I spoke to Agency For Surrogacy Solutions and Center For Surrogate Parenting, both of which are in the LA area. I used one of them but both were good (and expensive).
The surrogate, if she is a first time, gets only about 21K, then on subsequent surrogacies she gets a few thousand dollars more. There are also additional expenditures, such as if she is carrying multiples, or if she has to have a C-section, go on bedrest, and her psych and medical testing, etc. Also there are miscellaneous costs like babysitting, gas and time to get to and from appointments, etc. I often joked that I was paying for my surro's Kleenex, tissue by tissue! The agency got the same amount the surrogate got, which seems like a rip. Then there are legal fees and medical fees. For a surro who has her own health insurance, you have to be certain that her policy does not exclude surrogacy (most do but a few are still in the dark about it so don't specify, and none will state that they DO cover it). Usually you have to buy a catastrophic insurance policy and again, looking for one that does not name surrogacy as an exclusion. This was the hardest part of the whole thing for us. In the end, we were able to negotiate a cash deal with both the obstetrician and the hospital and not use the insurance at all (which is good because the f@ckers tried to invalidate her policy on some trumped up charge, which we could have gone to court over but who has the time, energy, or resources to do that?)
If your friend is willing, she should ask her OB office not to divulge that this is a surrogate pregnancy to the insurance company. There is really no need to do so anyway and it is not fraudulent unless the insurance company specifically excludes surrogacy in their written policy. But you don't want to "wake them up" and give them cause to find ways to deny payment.
Our surrogacy cycle cost about 110K but that included 30K for the donor end of things. So I would say it was really around 80K just for the surrogacy part (including the costs I've outlined above: surrogate, agency, legal fees, medical fees, and incidentals). It's pretty hefty.
You can certainly get those costs down if you don't use an agency and if your friend can use her own insurance. Then you are looking at FET costs from your RE, medical copays, and legal fees.
Minniet, am I to understand that you got 4 embryos total? If I may ask, how many eggs did you start with? I am wondering about your husband's sperm quality. I know you've probably answered this before, but did he have the DNA frag test (SCSA)? We had done several cycles with so-so embryo production and quality and it wasn't until we did TESE and obtained sperm directly from the testes (necessitating ICSI as part of that process) that we got a large number of high quality embryos. Please take care that you don't chase after the eggs and uterus when it's the sperm all along. That is what happened in our case so I always feel compelled to issue a warning about that. Also I think most REs do the same thing. Maybe it's the brotherhood or something, but many REs never want to look at the sperm very closely.