I finally made the Stage 1 payment today via Paypal. No looking back! I didn't know there was a limit per transaction on Paypal but good thing it wasn't a daily limit. I made three mini-payments.
Two things to consider with using Paypal. First, the exchange rate isn't as good as the universal rate but I wanted to earn the points on my credit card. Secondly, because there is a 4% service fee for vendors, you'll have to add that to the final amount. If you do not care about earning points on your credit card or you would to maximize the value of your dollar (including not covering the fee), avoid Paypal and wire the money. SCI provides detailed instructions on how to do this.
The amount SCI receives from Paypal is the converted INR amount. This will be credited to your account. I assume the plus or minus will be taken care of during my first visit. I am just waiting to hear back regarding next steps.
Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!
Update (August 4): With the lower conversion rate by Paypal, I was a little short of the full fee. So be prepared to make another payment to cover the shortage unless you buffer the initial amount more than I did. Not a big deal if you pay too much as the credit would just apply to the next stage payment.