You are welcome here!
Penn State Behrend is currently home to 170 international students from 42 countries. Watch this short video from a few of our international students describing their experience here in their own words—and in their own languages.
Things You Need to Know
Use these links to jump to a specific topic.
- What is Campus Life Like?
- Virtually Visit Campus
- Getting Your I-20 and Visa
- Arrival Information
- Campus Map
- New Student Move-in & In-Person New Student Orientation (NSO)
- Document Check-In
- International Student Services
- Paying Your Bill
- Health Insurance
- English Language Practice
- Things to Do in Erie
- Information for Parents
What is Campus Life Like?
We have put together this webinar with our staff and some student leaders to share more about campus and what you can expect here. Please watch it and let us know what questions you have.
Virtually Visit Campus
We know that you want to be able to see your new home before you arrive! That's why we have put together a virtual tour of Penn State Behrend that you can view on your mobile phone or your computer. The virtual tour is available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
Getting Your I-20 and Visa
In order to be a full-time international student at a university in the United States, you are typically required to obtain an F-1 or J-1 student visa. For an F-1 visa, you'll have to first get an I-20 document and have a visa interview. For a J-1 visa, you will request a DS-2019.
You will work directly with the Penn State office called ISSA (International Student and Scholar Advising) in order to get your I-20 or DS-2019. The email address for the pre-arrival department is [email protected]. Visit ISSA's website for more information about how to request the I-20 or DS-2019.
You should plan to arrive to campus on Tuesday, August 15, and check in between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. If you have a housing contract, you will be able to move into your on-campus space at that time. Please let the International Student Services staff know if you will not be able to arrive to campus at that time by emailing [email protected]. Please confirm your attendance by filling out this form.
You can fly directly to the Erie International Airport (airport code ERI). It is about a 20-minute drive to campus. We do have the rideshare services Uber and Lyft operating in Erie, so you can utilize those options to get from the airport to your hotel or campus.
If you are willing to take a bus, you may also choose to fly into the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, or the Pittsburgh International Airport—all about a two-hour drive from Erie, PA.
- We do not recommend flying to any other U.S. cities, as transportation to campus will be more difficult and costly.
- Also, do not go to the airport in State College, Pennsylvania, where the University Park campus is located. State College is a 4-hour taxi ride and there is no direct bus route.
If you plan to arrive before the designated move-in day, you will need to stay in a hotel until that morning. We have arranged Penn State discounted rates with the following hotels that our students have utilized in the past. Other hotels also may offer discounts, but we recommend calling to ask before booking a room.
As a Penn State student in Erie, you may be eligible to receive a discounted rate for your hotel stay. Please visit our web page about Erie hotels to see a few options of hotels that offer the student discount.
Here is a downloadable map of Penn State Behrend to help you prepare for your arrival.
New Student Move-In & In-Person New Student Orientation (NSO)
The in-person NSO is the third step of the orientation process to Penn State. This is specifically designed to support your transition to campus and contains the following components:
- Shopping Trip to Purchase Essential Items
- Meet the International Student Services Staff
- Campus Resources & Departmental Overviews
- Speak with Penn State Behrend Faculty
- Campus Tours
Thursday, January 4, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.*: Check-in for New Resident Students
*If you are unable to arrive by 4:30 p.m., please get a hotel for the night and report to campus the following morning after 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, January 4, 1:00 p.m.: Essentials Shopping Shuttle provided by International Student Services (departing from the Reed Union Building front doors)
Friday, January 5, 8:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.*: In-Person New Student Orientation (NSO)
*If you are traveling with family, please note that there are two sessions for parents and family. They begin at 12:15 p.m. and end at 1:45 p.m. on January 5 and will be held in the Reed Union Building, Room 117.
Mandatory Immigration Check-In
Before becoming active in the SEVIS database, all F-1 and J-1 visa holders have to complete Mandatory Immigration Check-In. You are required to upload your immigration documents and successfully complete a government regulations online module and test. To complete the module and test, please visit the appropriate link for F-1 students or J-1 students. Once completed (score of 80% or higher), save your certificate as a PDF.
You can upload all documents prior to your arrival EXCEPT your I-94 record, which can only be retrieved after you enter the U.S. We will provide one-one-one help for you in completing your Immigration Check-in if you need that after arrival. However, we highly encourage you to complete the module and upload your documents prior to your arrival, as this will save you time later. This MUST be completed within 30 days of your arrival to the U.S.
International Student Services
Our International Student Services office is housed in Reed Union Building, Suite 1. Alecia Hollinger is the International Student Adviser. Riki Hay is the Global Engagement Coordinator. Our office phone number is 814-898-6031 and our email address is [email protected].
- To contact Alecia, email [email protected], call 1-814-898-6317, connect on WeChat (WeChat ID: alecia_h), message on Microsoft Teams, or fill out the Submit a Question form through the iStart website.
- To contact Riki, email [email protected] or call 1-814-898-6909 or message on Microsoft Teams.
To see more information about Alecia and Riki, please visit our Meet the Staff page.
Living on campus is beneficial for making friends, acclimating to campus, and learning about U.S. culture. First-year students are required to live on campus, and we expect that this will help them feel more closely connected to the Behrend community, plus it is much more convenient than driving in the snow during the winter! Here is a link with information about on-campus housing. You also can see the costs for on-campus housing here. First-year students should NOT sign a contract with any off-campus housing agencies.
Global Boarders is a program in which you choose to live in Trippe Hall with other students who live or have studied abroad, hope to study abroad, or want a culturally diverse living-learning environment. You will have an opportunity to attend programs throughout the year to learn about a certain area of the world and participate in meaningful discussions with your fellow students. If you want to select Global Boarders as your living arrangement, please indicate that on your housing contract or email [email protected].
If you are not a first-year student, there are many options for off-campus housing, but most require a car or other transportation to campus. You can see a list of available rentals here. The two apartment complexes within walking distance to campus are University Gate Apartments and Hudson Lofts. Please visit their websites for more information about availability and pricing.
Paying Your Bill
Amounts listed are for one semester, and display the out-of-state tuition rates based on full-time undergraduate study (12 credits or more).
2023/24 Semester Tuition and Fees Estimate for First-Year (Freshman) Students*
- Tuition: $13,056
- Student Fee: $258
- International Fee: $750
Total estimated cost of tuition and fees: $14,084.00
*Tuition for Juniors or Seniors will be higher depending on major, and all above fees apply
Use the tuition and fees calculator to estimate your bill amount.
Visit the Bursar's website to find out more about the tuition and fees rates, bill due dates, authorizing people to see and pay your bill, and payment options. For step-by-step instructions to pay your tuition on LionPath, go to this website and scroll down to "Paying your bill." For international wire transfers, you can see detailed instructions in this Guide to Paying Your Bill with Flywire.
Tuition Bill Due Dates
In general, tuition bills are due:
- Fall Semester: Due the 22 of August
- Spring Semester: Due the 22 of December
- Summer Session: Due the 22 of May
Housing and Dining Costs
To see the current on-campus room and board costs, visit Penn State Behrend's housing website.
PNC Bank is a local bank with offices close to campus and one ATM on campus, where you can withdraw money or deposit checks. You can even use your id+ card as your ATM card when you link it to your PNC account! There's no charge to link, and it's easy to do online. Here is a specific website for setting up a bank account as an international student.
Health care in the United States is very complex and extremely expensive, plus the United States does not have a national health care plan. Check out this short video for a brief overview of the U.S. health care system to assist you in advance of your arrival. Health insurance for international students is mandatory to ensure you have adequate health care coverage while you are studying in the United States. Insurance terminology can be confusing, so here is a website that explains common insurance terms to assist in your understanding of the system.
To Enroll in Mandatory Health Insurance Policy
The United Healthcare insurance policy is mandatory for international students who are located inside the U.S. This year's fall rate will be available later this summer. The cost for the health insurance will be added automatically to your semester bill* and can be paid together with your tuition, fees, and housing. You will enroll in the health insurance through your LionPATH account after enrolling in classes. To see more information about the health insurance requirement, please visit the University Health Services website.
*SPONSORED STUDENTS If students have an approved waiver, they will not be billed. If students do not submit a waiver by the established semester deadline, they will be automatically enrolled in Penn State SHIP and will be responsible for the premium charge on their student account. Do not purchase an alternate policy until you know that the policy meets ALL of the waiver standards completely. Contact the company that you are considering using to give them the waiver standards for them to confirm this. To see more information about the health insurance requirement as well as the waiver standards, please visit the University Health Services website.
Here is a link to the details about the United Healthcare policy, including the annual deductible, in-network and out-of-network coverage, and other important information.
To determine whether you should visit a primary care doctor (such as our on-campus health facility) or an Urgent Care facility or Emergency Room, you can visit this website to look at the conditions that each kind of facility can treat.
You may also choose to purchase dental insurance, although this is not mandatory. To see more information about this option, please visit the UHS website.
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) - To satisfy the requirement, you must have: 2 doses of the Measles (Rubeola) vaccine, 2 doses of the Mumps vaccine, and 1 dose of Rubella vaccine OR 2 doses of the MMR vaccine OR provide blood test results showing immunity. The first dose must have been given on or after your first birthday. Dose 2 must have been given at least 4 weeks after dose 1.
- Meningococcal - required if living in University Housing - The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4), also known as Menveo or Menactra, is effective against the most common meningococcal infections caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. One dose of meningococcal vaccine administered at age 16 or older is required of all incoming students living in University housing who are age 21 or younger. Incoming students living in University Housing who are age 22 or older may submit either proof of vaccination or a Meningococcal Vaccine Waiver. *NOTE, not all Meningococcal vaccines are acceptable. If you have not already received your Meningococcal vaccine, we recommend that you wait and get the vaccine on campus to be sure that it is the correct type. The vaccine commonly used in China is not the type that Penn State accepts.
To see a list of the other recommended (but not required) immunizations, visit the University Health Services website.
How to Provide Proof of Immunizations
For instructions on how to submit your immunization records, please visit the Submission Requirements page of the University Health Services website.
English Language Practice
The BEAM (Behrend ESL Alliance of Mentors) Program offers an opportunity for students who are learning English and would like extra practice to be paired up with a native or high-level English speaker in a mentor/mentee relationship to learn from each other. The mentor shares:
- Their own experiences learning the English language.
- Practices or techniques which helped them become more skilled in the English language.
- Pronunciation, idioms, slang, expressions, and other characteristics of the language.
- Cultural facts and anecdotes from their countries of origin.
For more information about the program and to apply, visit the BEAM website.
Things to Do in Erie
Penn State Behrend is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, a mid-sized city that offers the culture and entertainment options of a large metropolitan area with an abundance of natural resources and the friendly ease of a small town.
Pennsylvania's fifth-largest city, Erie, is located by Lake Erie's beautiful Presque Isle State Park, which boasts a 3,200-acre peninsula offering more than a dozen miles of sandy beaches, boating, and a thirteen-mile trail for walking, jogging, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing.
The downtown area offers a variety of cultural and historical attractions, including the Erie Art Museum, the Erie Playhouse, and the U.S. Brig Niagara, a victor in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Erie is also home to the Seawolves, a Class AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, and the Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. Many shopping and dining options are offered along the Peach Street corridor, just a 10-minute drive from the Penn State Behrend campus.
This very drivable city is conveniently located within two hours of Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and is less than a four-hour drive from both Toronto and Penn State's University Park campus. There is a public bus system in Erie, which is free for Penn State students to use with their ID card. For routes and timetables, go to the EMTA website or visit the RUB (Reed Union Building) desk located across from the gaming lounge.
Information for Parents
We know that the role of parents is very important in the education of their children, so we want to provide resources to keep you informed and involved.
- Here is some information for parents and families from Exploratory and Pre-Major Advising, which provides academic advising while students are choosing a major.
- Here is a Penn State parents' newsletter that you can subscribe to that will help you stay informed about what is happening at Penn State, and the important dates to watch for. Here is a link to subscribe to the Parents' Email Newsletter.
- The Personal Counseling Center has provided some frequently asked questions for parents about the adjustment to college life, and the associated challenges. Here are the parent resources provided by the Personal Counseling Center, and their Frequently Asked Questions page.
- For information on paying the tuition bill, and to see due dates, please visit the Penn State Bursar's website.
- Here is a downloadable map of Penn State Behrend to prepare for your visit.