New International Students

New International Students

New Students

Things you need to know:

You Are Welcome Here!

Penn State University is currently home to over 11,500 international students, scholars, faculty, staff, and thousands of alumni from over 140 countries around the world. Watch a short video about how much Penn State values having international students and scholars from all over the world. You are welcome here.


Getting Your I-20 and VisaI20 Document

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 DISSA (Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising) in order to get your I-20 or DS-2019. DISSA is located at University Park, and the email address for their pre-arrival department is Visit DISSA's website for more information about how to request the I-20 or DS-2019.


Arrival Information

Students should make arrangements to arrive in Erie, Pennsylvania, on or before January 2, 2019. Then, you will stay at a hotel until the morning of January 3, 2019, when we will provide transportation from your hotel to campus (see below for details). You may arrive earlier, but you will need to stay in a hotel until the morning of January 3, which is the earliest date students may move into on-campus housing.

Flight Information

The Erie International Airport, (airport code ERI) is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is only about a 30-minute drive to campus. There are larger airports in nearby Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that you might consider; however, we do not provide transportation from those airports. Therefore, we recommend that, for your convenience, you fly directly into the Erie airport. 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.

Hotel Information

You may stay at any hotel in the local area, but we will only provide transportation from the following hotels on January 3:

  • Comfort Inn Presque Isle +1(814) 835-4200 
    This hotel offers a free shuttle from the airport. To receive a discounted rate, please tell the hotel staff that you are a Penn State international student when booking by phone or visit the Comfort Inn's website to reserve online.
  • Cobblestone Inn and Suites +1(814) 899-9099
    This hotel is across the street from Penn State Behrend and may be a better option if you are traveling with family. You will need to take an Uber or taxi to the hotel upon arrival from the Erie Airport. You should receive a Penn State rate of $89.99 plus tax per night. To receive the discounted rate, please tell the hotel staff that you are a Penn State international student when booking by phone. This discount is not available online; you must call to receive the student rate.


Campus Map

Here is a downloadable map of Penn State Behrend to help you prepare for your arrival.


International Student OrientationLion Statue

International Student Orientation is mandatory for newly-admitted students before each fall and spring semester. It includes these sessions plus much more:

Spring 2019 International Student Orientation Schedule

  • Thursday, January 3 and Friday, January 4 — Mandatory International Student Orientation and New Student Orientation
  • Monday, January 7 — First day of classes for the Spring 2019 semester


Document Check-In

Before becoming active in the SEVIS database, all F-1 and J-1 visa holders have to complete Mandatory Document 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 document check-in sessions to assist with this process during International Student Orientation. However, we highly encourage you to complete the module and upload your documents prior to your arrival as this will save you time during those sessions. 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 Erie Hall, Room 11, on the lower level of the building. Alecia Hollinger and Barbara Zarnick are the current International Student Advisers, and Riki Hay is the Global Education Coordinator.

  • To contact Alecia, email, call 1-814-898-6317, or connect on WeChat (WeChat ID: alecia_h).
  • To contact Barbara, email, call 1-814-898-6059, or connect on WeChat (WeChat ID: barb_z).
  • To contact Riki, email or call 1-814-898-6909.

To see more information about Alecia, Barbara, and Riki, please visit our Meet the Staff page.



On-Campus Housing

Living on campus can be beneficial for making friends, acclimating to campus, and learning about U.S. culture. We encourage first-year students to live on campus as 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. Keep in mind that once you accept your housing contract, you are legally obligated to pay that contract, so be sure that you want to live on campus before accepting the contract. You also can see the costs for on-campus housing here.

Off-Campus Housing 

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).

2018-19 Semester Tuition and Fees for First-Year (Freshman) Students* 

  • Tuition: $11,733
  • Student Fee: $240
  • Information Technology Fee: $252
  • International Fee: $750

Total cost of tuition and fees: $12,975.00

*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". 

Tuition Bill Due Dates

In general, tuition bills are due*:

  • Fall Semester: Due the 27 of August
  • Spring Semester: Due the 22 of December
  • Summer Session: Due the 22 of May

*These dates will be different for first-semester students who have to attend New Student Orientation.

Housing and Dining Costs

To see the current on-campus room and board costs, visit Penn State Behrend's Housing website


Health Insurance

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 Purchase Mandatory Health Insurance Policy

The First Student annual plan for 2018/19 will cost $2,619.00. You must purchase the mandatory health insurance policy by September 4 to avoid the late fee. You will enroll through your LionPATH account. There is a "Health Insurance" tab on the right side of the page which will take you to the First Student website to purchase. International credit cards are not accepted through the website, so please make sure that the money is in a U.S. bank. To see more information about the health insurance requirement, please visit the University Health Services website.

Late Fee

There is a $50.00 late fee for students who fail to fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement by the established semester deadline. There is a $100.00 late fee for students who don't fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement the second and any subsequent times. Late fees must be in the form of a money order. These can be purchased at many gas stations, shopping centers, banks, or post offices.



Required Immunizations

  • 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. Make sure that you have the correct type of Meningococcal vaccine before receiving the immunization.

To see 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.


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 fourth 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; the Otters of the Ontario Hockey League; and the Bayhawks, an NBA Development League for the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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.

For information about things to do in Erie, check out the Visit Erie website or the Erie Arts and Culture website.


Info 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 from the Academic and Career Planning Center, which not only provides academic advising while students are choosing a major, but also prepares students for their career after graduation. For more information, visit the Academic and Career Planning Center's parent page
  • 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.