International Students and Remote Learning in Fall 2020
Please visit this Frequently Asked Questions page interpreting the most recent ICE guidance for International 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!
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, both for your computer and also as a VR app for your phone. Download the app to take a virtual tour and feel like you are really on campus!
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 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 [email protected]psu.edu. Visit DISSA's website for more information about how to request the I-20 or DS-2019.
Penn State has announced that students will return to on-campus instruction in the fall. However, we are aware that circumstances beyond their control may make it difficult or impossible for some of our international students to travel to Erie in August. Penn State is a leader in online education, and our faculty are prepared to teach in multiple modalities, so rest assured that you can still start your Penn State education from abroad and join us in person in a later semester if needed. For more information, please visit the Learning at Home website. This site will be updated as more information becomes available.
Once the first-year arrival dates for all students are finalized, you will find that information at the arrival website.
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.
We have arranged Penn State discounted rates with the following two 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.
Hilton Garden Inn +1-814-866-1390
This hotel offers a free shuttle from the airport. If you book a room at this hotel, ask them for details on how to request the shuttle once you arrive to the Erie airport. To receive the discounted rate of $99 per night for a room with two queen beds or a king bed, 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.
- 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 Erie International 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.
Here is a downloadable map of Penn State Behrend to help you prepare for your arrival.
R-ISO, Behrend's Campus-Specific International Student Orientation
We will be conducting this fall's R-ISO virtually and it will include the following components:
- Immigration Regulation Session & Mandatory Document Check-In
- Campus Resources & Departmental Overviews
- Health Services & Immunization Submission
- Social Activities & Opportunities to Get to Know Other Students
Fall 2020 Orientation Schedule
- Monday, August 17: We will hold sessions online in the morning Eastern Standard Time. Exact times and link to join to be announced soon. All new students are welcome to join, whether they will be coming to campus in person for the fall or will be attending the semester remotely.
- Wednesday, August 19: These sessions are specifically designed for those students who will be joining us on campus in the fall. We will discuss life on campus and tips for getting around town, grocery shopping, and other questions that pertain to you if you will be living on campus.
After R-ISO is over, you will join the other new students in Welcome Week events. You can find more information on the Welcome Week website.
- Saturday, August 22: Join the other new students in convocation and academic school welcomes, either in person or online.
- Monday, August 24: Fall 2020 courses begin.
Register for R-ISO
Register to attend the orientation program using the R-ISO Registration Form!
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 [email protected], call 1-814-898-6317, or connect on WeChat (WeChat ID: alecia_h).
- To contact Barbara, email [email protected], call 1-814-898-6059, or connect on WeChat (WeChat ID: barb_z).
- To contact Riki, email [email protected] or call 1-814-898-6909.
To see more information about Alecia, Barbara, 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. Please do NOT sign a contract with any off-campus housing agencies.
This 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 fill out this application as it is a competitive program.
For additional information about this Special Living Option, email [email protected] or visit the Global Boarders site for much more information about this program. The deadline for application is May 28, 2020.
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).
2020/21 Semester Tuition and Fees for First-Year (Freshman) Students*
- Tuition: $11,962
- Student Fee: $244
- Information Technology Fee: $252
- International Fee: $750
Total cost of tuition and fees: $13,208.00
*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
*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.
PNC Bank is a local bank which has offices close to campus and two ATMs 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 Purchase 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 insurance rate is $984 and the spring is $1,553. 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.
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.
*SPONSORED STUDENTS* If students have an approved waiver, they will not be billed. Students have until early September to submit a waiver. The date will be announced later in the summer. If students do not submit a waiver by the 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.
- 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 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, 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 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.
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 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.