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Exchange Student Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to arrival to UNI:

When will I get my admissions letter?
  • You can expect to receive your admission letter within 10-15 business days of completion of your file. You can check the status by monitoring your checklist in MyUNIverse. To log onto MyUNIverse you will need your username and University ID Number. User log-in directions and password requirements can be found at my.uni.edu. Once your admission file is processed, the international admissions office will make a decision within 7-10 business days and notify you.

What type of visa I should apply for?
  • You will need to apply for a J-1 Visa. For any questions or concerns in regards to visas and J-1 Visa applications please contact Ross Schupbach at ross.schupbach@uni.edu

When will I get my DS-2019?
  • You can expect to receive your DS-2019 within 10-15 business days of completion of your file. It is mailed with your admission letter in your admission packet.

Is orientation mandatory?
  • Yes, new international student orientation is mandatory.  To help you have a good start to your experience here, you are required to attend all of the sessions of this mandatory new international student orientation taking place the week prior to the start of your first semester on campus.  In addition to getting some great information, students who sign-in during each session will be entered to win one of 18 $100 scholarships!   You may find more information at the ISSO websitehttp://www.uni.edu/internationalservices/orientation

Do I have to enroll in the Cultural and Intensive English Program (CIEP) first?
  • No, you do not have to participate in the CIEP program if you provide proof of English proficiency listed at http://www.uni.edu/intladm/ to meet the admissions' requirements.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?
  • An English proficiency score may be necessary; please check http://www.uni.edu/intladm/graduate/admissions-requirements

How will I get from airport to campus?
  • You can arrive at the Waterloo Municipal Airport (ALO), which is located approximately 10 minutes away from the UNI campus. The pick-up charge is $35.
  • The Eastern Iowa Airport(CID) is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which is about one hour away from UNI. The pick up charge is $120.
  • Once you have your travel plans finalized, please complete the online Student Arrival Form, which can be found at www.uni.edu/internationalservices/arrival-form
  • Pick-ups are not arranged from other airports. Aside from airport transportation, someone from UNI will also assist you with the on-campus housing check-in process.

Can I live off campus?
  • If the exchange agreement between UNI and your university includes room but not board or room and board then you must live on-campus. If your exchange agreement only covers tuition and fees then you may live off-campus.
  • Should you choose to live off campus, the International Students and Scholars Office cannot find you a place to stay, but we can provide some information that might help you make a good decision based upon your financial and personal preferences.  If you have not already done so, we recommend that you carefully review all of the information available at http://www.uni.edu/dor/housing/why-live-campus. If you meet eligibility requirements, UNI apartment or suite housing could be a way to save some money, especially if you can find a roommate to share the cost of an apartment.  Apartment and suite information is available here: http://www.uni.edu/dor/housing/apartmentssuites.
  • You are also free to choose an off-campus apartment, but there is more effort involved and there are many variables to consider therefore, we do not recommend this option.  It is not possible to inspect a potential apartment while you are abroad. If you still wish to pursue this option, The Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) has some off-campus housing listings here: http://www.uni.edu/studentorgs/nisg/housing

Can I arrive at UNI before classes start?
  • Yes, because the new international student orientation starts before classes begin, you should arrive 1-2 days before the orientation.  On-campus housing allows you to arrive a week before classes start.  Check with your housing personnel to see if your housing contract begins at your arrival if you are planning on coming early.

Can I arrive in the United States before classes start?
  • Exchange students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date indicated on their I-20 or DS-2019 forms, respectively.  For related questions regarding U.S. visas contact the Immigration & Visa Coordinator Ross Schupbach ross.schupbach@uni.edu

Can I register for classes before I arrive?
  • No, registration for classes will take place at the mandatory new international student orientation. Before orientation, we advise that you look at the schedule of classes and pick some classes you would like to take. The schedule of classes can be found at http://www.uni.edu/registrar/schedule-of-classes. Graduate students will register directly with their academic department.

Can I stay on-campus after classes end?
  • You will have to be moved out of your dorm room the day after the finals end. If you wish to stay after that you will need to arrange other housing options for that extended period of time.

Can I stay in the U.S. after classes end?
  • It depends on how long your visa will allow you to stay in the U.S. For questions regard US visas contact the Immigration & Visa Coordinator Ross Schupbach ross.schupbach@uni.edu

Can I register for classes before I arrive?
  • No, registration for classes will take place at the mandatory new international student orientation. Before orientation, we advise that you look at the schedule of classes and pick some classes you would like to take. The schedule of classes can be found at http://www.uni.edu/registrar/schedule-of-classes

How can I get course descriptions for the classes I am interested in?
  • You can find the descriptions of courses offered at UNI by viewing the Academic Catalog. The catalog can be found on UNI registrar’s website at http://catalog.uni.edu/

Can I work on or off campus?  If so, how would I go about it?
  • Exchange students can work on campus for up to 20 hours a week. Contact the Immigration & Visa Coordinator Ross Schupbach, ross.schupbach@uni.edu in regards to working off campus as it depends upon your visa.

Can I have my own (non-UNI) health insurance?
  • No, Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) insurance is mandatory. For more information on SHIP insurance visit http://www.uni.edu/internationalservices/insurance or contact Connie Potter at connie.potter@uni.edu

Must I have a meal plan?
  • Yes, you have to have a meal plan if room and board is in the exchange agreement. The minimum amount of meals per week is 20. If you do not eat that amount there is no cash refund.  However, if the exchange agreement between UNI and your home institution does not include board, the meal plan is in your discretion. For more information about the meal plans with on-campus housing visit the Department of Residence website or contact the Residence Administrator, Jean Wielsey Jean.Wiesley@uni.edu
  • https://www.uni.edu/dor/contracting/complete-housing-and-dining-contracthttp://www.uni.edu/dor/dining/meal-plans-0

Can I specify if I want American or international roommate?
  • Yes, you can enter a request for a specific roommate or an American or international roommate.  If there is a particular student you want to room with, you will enter their name in Panther Picks section, Search for Roommate by Details.  You must know the student's complete first and last name to search for them; birth date is optional.  If you want to enter a request for either an American or international roommate you do this in the Personal Requests and Accommodations section. There is a text box that you can enter this request.  If no specific requests are entered, an effort is made to assign international students with an American roommate.

How can I choose a dorm that's right for me?
  • You can view dorms and campus housing online by visiting the department of residence’s website: http://www.uni.edu/dor/housing/why-live-campus.

Does agreement with my home institution cover room and board in addition to tuition and fees?
  • The majority of exchange agreements do not cover room and board; most just cover tuition and fees. Contact your home institution or Stephanie Miller at stephanie.miller@uni.edu for more information.

What are “mandatory fees"?
  • Mandatory fees provide access to activities and services, and are assessed to all students.  They are not user fees and may not be waved.  All students are encouraged to take advantage of the benefits these fees provide.  Complete listing at http://www.uni.edu/tuition/explanation-mandatory-fees.

What are "other fees"?
  • Other fees are assessed as appropriate.  Complete listing at  http://www.uni.edu/tuition/2012-2013-tuition-mandatory-fees-non-supplemental.

What if I have questions about fees?
  • For any questions regarding billing, please contact Study Abroad Center Program Coordinator Lisa McClain lisa.mcclain@uni.edu

Explain to me what “tuition” means?
  • At UNI, your tuition pays for a student's instruction by knowledgeable, experienced faculty members who value our tradition of great teaching. Moreover, we are committed to providing the finest education attainable at the lowest cost possible. Our ability to combine academic excellence with sound resource management is why so many distinguished, independent reporting organizations annually confirm UNI's standing as one of the best in the nation for excellence and value.  Tuition and fees (aside from miscellaneous fees) are covered by UNI per the exchange agreement.

During orientation at UNI:

Explain to me, what "U-bill" means?
  • An electronic University bill (U-bill), with charges you owe to the university, is generated on the 1st of every month and due on the 20th (If the due date falls on a weekend, the due date will be the first business day following).  An email notification is sent to each student’s UNI email address when the u-bill is available.  Paper U-bills are NOT sent. For more information on U-bills visit the Office of Business Operations’ website http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/obo/

Here is my bill and it is due on August 24 and it has tuition and fees charges, even though my institution has agreement with your institution and I am not to pay it.  What do I do?
  • For any questions regarding billing, please contact Study Abroad Center Program Coordinator Lisa McClainlisa.mcclain@uni.edu

My bill is due soon and it has room and board charges, even though my institution has agreement with your institution and I am not to pay it.  What do I do?
  • For any questions regarding billing, please contact Study Abroad Center Program Coordinator Lisa McClain lisa.mcclain@uni.edu

What if my scholarship is not credited by the due date?
  • For any questions regarding billing, please contact Study Abroad Center Program Coordinator Lisa McClain lisa.mcclain@uni.edu

What is the difference between mandatory fees and other fees?
  • For any questions regarding billing, please contact Study Abroad Center Program Coordinator Lisa McClain lisa.mcclain@uni.edu

What is the difference between the health facility fee and health insurance fee?
  • The health fee assists the University in providing a safe and healthy campus for the entire student population. The fee supports a health system able to respond to individual and public health needs. It primarily supports the university medical and pharmacy staff, campus health promotion, mental health counseling, and sexual abuse and substance abuse services. Fee of service programs are offered in gynecology and women's services, physical exams, immunizations, allergy injections, TB testing, prescriptions, laboratory, and consultation for foreign travel. The health facility fee finances a building project to repair, renovate, and add space to the current Student Health Center. These enhancements will provide better access to services, improve patient privacy and confidentiality, and provide space for coordinated health, counseling, and wellness services.

During the semester at UNI:

What if I drop a class?
  • First, check with your home institution advisor to learn if being enrolled less than full-time (12-15 credits) is fine, then consult with Ross Schupbach Ross.Schupbach@uni.edu before you drop any courses that would take you from full-time to part-time status.  Being a part-time student without advance authorization could result in the loss of your good immigration status and you could be reqiured to leave the U.S.

When and how do I get my transcript?
  • An official transcript will be mailed to your home institution about a month after finals week. You may view your unofficial transcript online. If you want an additional copy of your transcript contact registrar http://www.uni.edu/registrar/ , registrar@uni.edu

How can I transfer to UNI?
  • If you are interested in transferring to UNI, please contact Bryant Dowd in the Office of Admissions at bryant.dowd@uni.edu.

How can I stay at UNI another semester?
  • If your intention is to stay another semester as an exchange semester, you will need to contact the Office of International Programs for more information.

How can I go to grad school at UNI?
  • If you are interested in graduate school at UNI, please contact Linda Jernigan in the Office of Admissions at linda.jernigan@uni.edu

Who can sign my learning agreement (correction to the original learning agreement)?
  • Stephanie Miller in the UNI Study Abroad Center 28 Gilchrist Hall can sign the learning agreement.

Can I travel within the U.S. during the breaks?
  • Yes, we encourage you to explore the U.S. during the breaks.

Can I travel outside of the U.S. during the breaks?
  • Yes, but make sure you have a valid travel signature on your DS-2019 form and check to see that your J-1 visa will be valid for your re-entry into the U.S.  If you have any questions, please ask the Immigration and Visa Coordinator Ross Schupbach ross.schupbach@uni.edu at least 2 weeks before you plan to travel.

After departure from UNI:

Can I get an unofficial electronic copy of my transcript?
  • Yes, you can view your transcript online on MyUNIverse (it is referred to as a degree audit)

My school never received my transcript, how can they get one?
  • Transcripts are typically mailed to your home institution about a month after the final exams. If you have not received it by that time please follow up with Stephanie Miller at stephanie.miller@uni.edu

My school received my transcript, but I need one too, how can I get one?
  • You can request an additional transcript for yourself with the Office of the Registrar. Information on requesting transcripts can be found on their website: http://www.uni.edu/registrar/students/current-students/transcript-requests
I received an email from the IRS about tax withholding, what does this mean?
  • Exchange students' tuition and mandatory fees are not subject to US tax withholding. Room and board support received by some incoming exchange students per terms of their specific exchange agreements may be subject to US tax withholding. Follow this link to ISSO's tax information.