International Students Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to arrival to UNI:

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 several $100 scholarships!   You may find more information at the ISSO website

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 or to meet the admissions requirements. 

Do I have to take the TOEFL?
An English proficiency score is necessary; please check or

How do I arrange housing?
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) 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. On-campus housing information may be found in the International Student Handbook: with the application found at
You are also free to choose an off-campus apartment. Listing of off-campus housing may be found at the  
NISG housing list
Waterloo-Cedar Falls 

If I will live in Hillside-Jennings Apartments, can I still arrive early for orientation?
Yes, if you have already been offered and accepted an apartment, you will need to schedule a check-in time as noted in the information you received from the Hillside-Jennings Apartments Office.  If your flight arrives after 5 pm, please make arrangements to stay at a local hotel.  For more information go to or e-mail

How much cash do I need to bring?
It is recommended that you bring between $100 and $300 cash.  Credit cards are widely accepted for many expenses.  It is not safe to keep a lot of cash (currency) with you.  Banks and credit unions provide a safe way to keep your money.  You may open up checking and/or saving accounts in local banks; to do so you need your photo ID.

Can I specify if I want an 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

Must I have a meal plan?
Yes, if you live on-campus. For more information about the meal plans with on-campus housing, visit the Department of Residence website or contact the Residence Administrator Jean Wielsey

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 planning on coming early.

Can I arrive in the United States before classes start?
Students with F-1 or J-1 visas 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 & Advising Coordinator Ross Schupbach

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 Graduate students will register directly with their academic department.

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 the UNI Registrar’s website

Is there child care available at UNI?
UNI does not provide child care to students' children; however, you may find some information at the International Student Handbook

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 waived.  All students are encouraged to take advantage of the benefits these fees provide.  Complete listing at

What are "other fees"?
Other fees are assessed as appropriate.  Complete listing at

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.

Must I have health insurance?
Yes, health insurance is required for all international students. Enrollment in the Health Care Plan provided by UNI for international students is mandatory. More information about UNI’s health care plan and International Students Student Health Insurance Plan brochure can be found at  If you need assistance with your health insurance, please contact the Administrative Specialist of the Student Health Clinic Connie Potter

How will I get from the airport to the UNI campus?
You can arrive at the Waterloo Municipal Airport (ALO), which is located approximately 10 minutes away from the UNI campus. The Eastern Iowa Airport(CID) is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which is about one hour away from UNI. 
Once you have your travel plans finalized, please complete the online Student Arrival Form, which can be found at
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.

During orientation at UNI:

Is there a fee for new international student orientation?
Yes, there is a onetime $120 International Student Orientation Supplement Fee.

Is there an orientation room & board charge?
Maybe.  ISSO makes every effort to cover most of the room and board charges for international students during mandatory International Student Orientation.  However, pending your arrival date, program type, and if you are an exchange student, you may be charged a small fee per day for on-campus housing and 3 (three) meals a day from the day of your arrival until your housing contract starts.  Please contact ISSO for more details regarding your situation.

How can I access the internet?
You should have access immediately upon arrival.  Instructions on how to connect are in your welcome packet.  For help with troubleshooting, please contact Information Technology Services or the International Student and Scholars Office at

Where can I deposit my money?
To deposit money you will need to open a checking account in the United States with a financial institution. You will have the opportunity to do that during orientation. 

Can my parents pay my bill from my home country?  How?
Yes, by wire transfer or by PeerTransfer

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

Can I travel outside of the U.S. during breaks?
Yes, but make sure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 form and check to see that your F-1 or J-1 visa will be valid for your re-entry into the U.S.  If you have any questions, please ask the the Immigration and Advising Coordinator, Ross Schupbach, at least 2 weeks before you plan to travel.

During the semester at UNI:

Can I drop a course after the semester has started?
Yes. However, dropping below full time (12 credits for undergraduate students, 9 credits for graduate students) could affect student visas. You MUST notify the Immigration and Advising Coordinator Ross Schupbach if dropping below full time.

Where can I find a map of bus routes?
You may find bus routes in your welcome packet, ISSO, or in the International Student Handbook at You may also find routes on the following  websites:
Jefferson Lines 266-7581 1009 W 23rd St Waterloo
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MET) 234-5714 1515 Black Hawk Rd Waterloo

What does "U-bill" mean?
An electronic University bill (U-bill) lists 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

Who can help me with my username, e-mail, MyUNIverse, CatID and other internet troubleshooting?
Information Technology Services has helpful information  at

Who can help me with my student account or U-bill?
Office of Business Operations has helpful information at

How can I get a job?

Information about on-campus employment is provided during orientation.  If you have questions about your immigration status and employment, please visit with the Immigration and Advising Coordinator Ross Schupbach; then - visit the Career Services website at

For employment on campus, visit the Student Employment website at and check the UNI job board at; for employment off campus – (you might qualify if you have lived in the U.S.  for an academic year)  check first with the Immigration and Advising Coordinator Ross Schupbach  You may find more information in the ISSO website at

Can I work on-campus?

F-1 international students (EXCLUDING Culture and Intensive English Program students) are only eligible to work on campus in non-work study positions; 20 hours per week maximum; up to 40 hours per week when classes are not in session; and not off-campus.  You may find more information on the ISSO website at

How can I get a Social Security Number?

You may apply for a Social Security Number after being hired for an on-campus job or if you have been awarded a graduate assistantship. Social Security Numbers are issued for employment purposes only.  You may find more information at the ISSO website

Where can I find information if I am having roommate problems?
You may find such information in the International Student Handbook or Department of Residence website

If I smoke, where can I smoke?
UNI is a non-smoking campus. This means that you can not smoke anywhere on campus. If you choose to smoke, you will need to go outside of the UNI campus to a city of Cedar Falls.

What is the legal smoking and drinking age in Iowa?
In Iowa, it is legal to smoke and purchase tobacco at age 18 and it is legal to drink and purchase alcohol at age 21.

Where can I get help with my classes and homework?
The Academic Learning Center offers tutoring and other academic help including:
getting feedback for class papers or work on improving your writing skills; working with tutors in Liberal Arts Core math and science courses; learning time management and subject-specific study skills; developing effective college reading and study plans; receiving assistance with course selection and educational planning; working with academic advisers who will help you monitor your progress; managing the graduate school application process and prepare for admission; and much more!  Visit for more information.

What if I need additional support with reading, writing, and learning?
Consider downloading and utilizing Read & Write Gold, award-winning literacy software that provides reading, writing, studying, and research support tools within familiar applications (Word, Google Docs, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader).  For more information or to download, go to

I have a physical, learning, or mental health related disability that may impact my academic performance.  Where can I get help?
Student Disability Services (SDS) provides specialized services to students with disabilities in order to help them achieve access to the educational opportunities provided by UNI.  Students registered with SDS seek services based on a variety of different disabilities including, but not limited to:  ADHD, learning disabilities, mobility disabilities, seizure disorders, chronic health conditions, deaf/hard of hearing, blind/low vision, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression.  Students with disabilities may be eligible for academic accommodations depending on the impact of their disability.  Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and may include extended time on exams, separate locations for testing, and note taking assistance. For more information visit

Where can I get my transcript?
You may request a copy from the Registrar’s office by contacting

How can I go to grad school at UNI?
You should apply for graduate admission and consult with faculty in the program you are interested in.

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

Can I stay in the US after classes end?
F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days after completing their academic programs.  J-1 students may remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after their program completion dates.  For questions regarding U.S. visas contact the Immigration & Visa Coordinator Ross Schupbach

*For more information, explore
the International Student Handbook 
ISSO website
UNI website
or  contact the International Student and Scholars Office at