A few tips on visa, insurance, tuition, healthcare, accommodation, and employment for prospective students.
By Chiranth Nataraj
Studying in the US is like a dream come true for most Indian students. For many, things can be daunting. Here are a few things that can help Indian students in the United States.
Having a thorough knowledge of documents is one of the most important things to know before visiting the US. You must carry essential documents like passports, visas, photocopies, I-20 form, mark sheets or degree certificates, SEVIS fee receipts, TOEFL, recommendation letter if any, and more. You can ask your school/university if they want you to carry or show any specific document before enrolling in the semester.
- Visa and insurance
There are three types of visas for international students in the US: F-1 for academic studies; J-1 for practical training not available in your home country; and M-1 for vocational studies. Depending on your visa, you must buy an international student health insurance plan that can keep you safe during your temporary stay in the US. If you are on J-visas, you must meet the US State Departmentâ€™s insurance requirements before entering the country.
The guidelines include $100,000 medical benefits per accident or illness, $25,000 for repatriation of remains, $50,000 for medical evacuation to their home country, and $500 maximum deductible allowed per illness or injury. Moreover, the plan must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of â€œA-â€ or above,â€¯or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of â€œA-Iâ€ or above,â€¯or a Standard and Poorâ€™s Claims Paying Ability rating of â€œA-â€ or above,â€¯or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above.
If you come to the US on F or M visas, you do not have to adhere to any US State Departmentâ€™s rules. You must meet your institution’s insurance requirement because most institutions decide the level of coverage a student must have to enroll in classes. You must find out if your school has a mandatory school-sponsored group program, or if you have the option to waive and select an insurance plan outside.
- University structure
The US higher education sector can be broken down into four categories: associate degrees (AA, AS, AAS), bachelorâ€™s degrees, masterâ€™s degrees, and Ph.D. or doctoral degrees. Each level has different credit requirements to pass.
There is a credit system that allows students to choose different subjects throughout their course. Students receive credits based on their performance at each semesterâ€™s end. A standard full-time course will come to about 30 credits each year. Most universities require 120-130 total credits for a bachelorâ€™s degree and 30-64 total credits for a masterâ€™s degree to graduate.
Each university requires potential students to apply directly, meaning that application requirements can vary. Check what are your institution’s requirements with regards to application and score.
- Student finances
US universities can be expensive. Tuition fees can range from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the degree you choose. A four-year bachelorâ€™s degree could cost $200,000 or more. However, fees can vary for several reasons, so checking with your university for course structure and fee details is best. Many students benefit from financial aid or scholarships. Financial aid can take the form of scholarships, grants, and work-study schemes.
International students cannot access domestic plans on healthcare.gov and government-sponsored insurance programs. So, healthcare is something that you must think about besides worrying about your education in the US. Many universities require that their students have healthcare coverage before the classes begin.
Some universities offer a group health insurance plan. Check if the cost is covered by the tuition fees or if you must pay extra to be covered. If your university does not offer healthcare, you can buy a plan from outside using the waiver option.
There are several options for student accommodation at US universities. The first is on-campus dormitories (dorms), close to campus facilities. Students who choose to live on campus can experience a sense of community, helping them to make friends quickly. Dorms are often shared with other students. If you prefer to live off-campus, you can rent. The cost will depend on the city where you are based but you can ask your university for assistance finding student-friendly accommodation.
International students with an F-1 visa can work up to 20 hours a week during their degree programs and up to 40 hours during term holidays. All work must take place on campus. If you wish to work outside campus, you must have official authorization. Also, you need to be eligible, which will be based on your visa. It is wise to get these pieces of information from your university.
The US is a wonderful place for international students. Apart from education, students get to explore the rich history, culture, ethnicity, nature, landscape, cuisine, and more. Now that you have understood which points to consider, start applying to the US universities and have a stress-free student life there!
Chiranth Nataraj is the founder of Visitor Guard. He has more than two decades worth of experience in developing insurance and technology solutions.)
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