Recent reports have come in this month that students are receiving incoming calls – mostly from the emergency 911 number – where either a man or woman will inform the student that they have committed a federal offense and will need to take immediate action. Some students reported that they were advised about an outstanding arrest warrant since they owe money to the US government.
The hoax tells students to pay the owed money to avoid prosecution by calling the phone number 202-470-6070. Students are informed that they need to act immediately in order to avoid further prosecution. In some reports, they threatened that the police would arrive at their front door if they did not pay immediately.
If you, or someone you know, gets a call similar to this hang up immediately and call the police. When in doubt, you can also call your local police station and school. If you are unsure, be sure to stay calm! It’s highly unlikely that any governmental agency will contact you by phone.
- Ask what the call is about.
- Request the full name of the agent and their ID number.
- Get their direct line to call them back at. Remember, any threats like this are highly unlikely!
- Call your international student advisor immediately with any information you have.
It’s important to know that you should never give out our:
- Your social security number
- Your banking information
- Your credit or debit card information
For more details, check out reports from other students here.
This week, new economic data was released by NAFSA that found 764,495 international students contributed $21.8 billion dollars to the US economy and supported approximately 300,000 jobs. In a time when the US economy is recovering from the Great Depression, it is no wonder why an importance has been placed on international education worldwide.
The study also found that for every 7 enrolled international students, 3 US jobs were created in a number of industries including in higher education, accommodations, dining, retail, health insurance, telecommunication, and transportation. This comes as good news as enrollment for international students has been increasing year after year for the last three year, with a 6.5% increase in overall international student enrollments over the 2010-2011 academic year.
The press release by NAFSA shows the economic implication of opening the doors to allow international students and scholars to study and pursue further opportunities after graduation in the United States. Currently, the US immigration system requires international students and scholars to return to their home country upon completion of their program.
While there are some opportunities available to employers to help switch their visa from an international student F1 visa (international student visa) to an H1B visa (work visa), this remains a complicated, difficult and expensive process. With limited opportunities upon graduation, many international students are looking elsewhere to pursue their higher education dreams.
In fact, according to the same report, the overall share of international students studying in the US decreased by 10%. The findings from the report says that immigration reform can further enhance the economic benefits for the United States as well as allow students looking to pursue employment post graduation.
When it comes to paying for tuition, international students must plan ahead and make sure that they do their research to keep their expenses low. Many banks – whether it’s in your home country or in your host country – will charge a wire transfer fee, which can add up especially if your money goes through intermediary banks as it makes its way to your school. Because of this, we’ve created tips for international students wiring tuition:
Find A University-Approved Wire Service
Many US colleges and universities work with a particular few wire services which are designed to help students send substantial amounts of money to the host country. These schools most often times do their research to ensure that they are legitimate and that the money is safe. Contact your bursar or accounting office to find out which companies your school works with. You will also need to find out the banking information from your school if they agree to accept direct wire transfers.
Confirm the Tuition Deadline
International students wiring tuition will need to first confirm the deadline in which the money must be fully received and paid. Depending on the school, you may be required to pay one semester’s (or in some cases, more) tuition and any on-campus room and board fees. While in theory a wire transfer should be immediate, it is not uncommon to find that there are frequent delays with the process. If the money arrives past the specified deadline, this may require you to pay additional late fees. Because of this, we recommend that you do the wire transfer weeks in advance of the deadline to ensure that you have adequate time in case of delays.
Wire Money Directly to the University or College
Many banks charge a fee to do a wire transfer, and this can be deducted from the overall money that is being wired. A $15 USD wire transfer fee by each bank can result in inadequate funds by the time the money is received by your school. Be sure to ask your country’s bank if there are any additional fees associated with the transaction. International students wiring tuition should see whether university will accept the money directly. Often times there may be no fee, or a minor fee, associated with the wire transfer. If you will be sending the money to a US bank, be sure to find out if there is a fee charged by that bank – and if there will be any intermediary banks involved who will be charging a fee as well.
These and other tips for international students wiring tuition can be found here at our IEFA.org blog. Share with us your experience of paying for tuition, what issues you faced, and how you overcame it.
Tax time in the United States is here, with the IRS’s filing deadline of April 15th quickly approaching. Taxes are confusing for anyone, but taxes for international students can add another layer of difficulty given the varying classifications that international students can fall under.
The first thing for international students to determine at tax time is whether they are filing as residents or non-residents. Taxes for international students will mostly fall under nonresident filing status, but to make sure what category you fall under you should go to the Substantial Presence Test on the IRS website. Note that residency status is different from your immigration status, and depends on a number of factors revolving around the dates, length, and nature of your stay in the U.S.
If you find that you need to file as a resident, you can proceed to complete your taxes as any U.S. resident would. Remember that this includes your total worldwide income, not just money earned in the U.S.
But as most taxes for international students are filed as nonresident status, you’ll likely find yourself moving on to the next step: determining whether you’ve had a U.S. source of income. What exactly counts as a U.S. source of income is also outlined in detail on the IRS website.
All nonresidents must file Form 8843. Those without a U.S. source of income get to stop there; nonresidents with a U.S. source of income must also fill out a 1040 NR or 1040 NR-EZ. To fill out either of these latter forms you will need either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you do not have one, you can apply for an ITIN at the time of your filing.
Tax time is a notoriously stressful period for anyone in the United States, and international students certainly aren’t spared. Get started navigating the process as soon as you can so you have time to sort out any snags, and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or school advisors for help! Check out our partner, International Student’s Tax Return Help, for more information.
* Tax, budget and calculator photo courtesy of Shutterstock
It is no secret that going to college in the US can be expensive. Not only is the cost of living higher here than many other countries, but college tuition has also increased more than inflation every year for over a decade. Unfortunately, the US tuition increase is a trend that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. So what does this mean for you as an international student?
Most US universities require that prospective international students prove they have enough money to pay for classes and living expenses before accepting them as students. With tuition increasing, the amount you will have to raise will be higher, making it harder for many students to attend school. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate the effects of US tuition increase.
Scholarships are a great way to ease the financial burden of school. To apply for scholarships you typically need to write an essay explaining why you are a good candidate and fill out some basic paperwork stating who you are and where you’re from. If you are in need of financial assistance, scholarships can really make the difference between having enough money and not having enough money to attend your school of choice.
Another way to help ease the increasing financial burden of studying in the US is to apply for student loans. Unlike scholarships, you will have to pay these back after you graduate, but luckily you’ll be much more likely to land a well paying job at that point.
Because the cost of US tuition increases each year, scholarships and loans are now more important than ever. Thanks to these two options, people who would otherwise be unable to attend college in the US now have a chance to go to any school in the US!
* School tuition rising picture provided by Shutterstock.
Applying to study in the US can be pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are all kinds of forms and applications which need to be filled out, and a specific order that they all need to be filled out in. Before you are able to get your student visa, for example, you have to first get what is called an I-20 form. And to get your I-20 form, you have to prove that you can finance your time studying in the US. This is because it is required by US law that you prove that you can afford to study in the US, the proof of funds to get your I-20 is how the US determines that you are financially secure enough.
Because of the high cost of living and tuition, many international students rely on at least one sponsor who will help out financially. You are allowed to have as many sponsors as you want, and each one that plans on being a sponsor will need to fill out an affidavit of annual cash support stating that they promise to send you a certain amount of money, as well as a proof of income. The proof of income can be a letter from your sponsor’s employer, income tax returns, an income estimate by a bank, or a bank statement showing that there is enough money to cover the promised amount. If you have sponsors who plan on providing you with a free room and board, they will also need to show a proof of income as well as copies of their lease, deed, rent receipts and/or any other documentation that the university can use to verify ownership of the property.
It is also important that your sponsors do not exaggerate how much money they are able to cover when providing the university with a proof of funds to get your I-20. While your sponsors may think they are helping you by exaggerating, they are actually putting you in danger of having your I-20 form rejected. The reason that you are required to show a proof of funds to get your I-20 is because it is far too risky to move to the US without a guaranteed source of income. If a sponsor backs out and you don’t have enough money to continue living in the US, you would have to move home and stop pursuing your education.
Once you have your I-20 form, you have completed one of the first steps to studying in the US. You will then be eligible to get your F-1 student visa, which will allow you to legally stay in the country and study in a US university full time!
*Visa application photo thanks to Shutterstock
One of the best things about studying in a foreign country is that everything around you is new and exciting, making every day seem like a mini-vacation. To make the most of their time abroad, many international students decide to travel during their time off from school. If you are one of those students, then you might be wondering how to budget so that you can travel for winter break.
Set Incremental Goals
One of the single best tips on how to budget so that you can travel for winter break is to set incremental savings goals. This way you can make sure you are on track to saving the amount you need by winter. These goals should be set up as weekly or monthly dollar amounts that, if met, will result in you having enough money when winter break comes.
See What Your Bank Can Do to Help
Most banks have savings programs to help you save money, so if you’re trying to decide how to budget so that you can travel for winter break, you should check online or ask in person at your bank to see what is offered. For example, some banks will transfer whatever change is left over from a debit card transaction and automatically put it into your savings. If you use your debit card a lot, the occasional 25 and 50 cents being put into to your savings account can really add up in the long run. Other banks have a way to automatically move a set amount from your savings to your checking every month. This method is a great way to make sure you are keeping up with your monthly goals!
Remember What You Are Saving For
Sometimes, after saving for a while, it can be tempting to dip into your money and buy something expensive for yourself. You might tell yourself that you’ll make up for it by saving more in the future or that you deserve to cheat a little. This is because people are good at tricking themselves into spending money, and you should definitely avoid this pitfall if you plan on traveling over the winter. Whenever your temptation to spend some of your savings rises, visualize how amazing your winter trip is going to be and let that image keep you in line and on budget.
There are many other methods on how to budget so that you can travel for winter break, and in the end some will work for you more than others. The best thing to do is to try out several savings methods and seeing what works for you the best!
* Picture of male hand putting a coin into piggy bank courtesy of Shutterstock
That’s right, if you are currently studying outside your home country – or if you want to study abroad, you have the chance to win $4,000! The 2012 Travel Video Content hosted by InternationalStudent.com has just opened allowing you to submit your video with the opportunity to add $4,000 to your travel budget.
As the 7th annual Travel Video Contest, this could be your year to win! To enter, submit a video of less than 5 minutes explaining why you want to study or travel abroad! If you are currently abroad, then talk about a trip you’d like to take and why.
Check out previous winners to get those ideas flowing, and submit your video before the deadline, October 31st. The winner of the Travel Video Contest will be announced on the InternationalStudent.com website the week of November 12-16, International Education Week.
In addition to the grand prize of $4,000, the winner will get their very own blog on International Student to document their trip and share their experience with viewers. This blog will start immediately after the winner is announced, and will continue through the trip until return to school. For more information, check out the Travel Video Contest for rules and regulations, to see previous videos, and learn how to submit your video.
Good luck to you all!
* Professional Video Camera picture thanks to Shutterstock
Studying in the United States can add up, but there are many tips to budget properly and keep costs low. Food can add up weekly, especially if you are not planning appropriately. Going to dinner can easily add up to $20 for one meal. By taking the time steps to save money on food, this can mean more opportunities – and more adventures for you!
Here are 10 tips to keep food costs low:
1. Eat at Home
With a restaurant on every corner, many students think convenience! Pizza in 10 minutes? Hamburger in 2 minutes? Or, splurge at a fancy restaurant? While this might be a treat once in a while, try to find easy and quick recipes you can make at home. Not only are these typically healthier options, but it will save you money in the long run!
2. Buy Local
Buying fresh fruits and vegetables at a grocery store can be expensive. Mangos can be $1 each – on sale! Go to your local farmers market though and you’ll pay much lower prices. Some people show up early – others show up late – to get even greater discounts on their produce.
3. Buy on Sale
Sales can be so much fun – great deals and good food is the way to go. If it’s food that doesn’t go bad, then you can buy more and save it for later. If it’s meat, then you can freeze it for later also. Don’t splurge on food you may not normally purchase, but buying your everyday food on sale allows you to save even more money!
4. Freeze Left Overs
Ever try to cook something and make more than you can stomach? Or, have you had left overs but couldn’t fit it into your weekly schedule? Don’t forget that freezing food can be a great way to conserve and make the most of your budget.
5. Plan Your Meals to Reduce Wasted Food
There are so many times that we’ll go to the grocery store and buy everything in sight. There are also many times where you may be swayed to indulge, but not actually incorporate it into your eating regiment – and therefore goes to waste. Don’t let this happen to you. Plan your meals, reduce wasted food, and watch your money go even farther.
6. Buy Store Brand
Many times “white label” food is just as good as the brand name. Try buying your grocery store brand – not only will you save money but you will in many cases end up with the same quality!
7. Clip Coupons
If you are one of those people who read the newspaper – or go searching for coupons online – then take the time to see if there are any coupons for your normal purchases. One dollar off or buy one get one free can certainly help lower your costs on regular shopping days.
8. Compare price on per unit cost – not total price!
If you’ve ever taken the time to notice, many packages will tell you the weight of the food you are buying. Just because the total price is lower, it may be that you are buying less. Don’t be fooled by marketers, compare prices based on the equivalent weight to make sure you get the best deal!
9. Buy in Bulk
Many times if you buy in bulk, you will end up with the best price. While you may end up buying more than you need, consider sharing with friends or roommates to make sure that you get the lowest price for the maximum quantity.
10. Grocery Store Membership
Many stores now have memberships which offer you discounts or money back. If you are not already a member, sign up and see the savings come back to you!
If you have the grades and are looking to keep costs low while studying in the US, consider seeking out universities that offer tuition waivers for international students. In most cases, being awarded a tuition waiver will mean that you will be allowed to pay the resident rate as opposed to the non-resident rate. Or, you could receive a discount on the non-resident rate. Not all universities offer this option, but you could have luck if you are willing to be creative in your search.
Tuition waivers offer high-achieving international students the chance to keep costs low while studying in the US. They should not be viewed as a source of need-based financial aid; you will have to prove your ability to cover your costs otherwise. Factors for determining allocation of funds include grade point average, the number of applicants meeting the requirements, and sometimes, the number of students that normally attend the university that are currently studying abroad. To be eligible, you might also need to meet the TOEFL requirements for the university you are applying to.
When you are conducting your search for schools that offer tuition waivers for international students, keep in mind that you might have better luck depending on where you are from and where you are looking to study. For example, New Mexico State offers priority to students from Mexico while other universities might give priority to students from China, Scandinavia, or Egypt.
The important thing to remember is this: studying in the US does not have to be as expensive as you might think. Keep an open mind and remember that each place you travel to has value as it takes you out of your comfort zone and into a different culture. When you research your college or university, check to see if they offer tuition waivers for international students and then see where your studies will take you.