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Decoding your stay in the USA

As any student can vouch for, studying abroad ensures that they get to absorb a life changing cultural experience as well as the chance to enjoy one of the best standards of living internationally. This post aims to elaborate on various study options in the USA.

Once students have applied successfully for courses and completed payment formalities post receiving their i20 visas, they will need to arrange for their accommodation in the US. Contrary to popular belief, the overall costs for tuition and living varies considerably between different universities/colleges, courses and cities that a student chooses. In addition to paying tuition expenses, students will also require financial support for travel, personal computing devices, course literature, and personal expenses.

These expenses may be daunting, but there are a number of support systems in place for students to get financial assistance. It is also possible to get assistance through loans with your financial service provider or through securing grants, and scholarships from the university. It is always preferable to start smart with an assessment of the options available for financial assistance. Most students opt for one of the three accommodation options in the United States:

1. On-campus accommodation/ university hall residence: This is a feature that turns out a bit more expensive than other options since students choose to gain accommodation near the school’s classroom, libraries and other facilities. Dormitories allow students to live on the school’s campus and students get to know a lot of students very fast. Quite a few U.S. colleges and universities offer flexible meal-plan programs, and students can choose to pay in advance for breakfast, lunch and dinner by depositing a certain amount of money at the beginning of the semester to buy food from designated places.

Did you know that once students are enrolled for admissions in US academies, the Admissions Department or International Student Office will most likely send them a “pre-departure orientation” packet which also includes options for accommodation in the US.

2. Off-campus accommodation/private housing: In this scenario, students can opt for a private/shared apartment outside of campus, on rent which is usually at a lower price than living on-campus. Before renting an apartment, it is recommended to spend some time in the neighborhood to analyse the safety and convenience of the location. Usually students can save on costs by preparing their own food and sharing.
Did you know that many local landlords will not take responsibility for personal possessions if they get stolen or destroyed so it is recommended that students should buy purchasing appropriate insurance.

3. Host family accommodation/ Home stays: This alternative is only offered by a few universities. It is more expensive compared to living off-campus, but offers students the support of a family, care, comfort and helps them get integrated with American culture quickly. If these are short courses then do consider using alternatives like AirBNB.

Did you know that American rules mandate that most universities will require that parent or legal guardian sign the housing contract as well as the health form allowing medical treatment for students under the age of 18.

A new directive passed by the Obama administration has mandated that students with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) degrees can stay on in the US for a total of six years under the Optional Training Program (OPT) – three years after finishing an undergraduate program, and then if need be, another three years after a graduate program. This would give them as much work time in the US as foreign guest workers get under the H1-B program. It’s indeed time to start smart with planning your stay in the US