Frequently Asked Questions
Pre-arrival and Arrival
Life in Lincoln
Pre-arrival and Arrival
Should I bring some cash? Will I be inspected by U.S. Customs?
You should bring some cash to be able to open up a bank account and purchase basic necessities in the first couple of days.
For security reasons, we do not recommend that you bring thousands of dollars in cash. Usually we suggest that students bring $200-300 USD for miscellaneous expenses. If you are planning to live off campus, you should bring enough money to cover your first month's rent and a security deposit.
If you bring more than $10,000 USD in cash, traveler's checks, or foreign currency, you will need to declare it on your U.S. Customs and Border Protection declaration form. You will not be charged taxes or fees on the money that you declare, but it is important that you declare to Customs if you bring $10,000 or more because if you do not declare it, the money can be seized. This requirement does not apply to money in a bank account or on a travel money card.
The Lincoln and Omaha airports do not have currency exchange stations, so be sure to exchange your local currency for U.S. dollars before arriving in Nebraska.
What do I need to have with me when I reach the U.S. Port of Entry?
(DO NOT put these documents in your checked luggage – these should stay with you at all times during your trip to the U.S.)
- Passport (valid for at least six months into the future) with visa attached
- I-20 or DS-2019
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Document with proof of funds to cover your education
- Nebraska admissions letter (printed)
- Address of where you will stay in the U.S.
- Flight itinerary
- Original high school or college transcripts and transfer credit documentation (if applicable)
- A spare copy of all documents packed separately from originals in case of separation
- Any other documents like TOEFL/IELTS score reports (Optional)
The security at the U.S. border might be stricter than what you've experienced in other countries. Border patrol agents may ask to search your phone or electronic devices; it is wise to ensure that your devices do not have any questionable or illegal content on them before you enter the U.S. If they ask you for your devices, it does not mean you are in trouble. Stay calm and follow the agent's instructions. Sometimes they request extra time to search the devices, and you could be taken to a separate room while they search your electronics or ask you additional questions. Again, in most cases, this does not mean you are in trouble. These types of searches happen to U.S. citizens and international visitors, so do your best to remain calm and answer the agent's questions!
I will arrive to the Lincoln or Omaha airport; will the free university shuttle still be waiting for me?
NSE and ISSO have partnered with OMALiNK, a licensed airport transport company, to provide free transport from the airport to campus and surrounding areas between January 11 and January 21. As long as you have submitted your arrival information to us and you are arriving between January 11 to January 21, you can reserve the free shuttle by submitting the arrival form. If you are not arriving during those days but would like help identifying airport transportation options, please email Emily Klesner at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will be happy to help you.
What is International Orientation, and why do I have to go?
International Orientation has two parts. Both parts are required.
- Online modules that contain information about academic success, health requirements, University Housing, immigration requirements, and more. Students will complete the modules from home at their convenience via internet before arriving to campus. Students who have paid the enrollment deposit will receive access instructions and more details via email.
- Live orientation on Zoom: During the live virtual orientation, we will provide additional information to supplement information in the Canvas orientation. We will discuss immunization requirements, immigration processes, academic success tips, and more.
My parents/family members are coming with me to Nebraska. What should they do when they arrive?
Parents and family members are welcome to ride in the free OMALiNK shuttle from the Lincoln or Omaha airport as long as you have submitted your arrival information to us and you are arriving between January 11 to January 21. Please note that though International Orientation is intended for students, Parents/Guests are welcome to attend the Zoom sessions.
How do I know what my enrollment type is?
Your university admission letter indicates which program you have been admitted into. There are four types of undergraduate international students: Intensive English, Credit English for Academic Purposes, full admit (direct entry), or Exchange.
Fully admitted freshmen and transfer students have met the English proficiency and academic requirements to begin their degree program at Nebraska. CEAP students are conditionally admitted students who have an advanced level of English proficiency but have not met proficiency requirements for full admission. IEP students have not met the English proficiency requirements for full admission or CEAP and instead take English courses exclusively. Exchange students are at Nebraska for a short-term study abroad program lasting one semester or one academic year.
Do I need to register for classes myself? I don't know what classes I should be enrolled in.
The course enrollment process depends on the type of student you are: Intensive English, Credit English for Academic Purposes, full admit, or Exchange. Exchange students will work directly with the UNL exchange coordinator for course enrollment. Enrollment instructions for fully admitted and CEAP students are included within the International Online Orientation. IEP students will be administratively enrolled in courses suitable for their English level based on English proficiency scores.
Why do I need to take the Math Placement Test? I am worried about my results, what should I do?
All fully admitted students and Credit English for Academic Purposes (CEAP) students must take the Math Placement Exam, regardless of previous math experience. IEP students do not take the Math Placement Exam. The exam results help ensure that students are placed into appropriate levels of courses. You can take the test up to three times (once per 24 hours), so if you are not satisfied with your initial results, you should take the exam again. You can find a practice exam on this page. You can access the live exam on this page.
Do I need to take the Modern Language Placement Exam in MyRed?
If you do not plan to study a foreign language other than English at Nebraska, you do not need to take the Modern Language Placement Exam as long as you are proficient in another language. If you are a native English speaker whose language of instruction in school was English and you do not speak another language proficiently, your college or major may require the exam. The exam is not an English exam; the exam covers one of three languages: German, Spanish, or French. The exam is only accessible to fully admitted students.
Do I need to take the English Language Test (ELT) when I get to campus?
The English Language Test is exclusively for Intensive English Program (IEP) students. If you are not an IEP student, you do not need to take the ELT. If you are an IEP student, find information about this requirement here and register here.
What is the Advising Inventory? Do I have to complete it?
If you are fully admitted, yes, you must complete the inventory in MyRed by clicking on the "Admissions" tab and then "Undergraduate." You must have submitted a New Student Enrollment reservation in order to access the inventory. CEAP, IEP, and Exchange students do not complete the inventory. The Advising Inventory is a questionnaire that includes questions about your personal characteristics, previous college credit, and interests in general education courses. Your academic advisor will use your inventory responses to select courses that are suitable for you. Fully admitted students cannot be enrolled in courses until they complete the inventory.
Why am I enrolled in courses that are not related to my major?
Most U.S. universities require students to take a variety of courses within their major and outside of their major. The U.S. education system values a well-rounded education that exposes students to information and perspectives in many subjects, including art, communication, culture, and more. These non-major courses are typically called "general education courses." At Nebraska, general education courses are called "ACE" courses, which stands for "Achievement-Centered Education."
Which ACE courses you take will depend on your interests and your major. Your academic advisor will be able to provide you with more information about your major's ACE requirements. You should never drop a course just because you don't think it's relevant to your major – even if isn't directly related to your major, it might be an ACE course that is required for your degree.
How do I transfer my college credit?
Credits from partner institutions, where the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has an agreement, are typically reviewed during the admissions process. If your school has a partnership agreement with Nebraska, or if you're transferring from a U.S. institution, check out the pre-determined course equivalencies.
If UNL does not have a partnership with your institution, transferring credits is done on a course-by-course basis. After you arrive to UNL, you will need to meet with your academic advisor to start the credit transfer process. You can find your advisor's name and contact information in MyRed by clicking on the "Academics" tab. If you do not see your advisor's name, you can contact your college's advising center. Please bring as much documentation as possible that demonstrates the content of the course or courses you would like to transfer. A course syllabus, which is a detailed course outline that includes the course content, assignments, and learning outcomes, is especially helpful if you have one.
Life in Lincoln
I plan to live on campus—which residence hall should I choose?
There are three types of university residence halls: traditional (shared bedroom and community bathroom with private showers and toilets), suite-style (four-person units with double- or single-occupancy bedrooms with an in-unit shower, toilet, living room, and snack-prep area), and apartments (apartments are not available to traditional freshmen). Pricing varies according to the type of residence hall.
On your Housing contract, you can indicate a preferred hall, but you are not guaranteed to be placed in your preferred hall. Room and hall assignments will be based on space availability.
My University Housing contract doesn't begin until January 21, but the recommended arrival dates for international students are listed as January 19–21. Can I move in before January 21?
Moving in before January 19 is highly discouraged. Your Housing contract officially begins on January 21. There is an approximately $30/day early move-in charge for each day you are there before January 21, and the early move-in fees will be charged to your consolidated student bill.
To move in before Jan. 21, you will need to request early move-in with University Housing. This can be done when you fill out your housing contract. There will be a place to input your arrival date. If you do not know your arrival date when you fill out your contract, you will need to request to move in early by emailing the University Housing Contracts staff at email@example.com with your name, NUID and requested move-in date and estimated arrival time. Please do this as soon as you know your arrival date to allow housing time to process your request.
I want to live off campus. How do I find housing?
Before you begin securing off-campus housing, keep in mind the university's housing policy: All incoming students who are under the age of 19 prior to the first day of fall semester classes and have not successfully transferred 27 or more accepted semester hours of post-secondary education are required to live in on-campus university-sponsored housing.
Students are responsible for finding their own housing if they choose to live off campus. Some students choose to live near campus and pay more for rent. Other students choose to live farther from campus to save money but then must commute to campus by bus, bike, car, or walking.
You should determine what your housing budget is before you begin your search. The rental cost for two-bedroom apartments is typically approximately $300-$900 per person per month, depending on the proximity to campus and the complex's amenities. Utility costs such as heat, electricity, water, cable, wi-fi, etc., are often additional expenses.
When do the university dining halls open? Where can I get food before they open?
If you have a meal plan for the Spring 2021 semester, you will be able to access dining hall meals no matter when you move into your residence hall. Your meal cost will be included in the early move-in fee of approximately $30/day. You will be able to access your meals by swiping your NCard at the dining halls. Depending on when you move in, different dining halls will be open. To confirm which dining halls are open, please watch the dining website for updated information.
There are many restaurants located within walking distance of campus if you are living off campus or would like to eat in downtown Lincoln. The types of restaurants include Chinese, Thai, American, Mexican-American, Indian and Mediterranean.
For a full listing of all the restaurants in downtown Lincoln, visit this page.
How do I pay tuition? Do I need to have an American bank account to pay it? Can my parents pay for me online?
You do not need to pay your tuition before coming to Nebraska. Your student bill will be available to view in MyRed by the 25th of each month (it often arrives earlier) and is due by the 12th of the following month. So, for example, your first bill at the beginning of the spring semester would appear in MyRed by January 25 at the latest and would be due by February 12.
Your student bill will include more than just tuition. It will include University Housing charges if you live on campus, textbooks if you purchase your books at the University Bookstore, student fees, health insurance, and whatever you charge to your NCard (your student ID card can be used to purchase items on campus).
There are a variety of ways to pay your bill. You can go into the Bursar's Office within HuskerHub (located in Canfield Administration Building, main floor) to pay with cash or check. If you are wanting to pay online, you can pay with credit card, an American bank account, or foreign currency. For more information on online payment options, go here. For step-by-step instructions on how to pay your bill online, go here.
What is the Health Center requirement? What are immunizations?
All new international students have to comply with two health requirements: 1. Take a tuberculosis test at the University Health Center 2. Provide proof of two rubeola measles/MMR immunizations or a positive rubeola lab result. To complete the health requirement, visit the Administration Office at the University Health Center (550 North 19th Street) any time Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning on January 4. It is not necessary to schedule an appointment in advance. Please note, you must have received your student identification card (NCard) before going to the Health Center. Find more information about completing this requirement here.
The tuberculosis test must be done at the University Health Center; previous tuberculosis tests from a different medical office are not valid.
Immunization is the process of receiving a vaccine (a "shot") that is intended to make you immune from a specified illness or disease. Nebraska students are required to have the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, rubella, and mumps. Regarding the MMR vaccine, you can upload your immunization records in MyRed by clicking on the "Health Requirement" link on the bottom right corner of the "Admissions" page. The records must be in English. If you do not have your immunization record or have not received the MMR vaccine before, that is not a problem. You can get shots or a rubeola test at the Health Center. The costs of the immunizations, rubeola test, and tuberculosis test are paid for by your university student insurance. If you do not have the university's student insurance, you should discuss costs with your insurance company.
How can I get a Social Security Number?
To obtain a social security number, you will have to get a job first. As a new international student, you are only allowed to work on campus. The department that hires you will then help you initiate the process of getting a social security number/card.
Do I need a U.S. bank account? What bank account should I get? Is there a bank close to campus?
We recommend that you open a bank account if you plan to be at the university for more than a semester, but it is not required. Having an account with a bank in the U.S. makes it easier to access your money and pay bills. Union Bank & Trust is the exclusive bank of the university. It is located in the north entrance of the Nebraska Union on City Campus with 10 ATMs (cash machines) on City and East campuses. Union Bank staff are multilingual, and if they do not speak your language, they have a free translation service available in more than 200 languages. Opening an account with Union Bank & Trust is free. To open an account with Union Bank, you will need to take your passport, at least $50 for an opening deposit for a checking account and your NCard (or just your NUID number written down). You must also know your local address in Lincoln.
You can open an account with a different bank in Lincoln, as there are several different banks downtown within walking distance of campus. However, other banks are not affiliated with the university and may not have experience serving international students.
How does the phone plan work here? Should I bring a phone from my home country?
You have a few options regarding mobile phones. You can:
- Bring a phone from your home country and activate it on a U.S. network using a SIM card.
- Purchase a new phone in the U.S. and get a 1-year or 2-year contract or a pay-as-you-go plan.
- Purchase a used phone in the U.S. and activate it on a U.S. network with a contract.
Most international students at Nebraska have phone coverage with one of a few main phone carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. The university’s HuskerTech store, which is located in the lower level of the Nebraska Union, sells discounted cellular service through Verizon and T-Mobile.
For the Spring 2021 semester, free SIM cards through Mint Mobile (using the T-Mobile network) will be provided to new international students. If you do NOT receive one upon arrival at the airport, please visit the Office of New Student Enrollment (312 N. 14th St) if you would like to pick one up.
Find more details on obtaining phone service in Lincoln here.
What is the difference between City Campus, East Campus and Innovation Campus? Is there transportation provided between them? How long is the commute?
City Campus, East Campus, and Innovation Campus are located in different parts of Lincoln. City Campus is the largest campus, and the majority of classes at Nebraska are on City Campus. The Nebraska Union is located on City Campus, as are most academic buildings. However, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), the Department of Statistics, and some departments within the College of Education and Human Sciences are located on East Campus. The famous UNL Dairy Store, East Union, and the Massengale Residential Center are also located on East Campus. You might have courses on City and East Campus during your time at Nebraska; it is also possible that you will have Food Science courses on Innovation Campus, which is the third and smallest campus at Nebraska. It is important to take a look at your course schedule in MyRed to see where your course buildings are located.
There are buses that travel between City Campus, East Campus, and Innovation Campus. Due to wait times and multiple stops, we suggest students have at least 40 minutes to commute between City and East campus and 20 minutes between City and Innovation campus, even though the campuses are only less than 10 minutes apart by car. You can find more info about the bus routes here.
Is Lincoln safe?
Lincoln is known for being a safe mid-sized city. People are generally very helpful and friendly, even to strangers. However, like anywhere in the world, it is wise to be careful. We don't recommend that students walk alone at night or leave their valuables unattended.
Our university has its own police department whose officers' main responsibility is to keep students safe. At International Orientation, you will learn from university police officers and the university's Director of Global Safety and Security about how to stay safe in Lincoln.
For additional safety information, go here.
How can I get a job?
New international undergraduates are only allowed to work on campus for 20 hours a week. If you want to look for a job when you arrive, check out this updated listing of on-campus jobs, or see current listings on the university’s jobs portal, Handshake. Keep in mind that many on-campus jobs might already be filled by older students when you arrive at the beginning of the semester. Some jobs are filled by word-of-mouth and are not posted on the on-campus jobs website. If you are interested in working for a specific department or office, you can contact that department or office directly to inquire about open positions.
Career Services is a department on campus that helps students prepare materials for the job search and prepare for interviews for free. You might want to visit Career Services, located in Room 225 on the second floor of the Nebraska Union, to have them help you develop or revise your résumé (also called a CV) and cover letter (a letter that you include with your application to highlight your interest and skills).
For reference: The minimum hourly wage in Nebraska is $9 per hour.