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. border control?
(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
- A spare copy of all documents
- Any other documents like TOEFL/IELTS score reports (Optional)
The security at the U.S. border might be more strict 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 airport late at night, will the free university shuttle still be waiting for me?
Yes, as long as you have submitted your arrival information to us and you are arriving on January 2, 3, or 4. The International Welcome Team will be at the Lincoln airport for all flight arrivals, even those that arrive late at night, on January 2, 3, and 4. If you are not arriving on one of those three days but would like help identifying airport transportation options, please email Teresa Lostroh at TLostroh2@unl.edu, and she will be happy to help you.
I am arriving to the Omaha airport. How can I get to campus?
Though we recommend that students arrive to the Lincoln airport, it is possible to fly into Omaha (OMA). Omaha, Nebraska, is located about 60 minutes by car from campus. The university does not provide a free shuttle from the Omaha airport, and the International Welcome Team is not available in Omaha.
The best way to reach campus from the Omaha airport is through OMALiNK, which is a safe, licensed shuttle service that specializes in airport transportation. OMALiNK will pick you up at the airport. You must reserve a shuttle before you depart from your home country to ensure there will be a shuttle available when you arrive. To reserve a shuttle, visit omalink.com.
Price: $70 per person, one-way from Omaha Airport to UNL's City or East campus. If your destination is off campus, the price may vary. Please visit OmaLink's website for more detailed pricing information.
What is International Orientation, and why do I have to go?
International Orientation is on January 5 and 6 and is required for all new international undergraduates. Orientation is intended to help new international students make connections with fellow students, learn about campus and university life, get essential information and items, and feel at home at Nebraska. Though orientation certainly has some serious sessions, we try to make it fun to get you excited about your experience at the university. The group leaders at orientation are members of the International Welcome Team, who are current university students.
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 university shuttle from the Lincoln airport as long as their destination is located within 2 miles (3.2 km) of City Campus. We encourage parents and guests to attend Parent and Guest Orientation on January 5 and 6 during student orientation. Parent and Guest Orientation is free, and there is no need to register in advance. Once the schedule is finalized, you will be able to find it at this link.
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. Find detailed instructions for course enrollment by clicking on the "Course Enrollment" link on the International page.
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, 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. 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.
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.” 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, 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.
International students should select a "break hall" when completing their contract (spring admits will be automatically assigned to a break hall). Break halls are open during breaks like Thanksgiving and winter break, so students do not have to move out during that time. The names of the break halls on City Campus are Selleck Quadrangle, University Suites, Knoll Residential Center, and East Side Suites, as well as the Courtyards and Village apartments. The Massengale Residential Center is a break hall on East Campus.
My University Housing contract doesn’t begin until January 5. Can I move in before that?
Yes, the earliest you can move into University Housing is December 17. Your Housing contract officially begins on January 5, so there is a $35/day early move-in charge for each day you are there before January 5. We recommend that you move into Housing early rather than getting a hotel during International Orientation because a hotel is more expensive than early Housing.
If you intend to move in before January 5, you will need to contact University Housing to request early move-in. Please send an email to Housing.Contracts@unl.edu and indicate in your message the date that you would like to move in. Please include your full name and NUID in the message.
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 completed or transferred 27 or more accepted semester hours of post-secondary education, are required to live in University 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 $400-$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.
For more details about living off campus, and to find a PDF listing of off-campus apartments, click on the "Off-campus Housing" link at the bottom of this page.
When do the university dining halls open? Where can I get food before they open?
The first meal served in the University Housing dining halls will be on the evening of January 7. Before that, students living in University Housing will need to eat off campus or purchase sandwiches at Husker Heroes, located on the main floor of the Willa Cather Dining Complex. Students can use their NCards to pay for food at Husker Heroes.
There are many restaurants located within walking distance of campus. The types of restaurants include Chinese, Thai, American, Mexican-American, and Mediterranean. For a full listing of all the restaurants in downtown Lincoln, visit this page.
On January 2, 3, and 4, the International Welcome Team will take students downtown for lunch and dinner each day, at the students’ expense. Most basic meals in the downtown area cost about $7-$12. Please see the Welcome Week calendar for more details.
What is the ISSO check-in?
The check-in session with the International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO) is an immigration document check-in during which the ISSO staff make copies of your documents and provide you with information that is important for maintaining your visa status in the United States. The ISSO check-in session is required, but it is not part of International Orientation. You can schedule your check-in session in one of three ways:
- Go to the ISSO office in person at Seaton Hall, Suite 201.
- Register online.
- Sign up during orientation.
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 Fall 2017 semester would appear in MyRed by August 25 at the latest and would be due by September 12. For the spring 2018 semester, your first bill will appear in MyRed by January 25 at the latest and will 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 in Canfield Administration Building 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. The requirements should be fulfilled at the University Health Center in Room 158, located at 1500 U Street on campus. Students must schedule an appointment to complete the requirement. You can schedule an appointment at this link.
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.
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 two main phone carriers: AT&T or Verizon. You might hear about a couple of other carriers, mainly T-Mobile or Sprint. T-Mobile service in Lincoln is not recommended. Some students use Sprint, but it requires a 2-year contract.
For more details on obtaining phone service in Lincoln, click the "Mobile phone" link at the bottom of this page.
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 new 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 busses that travel between City Campus, East Campus, and Innovation Campus. Due to wait times and multiple stops, we suggest students have at least 30-40 minutes to commute between the campuses, 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 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. 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.