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
- 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 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 7, 8 or 9. The International Welcome Team will be at the Lincoln airport for all flight arrivals, even those that arrive late at night, on January 7, 8 and 9. If you are not arriving on one of those three days but would like help identifying airport transportation options, please email Teresa Lostroh at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: $75 per person, one-way from Omaha Airport to UNL's City or East campus. If your destination is off campus, the price may vary. Rate may vary for group bookings. 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 10 and 11 and is a required event for all new international undergraduates. Attendance is compulsory on both days. Orientation is intended to help new international students complete mandatory immigration requirements, get essential information and items, make connections with fellow students, learn about campus and university life 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. Info sessions and discussion groups will be offered for parents and guests during student orientation on January 10 and 11. These sessions are free, and there is no need to register in advance. Parents and guests interested in attending the discussion and informational sessions should arrive to international orientation check-in with their student on January 10 and 11.
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 here.
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. 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." 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.
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, Schramm Hall, Smith Hall, University Suites, Knoll Residential Center (designated for University Honors Program students) and East Side Suites, as well as the Courtyards and Village apartments which are only available to upperclass or nontraditional students. The Massengale Residential Center is a break hall on East Campus.
My University Housing contract doesn't begin until January 10, but the recommended arrival dates for international students are listed as January 7-9. Can I move in before January 10?
Yes, the earliest a student could move into a break hall is December 23, however, moving in before January 2 is highly discouraged. Your Housing contract officially begins on January 10, so there is a $36/day early move-in charge for each day you are there before January 10. In order to attend required international orientation sessions, you must move in by January 9 at the latest. Keep in mind, if you are arriving prior to the official move-in day, you may be temporarily placed in “guest housing,” where you may stay in a hall other than the one that was assigned to you to give the University Housing staff time to prepare your assigned room.
Since you will move in before January 10, you will need to request early move-in with University Housing. Please request to move in early at least two weeks prior to your requested move-in date by emailing the University Housing Contracts staff at email@example.com with your name, NUID and requested move-in date and estimated arrival time.
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 2020 semester, you will be able to access dining hall meals beginning on the evening of Sunday, January 12. From January 8-11, students living in University Housing may have access to interim lunch meals at Selleck Dining Center using your student identification (NCard) for a minimal expense per meal (charged to your student bill). Otherwise, students will be responsible for their own meals prior to dinner on January 12. On Sunday, January 12, the dining centers at East Café, Harper and Selleck will be open for dinner and accessible with the meal plan, as well as Husker Heroes at Abel Hall and Cather Dining Center.
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.
On January 7, 8 and 9, the International Welcome Team will take students downtown for lunch and/or 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. Lunch will be provided for free for students who participate in both the required and the optional international orientation sessions on January 10 and 11.
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 mandatory and will occur on the second day of international orientation. During orientation on January 11, please bring the following with you:
- Immigration paperwork (I-20 or DS 2019)
- Passport with visa attached
- Local address where you reside in Lincoln
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 semester would appear in MyRed by August 25 at the latest and would be due by September 12. For the spring 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 within HuskerHub (located in Louise Pound Hall, Suite 130) 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 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning on January 6. 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 two main phone carriers: AT&T or Verizon. You might hear about a couple of other carriers, mainly T-Mobile or Sprint. Several mobile phone service providers will be at the Resource Fair during the first day of orientation, including the university’s HuskerTech store, which sells discounted cellular service through Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
For the Spring 2020 semester, free SIM cards through Campus SIMs (using the T-Mobile network) will be provided to new international students. If you do NOT receive one upon arrival at the Lincoln 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 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 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. 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.