Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has a pretty big emphasis on car culture. The country has always been car-obsessed, and recently a study showed that the U.S. has a record four cars for every five of its citizens.
Unless you’re in a city like New York or Washington D.C., the infrastructure for public transportation is lacking — if it even exists at all. However, attending college in the U.S. without a car is still doable without public transport. Here are some ways to manage it.
Ask a Friend
You can always ride shotgun with one of your friends — or if none of your friends have cars, make a new friend. There are colleges where over 90 percent of students have cars on campus. There’s sure to be someone else you can find who wants to go to the same place you do or has tickets for the same event. If you still have trouble finding someone, you can always offer a few bucks for gas money or to do the person a favor in return for a ride.
This definitely shouldn’t be abused, though. You don’t want to be known as the person who’s always asking people for rides. Americans do love their cars, and while they love to have an excuse to drive around, it’s bound to get old after awhile.
These days, ridesharing apps are just as important as our social media apps and profiles. With the recent rise of the ridesharing app, there are tons to choose from to help get you around. If you need to run errands and don’t have a friend to help out, these apps give you an affordable and accessible option.
These apps also give you the freedom to have more of a life off-campus. Though it’s guaranteed that things will almost always be happening on-campus, this is helpful if you want to go see a concert downtown or attend other events.
Ridesharing apps are becoming a more popular way for college students to earn extra cash, too, so there’s bound to be multiple cars to choose from in your area.
Walking or Biking
In a lot of college towns, there are amenities a short distance away because they want the college students as customers. If what you need can be found at a grocery store or Wal-Mart, then chances are it’s within walking or biking distance.
Walking and biking aren’t a permanent solution, though, as those can depend on the weather. But when it’s nice enough, they’re a great solution. They not only help with your health, but that of the environment as well.
While most places in the U.S. don’t have the infrastructure they should, there’s still usually at least something there to help you out. If you look on your school’s website, there will often be a schedule for campus-run buses or shuttles. Schools usually have these to travel from farther away dorms to campus, or from campus into town for students to stock up on supplies.
If you want to go a bit farther than the school shuttle is going to take you, look into what public transportation your city does offer. Even if they only have a few bus routes, they still may be able to take you where you want to go.
The travel culture in America can impact you as well. Road trips are a huge college staple. They’re known as a traditional coming-of-age ritual, so they’re definitely popular around this time in students’ lives. Road trips are always an amazing experience, so you should jump on the opportunity if one arises.
However, make sure the group you’re going with knows the importance of planning and budgeting. When my friends and I went on a cross-country road trip, we were so focused on the exciting parts of the trip that we didn’t figure in how much money we would need for everything on the drive. We ended up staying in a casino’s 24-hour café to take a rest from the road.
Cars can be awesome, but they don’t have to be a necessity. There are plenty of ways to get around off-campus without having a car yourself — it’s one less thing to worry about, too!
Tax season has already begun and many international students are not aware that they must file a US tax return as well – even if they’ve never earned any money in the US. All students must file their US taxes on or before April 18, 2016. For most international students, this process will be easy and straightforward. Read on to see what you need to submit, as well as helpful resources in case you need assistance
Does Everyone Need to File?
As part of your visa requirements all international students are required to file taxes. The forms you will need to submit are dependent on whether you have made any income or not.
Regardless of whether you’ve earned income or not, all international students and their dependents must file Form 8843. If you are in the US with dependents, this form must be filed by your dependents independently (which includes a separate envelope!).
What is Eligible for Taxation?
If, as an international student, you have been receiving an income in the US, then you will need to pay taxes on it. Below are 3 common sources of income for international students:
- Wages from a job in the United States (on-campus, off-campus, OPT job)
- A scholarship from an American organization
- Interest made from an American bank account
For a complete list of what could be considered a potential income source be sure to check the IRS website. If you have received income in the last calendar year, you will also need to file Form 1040NR-EZ.
For more in-depth information regarding how to file your taxes and what forms you’ll need to submit, be sure to read the Student Tax Return page from InternationalStudent.com.
“There’s no place like home” is a popular saying in the U.S.
Studying in the U.S. is a great opportunity, but heading home to visit friends and family is especially exciting. No matter how much you’re enjoying your time in the U.S., it’s normal to feel some homesickness.
Before you go back to your home country, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting on the flight. These are easy to overlook, as you’ll likely have lots of other things on your mind as you prepare for the trip. These four tips will help make your trip a whole lot easier. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2016 tax season officially opened on January 19. No one looks forward to doing their taxes, but with the new American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) it might be worth taking some time to file. This tax credit was first available in 2009; and, in 2012 was extended to continue until 2017. So you may still be eligible! What does eligibility mean exactly? It means that you may be able to receive a partially refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 on your educational costs.
What is the American Opportunity Tax Credit?
The AOTC is a tax credit that was started by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In essence, it is a way to lift the burden of educational costs on families and individuals. There are two different tax credits which are available, the American opportunity credit and the lifetime learning credit. Now what’s the difference?
- American Opportunity Credit: This credit allows for a 40% refund and you are only eligible if you are in the first 4 years of post-secondary education.
- Lifetime Learning Credit: If you claim this credit you are not eligible to receive a refund of any kind, however it helps in limiting the amount of tax you will be asked to pay on your taxable income. In addition, this credit is not limited to the first 4 years, but can be claimed for any type of post-secondary education and/or courses taken to improve job skills.
Read the rest of this entry »
Most of you have started or will be starting a new semester. At the start of each new semester, is when students find themselves spending the most money. On what, you ask? A new course load means new classes and new classes mean lots of new books. It´s that time of the year where you need to go through your class syllabi and add up how much you´ll be spending on books. Every year it seems that textbook prices keep on rising, but at the same time the opportunities to save money on books are constantly growing as well. Below are 3 ways to save money on textbooks, which you can then use to enjoy your weekends! Read the rest of this entry »
Are you thinking that attending university in the U.S. is right for you, but you don’t know where to begin? The transferring process may seem daunting, so it’s easy for a prospective student to get overwhelmed.
But don’t let that uncertainty keep you from following your dreams — as long as you do your research and cover your bases, a U.S. college education is absolutely within your grasp. No matter where you’re thinking of going, look through these four points, and you’ll have a solid foundation for preparing for your U.S. college education:
Get Your Test Prep in Order
U.S. colleges use the results of standardized tests to compare applicants from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Colleges will accept either SAT or ACT results — which one is best for you depends on a number of factors, like your need for the deeper science and math testing of the ACT, or the literary focus of the SAT.
If you’re coming from a non-English speaking country, most universities will also require your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) results, so be sure to prepare for and schedule those as early as possible if you haven’t yet. There is a limited number of test dates every year. Read the rest of this entry »
Now that many of you have experienced your first semester, or first few quarters, as an international student you probably have already established your routine. Although we all try our hardest to manage our finances, it is an ongoing process and there is always room for improvement. Now that you have figured out what works for you, it might be a good idea to create a new budget going into 2016, to save some dollars and cents where possible. Here are some tips on where to begin making some financial changes. Read the rest of this entry »
On November 16th, the Institute of International Education published its 2015 Open Doors Report. The Open Doors Report is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and provides an in-depth look into the changing trends of international students who study in the U.S. and of American students who study abroad. This year’s report showed that in the 2014/2015 academic year, the number of international students attending U.S. universities reached a record high of 974,926- nearly 1 million students. This is a 10% increase, which is the highest growth rate in 35 years. The top 3 countries of origin, in order, were China, India, and South Korea. Students from these three countries made up more than 50% of all international students in the U.S. In addition to the above mentioned, there was significant growth in the number of international students coming from Brazil, Kuwait, and Nigeria. With all these growing numbers the real question is, how exactly do they fund their U.S. programs? Below are the top 5 ways internationals students funded their international education in the U.S.
- Personal and Family
The Open Doors Report shows that in the 2014/2015 academic year personal and family finances were the primary source of funding for about 65% of international students. What does this mean exactly? This includes any personal savings you or your parents may have that are then used towards your higher education. Personal loans could also fall under this category, being that once you have received the loan it is part of your personal finances. It is always best to plan ahead and save as much money as you can, so that if you need to take out a loan it is the lowest amount possible. For more information on how to go about budgeting and saving click here!
- U.S. College and University
The second most utilized source of funding came from U.S. colleges and universities. This year’s report shows that the following eight institutions were hosts to more than 10,000 international students: New York University, University of Southern California, Columbia University, Arizona State University, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Northeastern University, Purdue University – West Lafayette, and University of California – Los Angeles. With such high numbers of incoming students, it is not a coincidence. There are many universities that promote the influx of international students and offer financial aid through scholarships or grants. Once you decide to study abroad it is important to do your research about what the different universities can offer you.
- Foreign Government and University
It is no coincidence that countries such as Kuwait and Brazil have had an incredible increase in the number of students in the U.S. The government of these two countries have been working hard to provide opportunities for their citizens to have access to an international education. In Kuwait the Ministry of Higher Education sponsors undergraduate and graduate students who wish to pursue programs abroad and in Brazil the government offers the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program for students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. With each new year more and more government programs are being created to promote international education.
- Current Employment
Although it is possible to find and receive financial aid, sometimes it is not enough and a part-time job can help with any unexpected costs that may arise during your time abroad. Many international students are under the impression that they will not be able to work during their time in the U.S., but this is false. It is true, that your employment options may be limited, but it is possible. Take a look at our section on working in the U.S. for more information.
- Foreign Private Sponsor
Before more and more government agencies were placing international education at the forefront, there were private businesses or organizations offering a bit of help to those interested in going abroad. Although a smaller percentage of students, one percent, made use of such sponsorships it is always good to be aware of your options to not miss out on any good opportunities.
Think you might need an international student loan? Check out our loan information page to see what we can offer you!
On October 1st, the Institute of International Education (IIE) announced that more than 600 partners have committed to the Generation Study Abroad Initiative and have pledged a total of $185 million.
Established by the Institute of International Education in 2014, Generation Study Abroad is a five-year initiative whose goal is to double the number of U.S. students who study abroad by the end of the decade. This initiative has brought together partners from K-12 organizations, U.S. universities and colleges, social networks, and international universities and organizations to address the biggest obstacles students face when deciding to study abroad: cost, curriculum, and culture.
In just one year, these partners have begun to make practical changes to address these issues by focusing on: Read the rest of this entry »
Once you have arrived to the US and begin settling into your new college environment, you may start to notice that most people do not carry around much cash. Almost everywhere, including parking meters, allow for the option of paying with a debit or credit card. For those international students who plan on staying a year or more, opening up a US bank account will make almost every aspect of your financial life a little bit easier.
Why Open Up an Account?
In the US, the norm has shifted from carrying a wallet full of bills to a wallet full of cards. However, having a bank account won’t just be convenient when it comes to your personal spending, but can be useful in paying for bills and cashing checks.
- Rent & Utilities: Although most students live on campus their first year, many tend to move off campus for their second. Off-campus housing means that you´ll be renting an apartment from a private owner that may have no affiliation with your university. Many off-campus residencies provide online portals for their tenants to be able to pay rent via the internet. Many gas and electric companies also utilize an online payment system. By having a bank account you’ll be able to make all of these payments quickly and easily.
- Cashing Loan Checks: Whether you will be receiving extra money from financial aid or you will have leftover money from your student loan, you will most likely receive it in the form of a check. With an account open, it will make the process of cashing these checks easier and give you a safe and secure location to keep it stored away.
- Getting Paid: For those of you who are planning to make some extra cash by working on campus, you will learn to love direct deposit. In the US most people receive two paychecks a month. With a bank account open you will be eligible to receive direct deposit, which means that rather than receiving your check then having to go into a bank to cash it, your money will go straight to your account on payday.
Read the rest of this entry »