New International Students

New Students

Getting Your I20 and VisaI20 Document

In order to be a full-time international student at a university in the United States, you are typically required to get an F1 or J1 student visa. For an F1 visa, you'll have to first get an I20 document and have a visa interview. For a J1 visa, you will get a DS 2019 instead of the I20.

You will work directly with the Penn State office called DISSA (Directorate of Student and Scholar Advising) in order to get your I20 or DS 2019. DISSA is located at University Park, and the email address for their pre-arrival department is Visit DISSA's website for more information about how to apply for the I20 or DS 2019 document.

Arrival Information

There is an airport in Erie (airport code ERI). The locations that offer flights to the Erie airport are Detroit, Michigan (DTW); Chicago, Illinois (ORD); and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PHL). Make arrangements to arrive to the Erie airport. Do not fly into State College, PA. State College is a 4-hour drive from Erie, and there are no direct bus routes connecting them.

If you have a housing contract to live on campus, and you arrive in Erie before the Arrival Day (see schedule below), you will have to stay in a hotel until the day that you can move into your on-campus housing. Here is a partial list of hotels to choose from.

Once you know your arrival information, please fill out this intake form to let us know when you are arriving, so that we can plan accordingly. You also can request transportation on this form.


Airport or Hotel Pickup

Typically, a representative from International Student Services is able to pick students up at the airport or hotel and bring them to campus, depending on when they arrive. Once you know your arrival information, please fill out this intake form to let us know if you would like transportation, and we will do our best to accommodate your request if possible.


Campus Map

Here is a downloadable map of Penn State Behrend to help you prepare for your arrival.

International Student OrientationLion Statue

International Student Orientation is mandatory for newly-admitted students before each fall and spring semester and includes:

  • Immigration Sessions & Information about Campus Resources
  • Mandatory Document Check-in & Immunization Submission
  • Shopping Trips
  • Information about Academic Expectations
  • Academic Advising Appointment & Course Scheduling
  • Opening a U.S. Bank Account & Purchasing a Cell Phone Plan
  • Social Activities & Opportunities to Get to Know Other Students


Spring 2017 International Student Orientation Schedule

Thursday, January 5 — Arrival and Check-in Day. First orientation session at 3pm EST. (First day to move in to on-campus housing)

Friday, January 6  — Orientation Activities including scheduling classes

International Student Services

Our International Student Office is housed in the Reed Union Building, Room 1. Staff members are Andy Herrera, Director of Educational Equity and Diversity Programs (, Debbie Hayes, International Student Advisor (, and Alecia Hollinger, International Student Advisor ( Please email questions to Debbie or Alecia or call the Educational Equity Office at 1-814-898-7101. To see more information about Andy, Debbie, and Alecia, please visit our Meet the Staff page.


On-Campus Housing

Living on campus can be beneficial for making friends, and it is more convenient than trying to drive through the snow in winter. For these reasons, we do recommend that freshman international students live on campus, at least for the first year. Here is a link with information about on-campus housing. Keep in mind that once you accept your housing contract, you are legally obligated to pay that contract, so be sure that you want to live on campus before accepting the contract. You also can see the costs for on-campus housing here.


Off-Campus Housing 

There are many options for off-campus housing, some very close, but most requiring a car or other transportation to campus. You can see a list of available rentals here. The two apartment complexes within walking distance to campus are University Gate Apartments and Hudson Lofts. Please visit their websites for more information about availability and pricing.

Paying Your Bill

The final tuition and fees rates for the 2016/17 academic year will not be available until July, but to give you an idea, here are the tuition and fees amounts from the 2015/16 year. Amounts listed are for one semester, and are the out-of-state tuition rates.

2016/17 Semester Tuition and Fees for Freshman Students 

Type of Fee Cost
Tuition $10,937
Activity Fee $102
Information Technology Fee $252
Facility Fee $126
International Fee $500
Tuition and Fees Total $11,917


Visit the Bursar's website to find out more about the tuition and fees rates and payment options.


Tuition Bill Due Dates

Spring 2017 Tuition Bill for new students scheduling classes after January 1  - Bill will be available February 1 and will be due February 22

In general, tuition bills are due:

Fall Semester: Due the 22 of August

Spring Semester: Due the 22 of December

Summer Session: Due the 22 of May


Housing and Dining Costs

To see the current on-campus room and board costs, visit Penn State Behrend's Housing website. 

Health Insurance

Here is a website that helps to explain common insurance terms, which can be quite confusing at first.  Health insurance for international students is mandatory for several reasons. Health care can be extremely expensive in the United States and the United States does not have a national health care plan.


To Purchase Penn State's AETNA Policy

  • Go to Aetna's website 
  • Click on enroll: students and dependents.
  • Select program type – international student
  • Select student type – undergraduate (all other).
  • Type in your 9-digit Penn State ID number and birth date.
  • Go to 16/17 Undergraduate & Graduate Students & Dependents and click on select plan
  • You now have the option to purchase an optional dental discount plan. This is NOT an actual dental insurance policy. It is discount card that should give you a discount when receiving dental services. The cost is $25. If you wish to add the dental card, click on “select plan” for 16/17 Vital Savings on Dental.
  • Add your personal information. You must wait to complete this form until you have your U.S. address and a phone number, as that information is required. 
  • You will then need to complete the rest of the pages and submit. You will need to have a credit card to pay for this online.


To Use Your Own Insurance Policy

It is possible to use a different health insurance policy than the Penn State AETNA Insurance policy, but your policy must meet all sixteen waiver standards listed below. There are no exceptions to these sixteen waiver standards.

Sixteen Waiver Standards:

  1. US carrier or entity approved to do business in the USA and ACA compliant;
  2. 100% preventive care and contraceptive coverage (Preventive examinations, immunizations and screening tests, as required by the ACA and the State of Pennsylvania for Student Health Insurance Plans);
  3. Coverage for both accident and sickness;​
  4. Coverage for pre-existing conditions with no waiting period;
  5. Deductible no greater than $500;
  6. Coverage for all essential benefits without a limitation;
  7. Pregnancy as any other illness or injury;
  8. Unlimited annual benefits;
  9. Inpatient and outpatient mental health/substance abuse as any other condition;
  10. No exclusions for injury or illness as a result of alcohol, drugs or attempted suicide;
  11. Prescription drug coverage with unlimited annual benefits;
  12. Worldwide coverage;
  13. $3,000 In-Network out-of-pocket maximum;
  14. $15,000/$30,000 Out-of-Network out-of-pocket maximum;
  15. OR U.S. employer sponsored health insurance in place of standards 1 – 14;
  16. AND Medical evacuation ($100,000)/Repatriation ($50,000) limits. 

Your comparable health insurance coverage must remain in effect throughout the full academic year (*August 10, 2016-August 9, 2017). *Students beginning in the spring semester must have an effective date of January 10, 2017.

You must understand that you are responsible for payment of all fees for medical and mental health treatment not covered by your health insurance plan (including but not limited to deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, and the expenses above your policy maximums and benefit limits). You must understand that some health facilities may require payment at the time treatment is provided. 

To Complete the Health Insurance Waiver

Waiver applications must be submitted on an annual basis each fall semester.

Please complete the online waiver application through Aetna Student Health. You will need a copy of your current health insurance ID card and your health insurance brochure or plan description before you start the waiver. Your online application will be reviewed and you will receive an email approving or denying your application from Student Health Insurance. You must reply to that email and attach a copy of your confirmation letter or insurance card to complete the waiver. (The email address is

You must wait until you schedule your classes and pay your tuition bill before you can go online and request a waiver.


Late Fee

There is a $50.00 late fee for students who fail to fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement by the established semester deadline. There is a $100.00 late fee for students who don't fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement the second and any subsequent times. Late fees must be in the form of a Money Order. These can be purchased at many gas stations like GetGo or Country Fair, Walmart, and most banks or post offices.


Required Immunizations

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)​ - To satisfy the requirement, you must have 2 doses of Measles (Rubeola), 2 doses of Mumps and 1 dose of Rubella OR 2 doses of the MMR vaccine OR provide blood test results showing immunity.The first dose must have been given on or after your first birthday. Dose 2 must have been given at least 4 weeks after dose 1.​​
  • Meningococcal - required if living in University Housing - Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): also known as Menveo, Menactra. This vaccine is effective against the most common meningococcal infections caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. One dose of meningococcal vaccine administered at age 16 or older is required of all incoming students living in University housing who are age 21 or younger. Incoming students living in University Housing who are age 22 or older may submit either proof of vaccination or a Meningococcal Vaccine Waiver.  *NOTE not all Meningococcal vaccines are acceptable.  Make sure that you have the correct type of Meningococcal vaccine before receiving the immunization.

To see list of the other recommended (but not required) immunizations, visit the University Health Services website.


How to Provide Proof of Immunizations

For instructions on how to submit your immunization records, please visit the Submission Requirements page of the University Health Services website.

Things to do in Erie

Penn State Behrend is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, a mid-sized city that offers the culture and entertainment options of a large metropolitan area with an abundance of natural resources and the friendly ease of a small town.

Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city, Erie is located by Lake Erie's beautiful Presque Isle peninsula, which boasts a 3,200-acre state park offering more than a dozen miles of sandy beaches, boating, and a thirteen-mile trail for walking, jogging, in-line-skating, and cross-country skiing.

The downtown area offers a variety of cultural and historical attractions, including the Erie Art Museum, the Erie Playhouse, and the U.S. Brig Niagara, a victor in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Erie is also home to the Seawolves, a Class AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers; the Otters of the Ontario Hockey League; and the Bayhawks, an NBA Development League for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many shopping and dining options are offered along the Peach Street corridor, just a 10-minute drive from the Penn State Behrend campus.

This very drivable city is conveniently located within two hours of Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and is a comfortable four-hour drive from both Toronto and Penn State's University Park campus. There is also a public bus system in Erie, which is free for Penn State students to use with their ID card. For routes and timetables, go to the EMTA website or visit the RUB desk on campus.

For information about things to do in Erie, check out the Visit Erie website. For information about arts and culture in Erie, here is the Erie Arts and Culture website

Info for Parents

We know that the role of parents is very important in the education of their children, so we want to provide resources to keep you informed and involved.

  • Here is some information for parents from the Academic and Career Planning Center, which not only provides academic advising while students are choosing a major, but also prepares students for their career after graduation. For more information, visit the Academic and Career Planning Center's parent page


  • Here is a Penn State parents' newsletter that you can subscribe to that will help you stay informed about what is happening at Penn State, and the important dates to watch for. Here is a link to subscribe to the Parents' Email Newsletter.


  • The Personal Counseling Center has provided some frequently asked questions for parents about the adjustment to college life, and the associated challenges. Here are the parent resources provided by the Personal Counseling Center, and their Frequently Asked Questions page.