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Interested in Concordia University, St. Paul?

The International Student Services staff is here to assist you with any questions you may have.  We provide support services to international students in the areas of immigration, academics, cross-cultural challenges, and adjusting to life at Concordia University.

Banking

Why Open a US Bank Account?

A US bank account will make managing your finances a lot easier, and you should set one up as soon as you arrive. You can deposit your financial aid awards, loans and stipends, all of which are typically paid to you by check, as well as money from home. You can pay all of your bills by check, and with most bank accounts, you can even manage and make all of your bill payments online. In addition, most banks now issue debit cards with a MasterCard or Visa emblem, which means you can use the card to make purchases against your account anywhere that accepts credit cards, including online and in stores. Paying cash or purchasing money orders for payments is inefficient, carrying cash can also be dangerous and paying in cash doesn't leave much evidence behind to prove your payment in case of a dispute. Certainly a bank account will make budgeting a lot easier. 

How Do I Open a Bank Account?

Even though lots of banks now advertise that they allow new customers to open accounts online or by phone, as an international student, plan to open your account in person at a local branch. You do not fit neatly into a category for US banks, and if you need additional services it’s always good to have established a face to face relationship. When you go, make sure you bring your passport and the funds you want to deposit. In addition, you should bring as many of the following documents or ids as you have - although every bank has slightly different requirements, in addition to your passport you will likely need at least one of the following: your school id, your state driver’s license or id, your visa, your I-20, and your I-94. You do not need to have a social security number to open an account. If a bank asks for it, offer up your passport and any of the other id documents mentioned above.

How Do I Choose a Bank and an Account?

Banks offer many different financial services. You may wish to compare the services and costs of several banks before choosing one at which to open an account. If your school has a relationship with a particular bank for all of its international students, you should certainly consider that bank first. You will need a checking account for proper money management (for writing checks, online bill payment, debit cards, etc.), and if you have large amounts of money just sitting in your account, it may make sense to open a savings account as well. Investigate the accounts the bank has available, with an eye towards how much it could cost you to keep the account. Find out whether the bank offers interest on checking accounts, what the interest rate is on savings accounts and whether the account offers overdraft protection. Hopefully you never write a check, accidentally, for more than you have in your account - but if you do, does the bank pay the check and just fine you, or do they refuse payment to the company you wrote the check to ("bounce" the check)? If so, both the company AND the bank will fine you and that adds up quickly! 

Ask how long it will take to "clear" a check - that is, how long from the time a check is deposited in your account until the time you are allowed to withdraw the funds. Typically wired funds are available immediately, but the "hold" on checks (local, out-of-state and foreign) varies by state and by bank, and can be several days to a week or even longer. 

Most major US banks offer "student checking", accounts and services designed specifically for students - here are two U.S. banks that are located close to Concordia University:

  • TCF Bank University Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55104‎ (612) 823-2265
  • Wells Fargo Bank 1827 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (651) 205-5480

Credit By Examination

Concordia University will accept credits earned through either CLEP or Dantes

Housing

There are several resources available to help in your search to secure housing once you arrive on campus. Concordia University’s convenient location offers students a wide variety of housing locations. There are several on campus options to consider prior to looking off campus. However, if you are interested in living off campus the resources listed below are to help you find an ideal location.

  • Once you identify a home or an apartment that seems suitable, you should schedule a visit to walk through the unit and discuss several items. Each property handles fees differently. Fees to discuss with the property owner include but are not limited to, utilities, water, gas, Internet, cable, and garbage removal, as well as on street or off street parking should you decide to own a car.

  • When you decide on a suitable property you will be required to sign a lease, which is a binding legal document. It is important to read very carefully over the lease agreement and to make sure that anything that you discussed with the property owner is stated clearly in the lease agreement. Typically lease agreements are in twelve-month intervals, but can vary so be sure to find out the duration of your lease agreement.

Neighborhoods to consider: Midway, Thomas-Dale, Summit University, Macalester Groveland, Como, Longfellow

Initial Money Needs on Arrival

You should evaluate your needs for the first few weeks of school - most schools suggest bringing about $2,000 in readily available funds. You can bring this amount in traveler's checks, or better yet, bring your foreign bank card, after checking that it will work in US ATMs (automated teller machines), to access an account at home. All other money can be wired to your new US bank account after you arrive. Remember, if you have a scholarship, assistantship or another form of employment, it will typically take a month or more to get your first payment, so make sure you have enough money to live for your first few weeks.

Before you arrive, find out from your bank at home how to wire money to the US, and how much it will cost in fees. After you have set up your new bank account, you can arrange the transfer by providing your home bank with your US bank details. You will need to provide your account number, the US bank's name and address, and the US bank's ABA number. Wire transfers typically take between 2-5 days. Ask your home bank for a confirmation once the funds are wired. The Article is taken from International Financial Aid Blog www.internationalstudent.com

Resources for Child Care

There are several options for child care around the Twin Cities. Options include private in-home care or public child care centers. Here in Minnesota child care providers attain a license issued by the state government. It may be important to inquire about a child care centers qualifications before registering your child for that center. The following is a list of child care centers:

Hand in Hand Child Care Center at Concordia University
It is the philosophy of Hand in Hand Child Care Center that young children learn most effectively when they have the opportunity to explore their environment and experience a variety of materials and situations while they play. We also believe in a responsive, developmental approach to early childhood learning which emphasizes that each child develops at their own rate and that progress is measured individually rather than in comparison to other children in the group. Contact Kris Spiess at (651) 641-8491 or spiess@csp.edu to learn more about Hand in Hand Child Care Center.

KinderCare Learning Centers
KinderCare is a licensed child care provider with a variety of locations throughout the Twin Cities. KinderCare serves kids and parents in communities around the nation. This kind of scale and depth of experience helps us evaluate best practices and quickly put new findings, curriculum and programs in place, for the maximum benefit of every child. To learn more visit www.kindercare.com.

The Goddard Schools
These schools offer year round programs for preschool children. The Goddard School uses the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. To learn more visit www.goddardschool.com.

What To Do Before Arriving in the U.S.

  • Go to the website for your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and follow the instructions on how to obtain a non-immigrant F-1 student visa.

  • Sign the front page of your I-20 in blue ink and schedule your F-1 visa appointment by following the instructions on your local Embassy/Consulate website.

  • Pay the SEVIS 1-901 fee by going to the following website: www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/

  • Pay the visa application fee by following the instructions on your local U.S Embassy or Consulate website

  • Obtain and complete a student visa application form DS-160. You can find the DS-160 form here. (https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/)

  • Prepare the following items and bring them to your visa interview:
    • Completed visa application
    • Original I-20 form and the admission letter sent by Concordia University, St. Paul
    • SEVIS 1-901 fee payment receipt
    • Nonrefundable visa application fee.
    • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the expiration of your I-20.
    • Two identical color photographs. (2x2 inches)
    • Original school transcripts and public examination certificates, including a student copy of your TOEFL, IETLS, GMAT, or GRE score report if applicable.
    • Medical examination results in an envelope sealed by the medical office.
    • Official documentation to prove your financial support.
    • Any evidence that demonstrates strong ties to your country or any other residence outside of the USA.
    • All other documents listed on the visa application specific to your country.

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