Frequently Asked Questions

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Please note that some questions apply for both newly accepted and current students

Newly Accepted Students Current Students

Can I come to the United States early (before the arrival dates)?
Can I come to the United States late (after the arrival dates)?
Once I arrive in La Crosse, how do I get to UW-L?
Once I get to UW-L, I want to call home to let my family know that I’ve made it to the U.S. safely. How can I do this?
Do I have to participate in orientation week?
Can I stay in the United States after the date on my I-20 or DS-2019?
When do I know whether or not I’ll get on-campus housing?
I plan to live on campus. How can my parents and friends contact me once I arrive at UW-L?
I plan on living off campus. What do I need to do?
Do I need to bring my own bedding?
When do I need to pay my university bill?
How do I pay my student bill?
How do I register for classes?

Where can I find which classes will be available next semester?
Can I work on campus?
Can I work off campus?
What is the process to get a job? A Social Security Number (SSN)?
I don’t have a car. How can I travel around La Crosse and the surrounding area?
How do I get a Wisconsin driver’s license?
I have insurance at home. Do I still need to purchase insurance through the university?
What happens when I am sick and need to see a doctor?
Should I bring my own computer or should I buy a computer in the U.S.?
Where can I get a cell phone?
How can I get involved on campus?

Arrival and Visa Information

  • You can enter the United States NO earlier than 30 days before the I-20 or DS-2019 Report Date.
  • You will need to report to UW-L NO later than the arrival date indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019 Report Date. If special circumstances occur (i.e. delayed flight, illness), please contact one of the international student advisors to make special arrangements.
  • You must inform one of the international student advisors of your travel arrangements and your planned arrival date and time in La Crosse. If you have correctly informed us of your arrival date and time, we will have someone meet you when you arrive in La Crosse to take you to UW-L. If you arrive in La Crosse before or after the specified arrival dates, taxi service is available to take you to campus. If you plan on arriving early you must contact an international student advisor as soon as you have your flight information. If space is available, you may be able to stay on campus for an additional fee of $35.00 per night.
  • To call home you can purchase an international calling card once you arrive in the U.S.; the staff in the Office of International Education (OIE) can help you find the most cost-efficient card. If you brought a computer with you, you may want to call home by using Skype. Calling computer-to-computer is free of charge; calling a landline costs a small amount. For more information, please visit Skype’s website at www.skype.com.
  • All new international students (holding an F-1 or J-1 visa) are required to attend the international student orientation. These orientation sessions will help you to learn more about UW-L and the services offered by OIE. Orientation sessions also serve as a great way to explore the La Crosse area and meet new people.
  • F-1 students are allowed to stay in the U.S. up to 60 days from their program end date. J-1 students are allowed to stay in the U.S. up to 30 days from their program end date.

Housing Information

  • Students wishing to apply for university housing can do so at http://reslife.uwlax.edu/roomsignup/incomingstudents/ You will need your Student ID number, listed on your Admission Letter from UW-L in order to apply for housing. Please Note: You do not need to pay the $75 dollar deposit in order to apply for housing. This fee is waived for new international students.
    For more information please see page 5 of the Global Connection booklet, which was sent to you with your admission packet and can be found on the Orientation, Arrivals and Housing page.
  • If you will be living on campus, you will receive your address and room assignment when you arrive at UW-L. You will also receive your telephone number when you move into the residence hall. (Note: Please do not send packages or mail to UW-La Crosse until you know your campus address. Please do not send packages to the Office of International Education). Additionally, each hall has a computer lab, which is connected to the University network. Once you receive your log-on username and password for the UW-L network, you will be able to use the computers in the residence hall or any other open access computer lab on campus.
  • You will be responsible for making living arrangements if you choose to live off-campus. The Office of International Education does not provide any assistance for locating off-campus housing. There are, however, several places to find off-campus housing options, including through the website listed by UW-La Crosse’s Residence Life (http://www.findaplacetolive.com/); the La Crosse Tribune, a newspaper (www.lacrossetribune.com); Craigslist, a community-centered website (www.craigslist.com); or at the Apartment Connection website (www.apartmentconnextion.com). Off-campus housing close to campus fills quickly, so if you prefer to live off-campus, we recommend you begin your search well in advance to your planned move-in day.

    Please note that the Office of International Education recommends that new students live on campus for at least their first year at UW-L. Please also note that students living off-campus are REQUIRED to provide OIE with their local address and telephone number as soon as they arrive.

  • Your residence hall does not provide bedding (blankets, sheets, pillows) or towels, but we schedule a shopping trip during orientation week so that you can buy these items. You can choose to bring these items with you if you would like, but since the cost of flying with excess baggage can be expensive, we encourage you to buy these items upon arriving in La Crosse.

Payment Information

  • You will need to pay your university bill on the due date specified in the e-mail you will receive from the Cashiers Office. Your UW-L bill will be sent to your UW-L e-mail account during the first week of classes and will be due 30 days after school starts. The date(s) that your university bill will be due can also be found at the following website: http://www.uwlax.edu/cashiers/tuitionfeeschedule.htm
  • Tuition bills are e-mailed to your university e-mail address. (Note: Please check your UW-L e-mail account frequently, as you’ll receive important information from the Office of International Education, other offices, as well as from your instructors through this e-mail address). Current billing details can also be viewed online through WINGS. To access WINGS, you will need to enter the username and password you have been assigned by UW-L.

    There are several ways you can pay your UW-L bill. The two options most highly recommended by the Office of International Education are to pay your bill through a wire transfer or to go through Western Union to pay your bill.

    If you choose to do a wire transfer, you will be able to set up a bank account during the first week of orientation. The person paying your bill will then be able to wire money to your American bank account.

    The Cashier's Office has partnered with peerTransfer to offer an innovative and streamlined way to make international tuition payments. peerTransfer’s mission is to save international students and their families money that would otherwise be lost on bank fees and unfavorable foreign exchange rates. With peerTransfer, you are offered excellent foreign exchange rates, allowing you to pay in your home currency (in most cases) and save a significant amount of money, as compared to traditional banks. In addition, the posting of the payment into your UW-L account will be faster, and you will be notified via email when it is received.

    If you choose to go through Western Union, you will need to advise the person paying your bill to send the money to the exact address written below:

    Check Advance
    510 Cass Street
    La Crosse, WI 54601 USA

    You may prefer to pay your bill by credit or debit card. Please be advised that paying by credit card will cost you an additional 2.75% surcharge. Your tuition bill can be paid online through WINGS by electronic check (e-check) or by credit/debit card. MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Diners Club are accepted, but VISA is not accepted because of their surcharge structure.

    As for paying with cash, please note that U.S. Customs does not allow individuals to carry more than $10,000 USD. Additionally, the Office of International Education does not advise carrying large amounts of cash with you. If you do pay by cash or check, you can pay at the Cashiers Office, 121 Graff Hall or by mailing a check to the Cashiers Office at the following address:

    UW-La Crosse- Cashier's Office
    121 Graff Main Hall
    1725 State Street
    La Crosse, WI 54601 USA

Registration Information

Employment Information

  • International students holding an F-1 Visa and students on J-1 Visas sponsored through UW-L are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on campus while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week on campus when school is not in session. If a student takes one class during Winter Intersession or summer session, the student can only work up to 20 hours per week during that session.
  • F-1 and J-1 students are not allowed to work off campus. The only exception to this rule is if a student faces severe economic hardship. If this is the case, the student will be able to apply to work off-campus through Homeland Security after the student has been at UW-L for at least nine (9) months. The student will then need to make an appointment with one of the international student advisors to fill out the necessary paperwork. In addition, if a student has been offered an off-campus internship, the student will need to contact one of the international student advisors in order to fill out the necessary paperwork.
  • Once you have applied and received an offer to work for a department on campus or Chartwells (University Dining Services), you will need to contact one of the international student advisors. If you have a SSN and have never worked on campus, you will need to contact one of the international student advisors in order to complete the I-9 form.

    You will need to bring your passport, I-94 card and I-20 or DS-2019 and an ‘offer of employment letter’ to this meeting. After completing the I-9 form the student will need to make an appointment with Mark Flottmeier (mflottmeier@uwlax.edu) in Human Resources (144 Graff Main Hall).

    If you have worked on campus before, please make sure your paperwork is current.

    If you do not have a SSN, you must first receive a job offer from a department on campus or Chartwells. You will then need to obtain a letter requesting a SSN from your employer. After this letter is filled out, you will need to drop the letter off at OIE for one of the international student advisor’s signature. After the letter is signed, one of the advisors will place it in the ‘International Student Pick-Up Basket.’ This may take up to three days. You will then need to take the letter, passport, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 card to the Social Security Office located at 210 South 7th Street, Suite 100, La Crosse, WI. Next, you will need to make an appointment with Diane Sasaki’s Student Assistant to complete the I-9 form (you will need to bring your passport, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 card). After completing the I-9 through the Office of International Education, make an appointment to meet with Mark Flottmeier (mflottmeier@uwlax.edu) in Human Resources (144 Graff Main Hall).

Transportation Information

  • Getting around in La Crosse and the surrounding area without a car is simple once you understand the bus system, the La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility (MTU). The MTU service area currently includes La Crosse, French Island, a portion of Onalaska, and La Crescent, Minnesota, and is free to UW-La Crosse students. Once you have your Student I.D. card (which you’ll receive during the first week of orientation), you can simply show the bus driver your card to ride the buses free of charge. To view more information about La Crosse’s MTU, please visit http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/index.aspx?NID=19.

    Additionally, taxis are available for traveling around La Crosse and the surrounding area. Although taking a taxi can be expensive (depending on how far you will be traveling), it is sometimes a faster way to get from one place to another. There are several taxi companies in La Crosse; a few include CTS Taxi (608) 784-7700; A-1 Taxi Service Incorporated (608) 781-6655; and Bee Cab Incorporated (608) 784-4233.

  • You can drive with your home country’s valid driver’s license for up to one year as long as your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin has not been suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified. After one year, you must meet the same licensing requirements as a Wisconsin resident. Please visit the following link in order to see the complete list of licensing requirements: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/index.htm.

    The Office of International Education also has an information sheet about how to get a Wisconsin driver’s license; please stop by the office for more information.

Insurance and Health Related Information

  • Participation in the UW-L group health insurance policy is required for all international students. This includes Exchange students (except ISEP, IREX, and NESA students, HESSEN exchange, Fulbright scholars, and government sponsored Middle East countries). The cost of the insurance is $888.00USD per year and will be added to your student bill. You will receive an e-mail from the Office of International Education when your health insurance card is ready to be picked up. Until then, if you need to go to the hospital tell them that you have health insurance through CISI (Cultural Insurance Services International); the policy number is CISI0090, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Students who are exempt from UW-L health insurance (ISEP, IREX, and NESA students, HESSEN exchange, Fulbright scholars, and government sponsored Middle East countries) will be required to turn in their health insurance policy in an English-translated version during orientation week. Failure to submit the policy will result in charges from the UW-L group health insurance company.
  • If you need to see a doctor, please be sure to bring your insurance card with you to the medical facility. If you forget to bring your insurance card, you will need to return the next day to the medical facility with your insurance card so that your paperwork can be processed and correct billing to the insurance company can take place. After doing so, you will need to fill out a claims form. You will need to stop by the Office of International Education, where one of our international student advisors or student assistants will help you fill out and send in the necessary paperwork.

    If you have health insurance through the university, you will need to visit the Student Health Center first before going elsewhere (please see exceptions below). The Student Health Center is located in the Health Science Center, Suite 1030, 1300 Badger Street, La Crosse, WI 54601. Please visit the following website to view the days and times that the Student Health Center is open: http://www.uwlax.edu/StudentHealth/index.htm.

    If you do not go to the Student Health Center before going elsewhere during the Student Health Center’s normal business hours you will be required to pay a $50USD co-payment to the UW-L insurance company.

    Please note that the Student Health Center personnel may refer you to a different medical facility, depending on your needs. If this is the case, you will not be required to pay the $50USD co-payment to the UW-L insurance company.

    If the Student Health Center is closed when you are in need of medical assistance, you should go to the nearest clinic or hospital, depending on your needs. Again, you will not be charged the $50USD co-payment to the UW-L insurance company if this is the case.

    Please also note that your UW-L insurance policy will cover many of the medical services you will receive, though the Student Health Center may charge a small fee for certain lab tests, immunizations, and medication. To view a listing of the Student Health Center’s common fees, please visit http://www.uwlax.edu/StudentHealth/Costs/Fees.htm.

Technology-related Information

  • If you wish to have a computer, you will be able to purchase one for a relatively inexpensive price once you arrive in the U.S. The Office of International Education recommends that you purchase a computer locally, as UW-L will only support U.S. version operating systems and does not support any foreign software or operating systems. Additionally, UW-L does not support pirated and illegal software and/or operating systems. It is illegal to use pirated and illegal software and/or operating systems in the U.S. The use of these items can lead to fines from government authorities.

    Please note that if you do have your own computer, all residence halls have individual resident network hook-up (ResNet). Information regarding minimum requirements for your computer is listed at http://reslife.uwlax.edu/reslifeis.

  • The answer to this question depends on how long you plan on being in the U.S. If you plan on being in the U.S. for less than one year, you may not wish to purchase a cell phone because doing so usually means you are agreeing to either a 1- or 2-year contract with the cellular company. If you do purchase a cell phone and agree to a 1- or 2-year plan and then decide you no longer wish to have your cell phone, canceling your contract can cost more than $100USD.

    If you are considering buying a cell phone and signing a contract in the U.S., there are several providers in La Crosse you may choose from. Some of these companies include Sprint, Alltel, and US Cellular. Please visit one of these locations for more information regarding available plans and pricing information.

    If you do not wish to sign a contract, there are other options. In the U.S. you can purchase a prepaid cell phone. You will be able to make calls from this cell phone as long as you have credit on your account. One company that offers this service is Alltel. Please click on the following website if you are interested: http://www.shopalltel.com/product/browse.htm?pgId=101&tNav=4&t=1

    International calling cards are an option, too. You can either buy these cards locally (for example, Walgreens and Wal-Mart both sell these cards) or you can stop by the Office of International Education for further suggestions.

Involvement Information