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International Programs

East Tennessee State University

9. Financial Matters

Shortly after your arrival, there will be financial obligations you must be prepared to meet. Knowing about these ahead of time and thinking about how you will take care of them will help you to have a smoother transition to studying in the United States. 

Be aware, estimations are based on an academic year of 9 months. If your do not plan to return home for the summer it is your responsibility to secure financing for a full 12 months. 

Please note, financial support is not a mere formality to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019. Nor is it to facilitate your entry into the United States. Rather, financial support must ensure that you will not become a public charge or take unauthorized employment while studying in the United States. This obligation begins when you, under an F or J visa, enter the United States and continues until the completion of your program or departure. 

 1. Tuition and Fees

After you have registered for your classes for the semester, you will be able to view your student account balance on Goldlink. What you'll see reflected here are your total charges (tuition, fees, required health insurance, and room & board costs if you're living on campus or have a meal plan), minus the value of any tuition scholarships you might have received.

The amount shown will be what you owe. You may pay the entire at balance at once, or choose a payment plan in which you pay 50% of the total at the beginning of the semester, and then make two more payments of 25% each on specified dates during the semester.

Important: Please be aware that you will be purged from the class rosters if you have not either paid your bill in full or set up a payment plan by the Friday before classes begin! (If you are not yet registered by that Friday, then you will be purged from class rosters on census day -- the 10th day of classes -- if you have not paid in full or set up a payment plan.) 

You should also keep in mind that, even if you receive a tuition scholarship or graduate assistant position, you will still be responsible for the payment of the "Fees" portion of your "Tuition and Fees." You will have to pay a portion of your costs at ETSU with your own money, in other words. 

Please visit the Bursar's Office webpage for additional information and details about paying your student account balance:

Estimated Annual Cost of Attendance for Purposes of I-20 or DS-2019

2. Room & Board

For information about the accommodations and meal plans available on campus, please visit:

For information on the cost of on campus housing, please see:

For information on the cost of meal plans, please see:

It is very important that you do not overlook or underestimate the cost of living when considering how much money you need to have available for your education in the United States. Johnson City is a less expensive place to live than many other cities in the U.S., but it is certainly not free! Whether you choose to live on or off campus, you should plan to spend a minimum of $1500 per month on food, shelter, books and supplies, and personal care items while you are in the United States.

You do not have to live on campus, although doing so is a great way to meet new friends and to really become part of the ETSU community as well as to experience all that university life in the United States has to offer. 

If you wish to look into off campus housing options, please check here:

3. Health Insurance

The health care system in the United States is confusing, even for citizens. The most important thing for you to know is that you are required to have health insurance, which reduces the amount you have to pay yourself for any health care you receive in the United States. Medical services here are not provided by the government and there is a cost associated with receiving medical care.

Fortunately for you, the International Programs and Services Office automatically enrolls you in health insurance plan. The cost of this plan is added to your account balance. You cannot decline this health insurance. 

4. ID Services

Obtaining your ETSU student ID card as soon as possible is a good idea. You should have your ID card with you at all times when on campus. Also, you will find that some local merchants and services offer student discounts to those with a valid student ID card. Finally, you can put money on your ID card account so that it can be used as a debit card on campus and at some off-campus businesses as well. Often, you will receive a discount for using your ID card to pay for purchases! 

Please see for information on obtaining and using your ID card. 


 Financial Assistance

1. Scholarships

There are some scholarships designed specifically for international students. Scholarships reduce the amount you have to pay for tuition. For information about scholarship opportunities available to international students, please see:

Please note that the Merit Scholarships and Tuition Scholarships, for both undergraduate and graduate students, have different values. The Merit Scholarship covers one half of the tuition charge, but does not cover fees. The Tuition Scholarship covers the total cost of the tuition charge, but does not cover fees.

There are no scholarships that specifically cover other costs, such as housing. See below for information on graduate assistantships, which may provide a stipend that could be used for expenses other than tuition. 

2. Graduate Assistantship

For graduate students, some departments offer graduate assistantships, which reduce the amount of tuition you have to pay, plus provide a stipend in exchange for work you do for the department. The stipend may be used to assist you in meeting your living expenses, purchasing books and supplies, or for any other costs you incur while studying in the United States. 

For information on graduate assistantships, please contact your academic department's Graduate Program Specialist. 

3. On-Campus Employment 

International students are limited in the types of employment they may pursue while studying in the United States. In general, as an international student, you may work on campus only, and for no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Jobs are not guaranteed to international students. There are a limited number of positions available; you can view these at:

Please note when searching that international students are eligible only for "RSWP" (Regular Student Work Study) positions. 

Table of Contents

  1. Requesting I-20 or DS-2019
  2. Immigration
  3. Travel Arrangements
  4. Immunization and Health Insurance
  5. Academics
  6. International Friendship Program
  7. Housing and Meal Plans
  8. New Students' Check-in and Arrival Briefing
  9. Financial Matters
  10. Other Important Information
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