Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

What is the Affidavit of Financial Support document?

The Affidavit of Financial Support document enables international F-1 Visa applicants to verify that they have the necessary financial means to support their education.  Verifying financial support with PennWest California also prepares you for demonstrating to U.S. Embassy/Consulate officials that you can afford your education. Demonstrating that you have sufficient funding is important to a successful application for an F-1 Visa.

Is there financial aid for international students?

Undergraduates can qualify for an academic scholarship that reduces tuition cost to the same rate that non-resident Pennsylvanians pay. This is a significant savings. To qualify, an applicant must have earned a minimum 2.5 overall grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) in previous secondary or college-level studies. This scholarship can be retained throughout the degree program at PennWest California so long as a 2.5 overall grade-point average is maintained.

Graduates can seek a paid graduate assistantship position that can help to defray costs significantly. A graduate assistantship requires 10, 20 or 30 hours per week of supervised work for an on-campus department. Most positions are 20 hours per week. It is advisable to apply for graduate assistantships well before beginning your studies at PennWest California, because positions are limited.

Are there any on-campus jobs?

The vast majority of on-campus jobs are funded through the federal work-study program, and F-1 Visa students are not eligible for these jobs. A very limited number of on-campus jobs are open to F-1 Visa students; these include state-funded work-study jobs or jobs with University Dining Services. Note that F-1 Visa students must be present on campus to apply. Graduate students may apply for a graduate assistantship position

How do I obtain an F-1 student visa?

You should apply for a visa at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country using the admission letter and I-20 form from the Office of International Programming and Study Away. You must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. You can schedule a visa appointment up to 120 days in advance of your program start date. 

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is the system used to create and update immigration records for F-1 Visa students. For more information, see Study in the States.

Every F-1 Visa student is required to check in with the Office of International Programming and Study Away within the first 30 days of each fall and spring semester.

What do I need to know about the United States?

You will learn a lot simply by living and studying in America, but it is best to acquire as much information as possible before you come to the United States. Websites such as and provide good information.

 It is also helpful to learn how your country’s currency converts to U.S. dollars and how various measurements in your home country differ from some in the United States.

How can I meet other international students?

You can connect with other international students at PennWest California by joining the International Club. Please email Andrew Conlogue at for more information about joining International Club and to be added to the club’s WhatsApp group, and follow International Club on Instagram at calu_international_club!