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New Student F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where is College of Charleston Located?

A: College of Charleston is located in the heart of historic Charleston, South Carolina, 115 miles from the state capital, Columbia, and 300 miles from Atlanta, Georgia.  Charleston is a coastal city and is only 20 minutes from some of the best beaches in the Southeast. The population of the Charleston metropolitan area is around 600,000. Learn more about the city of Charleston on the city’s website and the city’s visitor guide. A map of the city and campus (please note that the map is best viewed in Firefox or Google Crome):

Q: How accessible is Charleston?

A: Charleston is accessible from the Charleston International Airport in North Charleston. Amtrak passenger train services are also available from the North Charleston Amtrak Station.

Q: What is Charleston’s weather like?

A: Charleston has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters, hot and humid summers, and significant rain fall year around. You can visit The Weather Channel for more information.

Q: How well known is the College of Charleston?

A: The College of Charleston is a nationally recognized public liberal arts and sciences university. Founded in 1770, the College is among the nation’s top universities for quality education, student life, and affordability. The College offers a distinctive combination of a beautiful and historic campus, modern facilities, and cutting-edge programs.  You can learn more about the College of Charleston in the About section of the website.

Q: Who is considered a foreign or international student?

A: For purposes of applying for admission to the College of Charleston anyone who is not a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States is considered a foreign or international student.

Q: How many international students are at the College of Charleston?

A: We normally maintain an international exchange enrollment of 100 students per year from many different countries including: Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The College also welcomes many degree seeking international students from all over the world. For the Fall 2013 semester, we have more than 130 students from 34 different countries in our exchange, undergraduate and graduate programs.

Q: When does the school year begin and end?

A: The academic school year at the College of Charleston begins in late August and ends in early May. The fall semester runs from late August through mid- December. The spring semester begins in January for those students wishing to begin class midyear. You can view the academic calendar for a particular term on the Registrar’s Office website.

Q: What is the admissions process for full-time degree seeking international students?

A: International students (anyone who would require a U.S. student visa to study at the College) follow the same application process as domestic students, with a few additional requirements. As and international student, you will need to follow the application process for a freshman, or a transfer student if you have attended a post-secondary institution. Instructions for the application as well as application deadlines can be found at the College of Charleston’s Admissions website.

Q: What kind of tests does the College of Charleston require for international students?

A: if English is not your native language, you are required to submit proof of English language proficiency, regardless of citizenship. The TOEFL or IELTS exams are accepted by the College of Charleston to determine a student’s proficiency in English. The minimum required score for the internet-based TOEFL is 88. The minimum required score for the paper-based TOEFL is 570. The minimum required overall band score for the IELTS is 6.5 (academic format only).

 If English is your native language you must submit either an SAT or ACT exam score. 

Q: How many courses can I take?

A: For undergraduate students, a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester are required for immigration purposes and to be considered a full time student. This is usually 3-4 classes. In order to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years, most students will need to enroll in 15 credit hours per semester. Graduate students are required to enroll in 9 credit hours per semester to maintain their immigration status.

Q: Does the College of Charleston offer financial aid for International Students?

A: International aid resources for foreign students who wish to study in the US can be found at http://www.iefa.org/. This website has been created for international students who are interested in attending college in the United States and need financial assistance. Furthermore, student loans are available from: http://www.internationalstudentloan.com/.

Q: How do I pay tuition and related fees?

A: You may access your billing via the College's student portal myCharleston in the eBill section. To learn how to use eBill, visit the Treasurer’s website. Please note the billing schedule. The College of Charleston accepts Mastercard, American Express and Discover but not Visa. You can also pay via electronic check. For detailed information on international money transfer procedures to pay your College of Charleston tuition and fees, contact Melissa Ochal, Associate Director in the Center for International Education. 

Q: Where do I live while studying at the College of Charleston?

A: International students live in on campus dormitories. International students must apply for housing before they arrive to Charleston. Students starting at the College of Charleston during our spring semester (January), can apply for housing starting November 1st. Students starting at the College of Charleston during our fall semester (August), MUST apply before the May 1st deadline. Students apply for housing via myCharleston and can view instructions on how to apply for housing online. Once you pay your housing deposit you will receive your housing placement. International students may also choose to live off campus. You may check the College’s Residence Life web page for current off campus availability: http://reslife.cofc.edu/.

Q: What items are included in my room? What things do I need to bring with me?

A: The College’s Residence Life Office provides a list of items that you can and cannot bring. Please note that bedding is NOT provided. There is just a mattress in your room and you will need to purchase or bring bedding. Also note that the beds in different buildings are different sizes. The list of items indicates the bedding size you will need.

Q: Where can I stay during school breaks?

A: International students who are placed in the historic houses, Kelly House, Warren Place, George St., Liberty St., or McAlister all remain open during winter, Thanksgiving, and spring breaks. However, if you are not housed in one of these residence halls (dorms) and need a place to stay over the breaks please contact the Residence Life Housing Assignments office.

Q: Can I work during my studies in the United States?

A: F-1 students may work on campus during the academic year for up to 20 hours per week. Students can find available positions (non-work study positions) through the Career Center. Although, after studying for a full academic year F-1 students are allowed to find off-campus employment. There are two types of off-campus employment: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post completion). All off-campus employment must be related to the student’s area of study, appropriate for their degree level, and must be authorized by the designated school official (staff member at the CIE) and USCIS. International exchange students with a J-1 visa may not work off-campus during the stay of their program.

Q: Where can I receive medical care in the area?

A: If there is an emergency dial 911 to receive immediate care. All registered students at the College of Charleston are eligible to utilize the College of Charleston’s Student Health Services. The services provided by Student Health Services are: confidential care, care for minor injuries, care for minor illnesses, examination and consultation related to gyn problems, pregnancy testing, counseling, contraceptive information, STD testing, immunization updates, tuberculosis skin testing, asthma care, allergy shots, respiratory treatments, dermatology care, diagnostic testing, and assistance with referrals to consultants. 

Q: Do I need health insurance?

A: Yes, if you are on a J-1 visa. Private health care in the US is very expensive so the College of Charleston recommends that all international students to have health insurance. Additional information can be found in our New Student section.

Q: Do I need a car?

A: Probably not. Charleston is a small city in which most destinations can be reached by car. There is also the CARTA bus system that is free of charge for all College of Charleston with a valid College of Charleston student ID card.  CARTA bus transit system offers Fixed-route express and Para transit service throughout the Charleston metropolitan area, including DASH service in the Historic Peninsula area of the City of Charleston. The System can take you to shopping centers, hospitals, schools, cultural centers, city and county facilities, and office parks.

Q: Can I get a driver’s license?

A: Yes, all international students are eligible to apply for a beginner’s permit, driver’s license, or identification card. The expiration date of the driver’s license will be determined by the applicants authorized period of stay in the US or the expiration date of the applicant’s employment authorization document, but will not exceed 5 years. Visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.

Q: How can I get to campus from the airport?

A: A staff member from the Center for International Education can pick you up at the airport when you first arrive. If you need this service, please share your travel plans with us through the following link: International Student Arrival Form.

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