WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVE
For most of you beginning to read this booklet, you will spend the next few weeks settling in at Sacramento State. During the first few days, you will attend the orientation program, complete the registration process, locate suitable housing and transportation, take care of your financial matters, and find solutions to numerous academic and social problems. This handbook has been specifically designed to help our new international students complete these tasks easily and quickly. We hope that it will make your first few weeks at Sacramento State less stressful, and that it will serve as a useful reference in the future.
INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS AND GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT (IPGE)
One of the first offices you should visit after your arrival in Sacramento is the International Programs and Global Engagement office (IPGE) in Lassen Hall, room 2304. One of the IPGE's responsibilities is to assist international students after their admission to Sacramento State. The IPGE provides international students services such as orientation, immigration advising, community relations, and assistance in curricular or co-curricular activities. When you first arrive, you may visit the IPGE to obtain registration, housing, immigration, health, and orientation information including campus maps, or to speak with an advisor regarding any other problems or questions you might have.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ORIENTATION
Each year, approximately two weeks prior to the start of the Fall / Spring semesters, IPGE staff organize orientation sessions. All new international students are required to attend as the information presented during these sessions will prove greatly beneficial. The orientation agenda covers topics such as advising and registration procedures, immigration regulations, student services, and much more. Students are introduced to members of the IPGE as well as key university staff and advisors. Attending the international student orientation will help you avoid many of the difficulties which confront you during your first few weeks at Sacramento State.
All new international students enrolling at Sacramento State must bring their passport, SEVIS I-20 and other immigration documents to the OGE for review and processing. In addition, OGE staff will have to "register" all new students in the Immigration SEVIS System by the end of the second week of their first semester.
HEALTH INSURANCE and IMMUNIZATION REQUIREMENTS
F and J international visa students are required to present IPGE staff written proof of adequate health insurance coverage every semester as mandated by the CSU Chancellor's office. All policies are reviewed to verify coverage for unforeseen illnesses or injuries that cannot be treated by the Student Health Center. If health insurance is provided to you through a government scholarship, please inform an IPGE advisor. Registration holds will be set every semester if insurance information on file is not current. Additional information concerning health services on campus is available in the "Health Services" section.
Sacramento State International Student Health Insurance Policy
You may purchase the campus international student health insurance policy in the Associated Students Business Office (3rd floor, University Union) or online at www.csuhealthlink.com. The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Business Office offers a policy which covers medical expenses such as visits to physicians, surgical benefits, consultation benefits, hospital expenses, miscellaneous out-patient benefits, ambulance, emergency room visits, etc. This policy exceeds the insurance coverage level required by the CSU Chancellor's Office. Please review the insurance brochure in your orientation package or online for a full description of the policy. The cost is very reasonable given the full range of benefits.
Other Insurance Options
You may choose to purchase health insurance from another carrier if the policy meets the minimum coverage required by the CSU Chancellor's Office. Please bring a detailed listing of the insurance coverage to the OGE for review prior to purchasing a non-campus policy to ensure the policy will be accepted.
Insurance for Family Members in the US
Regardless of which insurance option you choose, you are required to purchase adequate health insurance for members of your family as the costs of medical care in the US are quite high. The campus policy allows you to purchase coverage for dependent family members.
After registering for courses, all new international students at Sacramento State are required to:
- Have a skin test for Tuberculosis at the Student Health Center. If you have been tested in the US within the last year, you may submit a statement from your previous doctor.
- Show proof of immunity to measles and rubella. Present copies of your immunization records verifying you have been vaccinated for measles and rubella to the Student Health Center during your first semester. Students who are unable to obtain verification can get vaccinated at the Health Center.
Registration Holds: Students who do not meet these requirements will have a registration hold placed by the Student Health Center preventing class registration for the following semester.
TESTING FOR ENGLISH SKILLS
During the course of your studies at Sacramento State, you may be required to take two of the following three English tests:
- English Placement Test (EPT) - Freshmen. Most freshmen and transfer students who have not completed English 1A or the equivalent with a grade of "C" or better must take the English Placement Test. Students subject to this test must take it prior to their first registration at Sacramento State. Register for the test online at www.csus.edu/testing. To obtain additional information, please contact the Testing Center (Lassen Hall 2302). Please contact your advisor at the IPGE if you are unable to take this test prior to your registration due to a late campus arrival date. Students will be required to register in their first semester for any remedial English classes in which they are assigned.
- English Diagnostic Test (EDT) - Juniors / Graduates. Since your academic success at Sacramento State depends in part on your ability to write in English, the Learning Skills Center has developed a short test designed to evaluate your skills in this area. Your performance on this test will enable an advisor in the Peer and Academic resource Center (PARC) to assist you in selecting appropriate courses to remedy any deficiencies and in choosing the best option to meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement.
- Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ). Students may be required to take a writing examination called the Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ) depending on their choice of Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).
Juniors: All Juniors must take the WPJ during their first semester in junior standing (60+ units) unless enrolling in English 109M.
Depending on the WPJ placement score, students will be advised what English courses, if any, they will need to complete in order to meet the graduation writing proficiency requirement. For more information on the WPJ exam, please contact the Learning Skills Center (Lassen Hall 2200), or the OGE.
NOTE: Non- native English speaking international students who have taken the EDT should register as Multi-lingual students for the WPJ. Register online during the posted signup period at www.csus.edu/testing.
TESTING FOR MATH SKILLS - ENTRY LEVEL EXAMINATION
Undergraduate students are required to take the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) examination prior to their first registration at Sacramento State (unless exempted). Your performance on this examination will enable staff of the Math Department to determine your skill level in the areas arithmetic, elementary algebra, and geometry. If you are unable to demonstrate a sufficient level of proficiency, you will be required to complete appropriate remedial work during your first semester at Sacramento State. For detailed information concerning this examination, please consult the section of your Class Schedule (entitled "General Education - ELM Test Scores").
- Calculus I (Math 30. Students wishing to enroll in Calculus I should visit the Mathematics Department (Brighton Hall 141) to make arrangements to take the Calculus diagnostic exam. Students may also wish to consult the Department of Mathematics and Statistics Diagnostic Tests web site at http://www.csus.edu/math/courses/diagnostic.htm for more detailed information (including in-person and on-line registration procedures).
- Chemistry IA. Students wishing to enroll in Chemistry IA should enroll in the class and visit the Chemistry Department (Sequoia Hall 506) to register for the placement exam given prior to each semester. A passing score is required for continued enrollment.
ACADEMIC ADVISING FOR REGISTRATION
Before registering at Sacramento State for the first time, it is strongly recommended that you meet with a campus academic advisor. Undergraduate students should plan on seeking advice for both general education and major (or minor) requirements. The following offices will provide you assistance in planning your academic program:
- International Admissions Office. OGE office. During your first semester at Sacramento State, the Coordinator of International Admissions will prepare an evaluation of your transfer units as they apply toward meeting your General Education requirements. The Coordinator will also assist you with undergraduate general education course selection.
- Academic Advising Center. Located in Lassen Hall, this advising center will help you with undergraduate general education requirements, graduation requirements, petitioning procedures, and selection of a major.
- Faculty Advisors. Located in all campus departments, these advisors will help you select your major and/or minor classes. Since procedures for the assignment of a faculty advisor vary by department, please visit your department office first for assistance and/or referral.
REGISTRATION FOR NEW STUDENTS
International students admitted to Sacramento State currently residing in California should visit the Office of Global Education for information about registering for classes. International Students admitted to Sacramento State who are currently residing overseas will receive information about class registration after their arrival in the US.
- Visit the International Programs and Global Egagement office for an Orientation Packet.
- Review the "Class Search and Registration Tutorial" handout in your Orientation packet for full details about how to view the class schedule and register for classes.
- Clear your Health Insurance registration hold by bringing proof of adequate health insurance coverage every semester to the IPGE.
- Take any required placement tests such as the English Placement Test (EPT), Math Placement Test (ELM), English Diagnostic Test (EDT), and others.
- Consult with your Academic Advisors in your major for class recommendations.
- Undergraduate Students: Consult with your General Education Advisor in International Admissions if you have questions about your GE courses or transfer units.
- Review the Class Schedule online and prepare a tentative list of desired courses.
Students wanting to enroll for a particular course they are unable to add prior to the start of the semester should attend the first class session and ask the instructor for permission to add the course using an Add/Drop form. Students will be able to continue adjusting their schedule during the first two weeks of the semester. Adds/Drops after the second week of the semester require a petition, and are allowed only for "serious and compelling reasons" (usually illness, change in employment schedule, etc.) If you have any problems with your initial registration at Sacramento State, please contact the Office of Global Education for advice and assistance.
Minimum Course Load
All international students (including exchange students) are required by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to maintain full-time status. An undergraduate international student is considered full-time when enrolled in a minimum of 12 semester units. A graduate student is considered full-time with 9 semester units. Second Bachelor's students are considered graduate students for enrollment purposes and are full-time with 9 semester units.
A student may be authorized to register for fewer units than the above-stated minimum if:
- Fewer than the minimum number of units remains to graduate. Permission to enroll for fewer units should be obtained from the OGE before the semester begins. Graduate students who have already enrolled in a previous semester for the Master's Project/Thesis who only have the thesis/ project left to complete are required to enroll for only one unit (not through Continuous Enrollment). Permission to enroll should be obtained from the OGE.
- Due to extenuating medical or other circumstances, a student will be unable to successfully complete the prescribed minimum number of units. This waiver usually requires a written recommendation of a doctor or counselor, and permission by a staff member of the OGE.
NOTE: A Student must enroll for the minimum required number of units at Sacramento State unless permission is granted before the start of the semester by a staff member of the OGE to register concurrently at another campus.
TUITION AND FEES
It is very important that international students fully understand all university regulations and policies pertaining to tuition and fees, fee payment deadlines, and refund procedures.
- Waiver of Late Registration Fee. Newly admitted international students are not required to submit the late registration fee during their first semester of attendance. The late registration fee will be waived for you by Student Financial Services for your first semester of study only. Late registration in a subsequent semester may incur a late registration fee.
- International Students Tuition Installment Plan. International students are authorized to pay the required resident fees and non-resident tuition on an installment basis if needed. A service charge is added to each installment payment to cover the cost of handling. International students who desire to pay their non-resident tuition fees and/or resident fees on the installment plan should visit the Student Financial Services Center for additional information concerning these options.
- Maximum non-resident tuition charged. The total non-resident tuition fee charged International Students during an academic year (Fall and Spring semesters only) shall not exceed 30 units. As such, students who enroll in excess of 30 units per academic year will not have to submit non-resident tuition fees for these additional units.
- Sponsored Students. Please make sure Student Financial Services Center has updated sponsorship information regarding your scholarship prior to the start of the semester.
- Exchange Students. In addition to normal registration procedures, exchange students should meet with their International Student Advisor in the International Programs and Global Engagement office. Exchange students are not required to submit tuition fees.
- Refunds. It is critical that students "drop" excess courses prior to stated payment deadlines. In addition, refunds will NOT be issued for courses dropped after the second week of each semester.
STUDENT IDENTIFICATION CARDS (ONE CARD)
All students are required to get a student One Card (student photo identification) in order to use campus services such as the Student Health Center, Library, athletic events, elections, student activities, and free off campus bus and light rail service. Each academic term a new semester "sleeve" for your One Card will be issued to you enabling you to use the Hornet Express Shuttle Service and Sacramento city buses and light rail free of charge. The card is available from the One Card office located near Brighton Hall. In order to obtain the One Card you need a valid photo ID (i.e. passport), your student I.D. number, and a document fee.
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
The Social Security Administration issues Social Security Numbers only for authorized on/off campus employment. International students with an offer of employment will be required to obtain a SSN for work purposes. The Office of Global Education must provide a letter to the Director of the SSA recommending the issuance of a work-related SSN. The letter must confirm full-time enrollment, valid immigration status and eligibility for on-campus work. In addition, F-1 and J-1 visa students also are required to present a letter from one of the University Human Resources Offices confirming the offer of employment.
F-1 and J-1 visa students and scholars should be aware that the Social Security Administration is required to verify every international applicant's immigration documents and status with US Immigration before issuing a social security number. International students should not apply for a SSN during their first 10 days in the US. The verification may take from a few days to 4 weeks depending on the circumstances. Campus employers usually do not allow students to begin on-campus employment until a SSN has been issued.
A Social Security Number is not required for banking or tax purposes. International students or scholars without a SSN may need to complete Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form W-8 "Certificate of Foreign Status". This form should be available from banks or the IRS.
For additional questions, please contact the OGE or the Social Security Administration (SSA) office closest to Sacramento State (8581 Folsom Blvd., Suite B, Sacramento).
A full service bank is a one-stop financial institution. It will provide you with such financial services as checking and savings accounts, safety deposit boxes, foreign currency conversion, overseas transfers of funds, credit cards, money orders, loans and travelers checks.
A variety of checking account options are available. To open an account, go to the bank of your choice and inform the new accounts clerk of your interest. This person will review the different account choices, have you fill out an application form and will process your first deposit. If your deposit is in the form of an overseas check, the bank will usually not allow you to draw upon this deposit until the check has been cleared and the money actually received by the bank. This may take 1-2 weeks.
Most banks also offer a variety of savings account options. When shopping for a financial institution to place your funds, it is recommended that you compare banks. Do not use interest rates as your only criteria for selection; services and early withdrawal penalties might be equally important to you. To open a savings account, contact the institution which you have selected and express your interest in opening an account. Upon completion of your application you will be given an official record of deposits.
It is sometimes possible for International Students to obtain one or more credit cards through financial institutions. Attempt to pay off any balance on your credit card each month. Be aware of the card company's policies and of the interest rate (usually high) that will be charged if you are not able to pay all or part of the outstanding balance.
Locating suitable housing accommodations is one of the major concerns for newly-arrived international students at Sacramento State. Students choosing to reside on campus in the Residence Halls should apply early. There are also a number of modern, safe off campus apartment complexes conveniently located nearby.
NOTE: Please remember to give the IPGE your new address as soon as you locate permanent housing. In addition, please update your "My Sac State" account with your new address. You should make these updates within 10 days of the move.
On-Campus Housing-Residence Halls
Housing options include traditional halls, shared suites and apartment style accommodations. Amenities vary depending on the option selected but may include lounges, recreation rooms, coin operated laundries, study areas, storage places, and kitchenettes. All accommodations are air-conditioned, carpeted, and furnished. Students must provide their own bedding linens and towels. Regardless of the housing option selected, students will find helpful peer staff advisors who organize numerous educational, social, and recreational activities.
Residence Hall students eat in a central Dining Commons which offers a wide variety of foods. You can use the kitchenettes to prepare a special meal. Residence halls also have their own recreation complex (pool, tennis courts, etc.).
For further information regarding residence hall application procedures and deadlines, please review Housing & Residential Life website at www.csus.edu/housing.
Many international students choose to live in off campus apartments close to campus. The Off Campus Housing Service offers online listings for students looking for off campus housing as well as for students seeking roommates. Visit their site at www.csus.edu/offcampus. Additional rental information and tips are also available. The university-affiliated Upper Eastside Lofts which offers shared loft-style (furnished) accommodations and is located within walking distance of the campus may be of interest to those wishing to live off-campus. For more information, please access their site at www.uppereastsidelofts.net.
For someone without a car, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around town is by bus and light rail. These options are free to Sacramento State students with a valid Student One Card and semester enrollment sleeve. Sacramento Regional Transit operates the bus and light rail system and serves virtually all parts of the Sacramento area. Light Rail and Bus Schedules are widely available and contain all the information you need to ride the bus. For bus schedules and more information regarding Sacramento Regional Transit, visit their website www.sacrt.com.
Due to rising energy costs and expanding biking facilities, bicycles are gaining more and more popularity in Sacramento. Many of Sacramento's streets now include bike lanes on the far right side of each direction of traffic. Sacramento State is easily accessible via the American River Bikeway which runs over thirty miles along the American River and has frequent entry/exit access. For further information regarding bike trails and reputable bike shops, contact Peak Adventures on campus (www.peakadventures.org).
Private Bus Services
Bus lines provide reasonably priced and convenient out-of-town transportation for Sacramento residents. Cities as close as Davis and as far away as New York are within bus line service routes. It is easy to use the bus; usually through one telephone call or checking their company website online you can acquire all the information you need to know such as bus fares (one way and round trip) and specific departure/arrival times for your particular bus. Bus telephone numbers are listed in the telephone book yellow pages; see "Bus Lines".
"AMTRAK" Train Service
Although Amtrak's routes are not as diverse as those of the bus companies, it provides yet another method of transportation for Sacramento residents. The AMTRAK passenger depot is located at 4th and "I" Streets. Direct service is available on the "California Zephyr" east from the Bay area and west from Chicago, and on the "Coast Starlight" (at Davis) south from Seattle and north from Los Angeles. For more information view their website at www.amtrak.com.
Sacramento International Airport connects the Sacramento area with most of the major cities across the US. Although direct international flights are limited, there are numerous daily departures to other major international airports (i.e. San Francisco, Los Angeles). Many major airlines serve the Sacramento International Airport. For further information regarding individual airlines, fares, time schedules, etc., call the airline, contact a local travel agent or search online.
Owning an automobile will provide you with the most convenient, but also most expensive, method of transportation available. Thus, before you attempt to purchase a car, carefully weigh all the alternatives and consider cost factors such as insurance, registration fees, maintenance, parking fees, gas, and monthly payments.
A valid driver's license is required to operate a motor vehicle in California. Under certain circumstances drivers may use an international drivers license from their home country to drive in the US. In order to obtain a California State driver's license, drivers must pass a written test on the California Vehicle Code, a driving test, and a vision test. When you apply, you will be required to present your immigration documents (passport, I-94, SEVIS I-20 or DS 2019) and your Social Security card (if you do not have a Social Security Number, please speak to your advisor in the OGE before visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles). The DMV requires a clearance from the USCIS before issuing your driver's license.
Tests are given at offices of the DMV. Every driver must learn the California Vehicle Code. This covers traffic and safety rules, laws, rules of the road, allowable speed limits, and road signs and symbols. Drivers who are arrested by the police for infractions of the Vehicle Code are subject to fines, suspension of driver's license, or imprisonment depending on the severity of the infraction. (Copies of the California Vehicle Code are available at any DMV.) For more information, please contact the DMV www.ca.dmv.gov.
It is illegal to operate an automobile within the state of California without adequate insurance. We urge you to contact an insurance agent, prior to purchasing an automobile, in order to get a quote on an auto insurance package which will meet your minimum needs as well as those imposed by the state of California. There are many reputable insurance companies listed in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. The cost of insurance depends on:
- The types (liability, property damage, comprehensive, medical, uninsured motorist) and amounts of coverage included.
- The driver's age, sex, driving record, smoking habits, place of residence, etc.
- The type of vehicle you plan to purchase.
IF YOU DRIVE, PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY!!!
Sacramento is served by several major shopping facilities, all of which are easily accessible by bus service. The Arden Fair shopping center is a major regional mall located only a few miles from Sacramento State. It includes clothing stores, toy stores, record shops, drug stores, department stores, shoe stores, restaurants, and even a movie theater. Also close to campus, in the downtown area, is the Downtown Plaza shopping center which is located within walking distance of Old Sacramento, a favorite tourist area. For easy reference, the addresses of these major shopping areas are listed below:
Arden Fair Shopping Center 1700 Arden Way
Folsom Premium Outlets 13000 Folsom Blvd
Country Club Plaza El Camino Avenue and Watt Avenue
In addition to these major shopping centers, every neighborhood in Sacramento has its own smaller facilities.These neighborhood shopping areas usually include grocery stores which supply practically all food needs. Also available in a typical neighborhood shopping area are fast-food restaurants, pizza places, or ice cream parlors. Depending upon the location, you may find a drug store, flower shop, clothes shops, theaters, and bicycle shops. The main attributes of the neighborhood shopping area are its proximity to major housing areas and the fact that it can provide almost all of your normal shopping needs.