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Incoming Exchange Student Resources

Incoming Exchange Resources


Instructional Videos: StudyAway Youtube Channel



Please click to expand the sections below for incoming student frequently asked questions:
Prior To Arrival

1. Language proficiency test scores below the minimum required by UGA?

Applicants are allowed to take language proficiency tests as many times as they wish. The TOEFL minimum scores are 550 (paper) 214, (CBT) or 80 (iBT). IELTS minimum score is 6.5. Students who do not meet the minimum required standards in this test can retake the test as long as the scores are submitted to UGA prior to the application deadline. For application purposes, the highest score achieved on those tests will be considered by the university.

2. How to arrive on campus from the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport?

Students flying in the state through the Atlanta airport and heading to Athens are encouraged to take the Groome Transportation Shuttle, which is the easiest way to get to the UGA campus. The shuttle works on an hourly basis and it stops in different places in Athens. For students who plan on living on campus, the closest stop to get off the shuttle is the UGA Georgia Center, which is on campus. Tickets can be booked online: select “Arrival Reservations”, fill out the form with personal information and complete the booking process by choosing payment type.

3. Which orientation sessions are offered? Are they mandatory?

Incoming international students have two mandatory orientations to attend: the International Student Life (ISL) Orientation and the Office of International Education (OIE) Orientation. We require that all incoming exchange and sponsored students attend both orientation sessions. The ISL orientation for Fall semester is one-week long and for the Spring it is reduced to a couple of days. The OIE orientation is always a one-day meeting. 

The ISL Orientation will cover many aspects of the Student Life at UGA. It includes interactive sessions on topics from immigration to course registration to UGA sports, resource fairs featuring local apartment complexes and university resources, social activities including a Walmart Trip and a pool party, and the opportunity to make friends with other new students and the World Leaders. The OIE Orientation is also very important because it addresses more specific aspects such as immigration issues, health insurance enrollment and waivers, tuition prices, student account payment, course requests, and others. Attention: students are not supposed to choose one of the orientations as these different sessions address different topics.

4. What is the UGA Meal Plan? How is the application process?

The University of Georgia Meal Plan provides students with high quality meals for an excellent value. The UGA Food Services has received 80+ National Awards for its excellence. Meal Plan participants enjoy unlimited access to all the dining halls on campus: Bolton Dinning Commons, Oglethorpe Dinning Commons, Snelling Dinning Commons, The Village Summit and the Niche. There is a great variety of options on a daily basis, including vegetarian, vegan, and other healthy options. The menu, the nutrition guide and the serving hours are available on their website. There is a variety of meal plans to choose from, depending on the student’s needs. Once students sign up, the charge is automatically added to their student accounts. For more information about the meal plans, please check out access their website

5. Do students recommend on-campus housing?

Exchange students love how convenient it is to live on campus and they all recommend this experience. The East Campus Village (ECV) is one of the UGA’s newest residential facilities, with many renovations. It is close to many other UGA facilities such as the Ramsey Center, which is the sports complex; the Visual and Performing Arts Center; the University Health Center; The Village Summit dining hall, and the Intramural Fields. All of these facilities are located right on the bus line

Apartments are fully furnished and move-in ready. They are usually four bedroom/two bathroom, with a common living room and kitchen to be shared with roommates. Resident Assistants are available to provide support to students, supervise, and make sure everything is great in the apartments. There is also a 24/7 help desk service at the main ECV office. University Housing is open during university breaks so students can travel and leave their belongings safe in the apartments.

6. How to apply to on-campus housing?

University Housing provides comfortable, affordable and secure on-campus housing options in residential communities where the academic success and personal growth of residents are encouraged and supported. Because hall and roommate preferences are prioritized in order of registration date, it is strongly recommended that students submit the $35 non-refundable University Housing registration fee as soon as possible following admission. Students must have a UGA MyID to register for housing. Registration is completed through The Dawg House and does not require you to enroll at UGA. View Assignments Policies page, the Community Guide and FAQs for more detailed information.

Note: When you apply to Housing at UGA you sign a legally binding document, which means that you are charged fees if you break the contract. You can pay for Housing through Student Account, which you also use to pay for all other services. 

7. How to register for classes?

The Office of International Education will help incoming students register for classes. Every exchange or sponsored student is required to have a minimum of 12 credit hours in order to comply with US immigration requirements. The platform used to look up and register for classes, add/drop courses, and check schedule is Athena. However, before having courses set up in Athena, students must fill out and submit a Course Request Form to OIE.
Once registered for 12 credits, students must never go below this minimum. If students need to add a different class and drop one they have, it is important to always add a course before dropping another one. Otherwise students will not comply with the minimum number of credits required and it may cause them problems with their status as international students at the university.

Students should do their best to be in agreement with their academic program at home so that they can transfer credits. It is important to wisely select the courses so that there is a balance between classes that are too basic (1000 and 2000-level classes) and too advanced (3000 or 4000-level classes). Depending on the exchange program students are in, there may be a set percentage of credits that can be taken in courses that are not related to one’s home university major. This percentage, if applicable, has to be strictly followed and students should check with their academic advisor on this. OIE staff will offer advice on alternate subjects to students who have difficulties finding classes that match their majors and level.

Some UGA colleges and departments have restricted access to their classes for students, especially if these are higher-level classes. In this case, once international students add the class, the following acronyms might show as the course status:
  • Pre-requisites = Previous Study Requirements
  • POD = Permission of Department
  • POM = Permission of Major
  • POC = Permission of College
  • POH = Permission of Honors
If students find these acronyms throughout their course enrollment, they have to communicate this to their education abroad advisor. This staff member will analyze the student’s home university transcripts to see if you have the pre-requisites to take that specific class. If considered at a level to take the class, the department will clear your status and you’ll be granted access to the course. Conversely, students whose transcript does not show pre-requisites for courses will be advised to choose alternate options. 
After Arrival On Campus

1. Top 6 to-do list after arrival on campus

  1. Get a UGA student ID. THE UGA ID is a very important document and it grants access to most of UGA facilities/services. It contains a student’s 81#, which is the UGAID number. For example, students use the UGA ID to ride the city bus for free, to have student discounts around town (on and off-campus), and so forth. To get a UGA student ID, a student needs to take a photo ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.) and $20 to the UGA Card Office. The UGA ID is ready after a few minutes. This is a one-time fee (unless a student loses the UGA ID and needs another one). For more information, please check the UGA Card Office website.
  2. Check-in with your assigned dorm. Once the UGA ID is activated, students must check in with the student housing facility they were assigned to. A check-in form will need to be filled out. UGA Housing staff will hand in apartment and mailbox keys and a stick on the UGA ID that shows which specific building was assigned to the student. To have access to the dorm, the student will need to swipe the UGA ID, and type a four-digit passcode that can set up here after the check-in. For more information about housing on campus, check out the University Housing website.
  3. Attend the MANDATORY Orientation events. Attend the International Student Life Orientation and the Office of International Education Orientation. Both events will provide students with important information about the student life at the University of Georgia. Topics such as staying safe in a foreign country, academic policies, registration for classes, immigration issues, student account management, health insurance enrollment and many others will be discussed.
  4. Situate yourself on campus. The University of Georgia has a huge campus. These are the five main facilities students must learn how to get to: student dorms, dining hall, library, building where they have classes, and the health center. The campus map is a good resource to be used prior the beginning of classes to avoid late arrivals. Students need to ride a UGA bus on campus need to check out the live bus routes. Students who live off campus and ride a city bus need to check the time tables on the Athens transit website. Students who wish to park a motor vehicle at UGA can find information about fees and parking decks here.
  5. Update U.S. address in Athena. In order to successfully register for some services at the University of Georgia, such as the Health Insurance Waiver, students must provide a U.S. address in Athena (on or off-campus).
  6. OIE Check-in: Students must go to the Office of International Education to check-in after arrival. Students must bring DS-2019, passport and I-94 to the office.

2. How to save money on textbooks and school supplies?

Students who wish to save some money on textbooks and other school supplies can refer to the five strategies below:
  1. Check the textbook availability in the UGA libraries: The University of Georgia Libraries include four main facilities on the UGA campus in Athens: the Main Library, the Science Library, the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, and the Miller Learning Center. Together the Libraries own over 4.6 million volumes and 6.6 million microform units, and we subscribe to over 7,000 print journals. UGA provides online access to over 48,000 electronic full-text journals, and approximately 400,000 full-text e-books. Librarian are available to help students over the phone, via online chat or in person. 
  2. Use Gil Express: Gil Express is a service offered at all libraries within the University System of Georgia (USG). This is an innovative resource sharing initiative that allows students, faculty and staff access to all eligible circulating material at all USG libraries. If a textbook is not available in one of the UGA libraries, students can check libraries from different universities within the state of Georgia and order it through Gil Express.
  3. Post on the Facebook group UGA Textbooks. There are always students interested in buying, trading, and selling textbooks. You can post the reference to your books and see if anyone is interested in selling them for a cheaper price.
  4. Look for your books online. There are many used books websites with cheaper prices or renting services. These websites are usually reliable and the book is received within a few business days. Remember: if you rented a book online, it needs to be returned by mail.
  5. Read it on the screen. You can also choose to have the electronic version of a textbook in an e-reader or mobile device. Electronic copies are cheaper and they are also available for purchase or rent. This may be a good strategy to save some money for those who do not mind reading on the screen.
  6. Discounts on electronics. Students can also save some money on electronics. Some brands and stores have online and in-store student discounts. When buying an electronic device or textbook, always ask if educational discounts are available for students.

3. What is the Add/Drop period?

The Add/Drop period consists of the first five business days after classes start (Monday-Friday). During this first week, students can get a sense of classes and adjust their schedules by choosing a different class section (if available), adding or dropping classes. This week is very important for students to review course syllabi and schedules and analyze whether they will be able to stay and succeed in classes they chose. Usually students can make adjustments until Friday at 5pm with no major implications or costs. The process is all online in Athena and students can do it on their own (though they can ask for assistance from education abroad advisors for advice or to add classes that require special permissions).

4. How to add classes after the Add/Drop period?

The process to withdraw or add classes after the Add/Drop period is more complex and has more serious implications. To add a class, students will need to talk to the instructor and ask for permission. Students should talk to the instructor in person and provide a reason for adding the course so late. If permission to add the class is granted by the instructor, students will have to fill out this form, collect the instructor’s signature, the Department chair’s and the OIE Education Abroad advisor’s (always the last one to sign the form). Once all signatures are collected, students will take the form to the Registrar’s Office. Note: Late ads might generate late add fees charged to one’s student account.  Note: Always add a course before dropping another one.

5. How to withdraw from classes after the add/drop deadline?

Every student can withdraw from classes if necessary before the withdrawal deadline, which is usually in the middle of the semester. We strongly recommend that you select your classes wisely and try to get a feeling about them in the first week of class, during the add/drop week. If withdrawal is necessary before the withdrawal deadline, a WP (Withdraw Pass) will be placed on a students’ transcript. But if the withdrawal happens after the deadline, a WF (Withdraw Fail) will be placed on the transcript. Please check the deadlines and the academic calendar.
However, even though in theory international students are allowed to withdraw from classes, in practice they have to check exchange program policies and talk to education abroad advisors beforehand. For some students there might be a minimum number of credit/hours that should be taken in order to successfully complete the exchange program. All Exchange students must have at least 12 credits at the expense of having their immigration status and exchange program validity affected.

6. What can students do if they struggle in classes?

It is very important to be sure of what is expected from you in order to succeed at a class. Expectations and teaching styles vary from course to course and even among different instructors teaching the same course. Students struggling in a class are encouraged to talk to their professor and ask for extra resources that could be helpful for learning. Professors at UGA are very accessible and they will help students who need to improve their academic performance. Professors hold officer hours just to address students’ concerns and questions outside of classroom time. Visiting an instructor during office hours usually proves to be helpful. 

Some classes have Teaching Assistants (TA), who are usually graduate students who help teachers with grading, taking attendance, planning, lab hours, tutoring, and etc. If your class has a teaching assistant, it is very probable that this TA has office hours to help students with questions about class, assignments, or content. The Division for Academic Enhancement also offers tutoring in many classes. If you think you need guidance on writing in English, you can also look for help at the UGA Writing Center.

7. Are deadlines and test dates negotiable?

Usually instructors provide the class syllabus in the first week of class with a description of all the expectations and requirements, a list of assignments/tests and their deadlines for the whole semester. However, adjustments might be necessary throughout the semester as unexpected events might occur. Not all professors negotiate deadlines and usually students have to follow them strictly on the penalty of having points deducted or not receiving any points. Therefore, always check the syllabus and the assignments schedule.

Students can talk to their instructors and try to negotiate an extension to the deadline if a plausible reason for that is provided ahead of time. If students get sick and miss a test, for example, students will need a doctor’s note to justify their absence and prove they were not in a condition to take the exam. In case you have an emergency, always contact your instructor. Never wait until the next time you are able to go to class. If you send an email, your instructor will make arrangements and plan how you can make up for missing the test or the assignment deadline.

8. Which resources does UGA offer to improve English skills?

Students struggling with the English language may consider several options offered at UGA:
  1. ISL language partner program: this program pairs up an international student with an American student so they can mingle, meet periodically and converse in English. It is not unusual that the US student will also interested in your native language and culture, so you can make arrangements to practice both languages if this is the case.
  2. You can enroll in UNIV classes, which aim at Academic and English improvement. They are very popular among international students who are still unsure of their English skills. You can review them here
  3. International Coffee Hour: international and American students hang out, talk and eat free food from a specific country on a weekly basis. It takes place at Tate Center (1st floor) on Fridays, from 11:30am-1pm. 
  4. If you need help with writing, you can make appointment with the UGA Writing Center, where a certified proof reader will take a look at your writings and assist you in understanding the writing process, elaborating on your ideas and theories and evaluating and editing your own work.

9. Which academic writing format is adopted by UGA?

Even though most international students might be used to specific text formatting rules in their own countries, the University of Georgia only accepts the APA (American Psychological Association) style. Every student should be familiarized with this writing format before submitting their assignments to UGA at the expense of having pointes deducted. To further understand the APA style guidelines you can purchase their book and/or check this website.

10. Is it possible to order boxed meals from the dining halls?

There are a couple of situations when students can order meals to go: if they are sick to the point that they might transmit a virus to other people (ex. if you have the flu) or when they have a packed schedule of classes around a meal time, for example, if you have classes from 11am to 2pm without a break that allows you to go to dining halls.
Students can talk to one of the meal plan dietitians, show a doctor’s note or class schedule and permission will be granted to order a meal sack and bring it home or to class.

11. How do I get around town?

To move around town, UGA students can use their UGA ID to go to many places for free. This document will give you unlimited free access to all bus routes within Athens. Check the Athens Transit website to see bus schedules and routes. The bus routes are very convenient and they cover a variety of places such as the Georgia Square Mall, grocery stores, downtown and others.

Taxis in Athens are not very common and easy to identify. They are usually big vans, but there is no standard color for these cars. However, these cars usually have TAXI painted on their sides.  

12. Are international students allowed to work or have a paid internship?

Exchange students can work during their exchange program as long as it is an on-campus job. Examples of on-campus jobs include working for the UGA Food Service system, at one of the libraries, as research assistant, and some others. Exchange students can only work within the university and there is a maximum workload of 20 hours/week. The Career Center offers many resources to help students find jobs on campus. Check out the Career Center calendar to see upcoming events.

Student workers you are required to have a Social Security Number. However, students can only apply for one after receiving an offer letter. A second letter is issued by OIE to officially state eligibility to undertake the job opportunity. These two letters must be taken to the SSN office (see their website for more information).

Remember: As international students, your main priority at the University of Georgia is to succeed in your exchange program. Thus, your main focus must be on classes, labs and/or research projects. Students should only search for a job or internship opportunity once their schedule is set. It is necessary to thoughtfully consider how many hours can be dedicated to work so that it does not affect academic performance.

13. Do students need authorization from the university before travelling?

Most exchange students want to travel during university breaks, extended weekends or holidays. If students plan on traveling within the country, there is no need for special authorization from the university. However, it is recommended that students:
  • Avoid travelling alone if you haven’t been in the country for more than a couple months. Travelling in groups is more fun, safer and cheaper.
  • If travelling on a holiday or extended weekend, be aware of the day classes resume and plan accordingly to be back in town before classes start. To avoid missing class due to unexpected flight delays, plan on returning the day before classes resume.
  • Be aware of class assignments before departure. Traveling is not an excuse for negotiating deadline extensions unless the trip has a professional and/or academic purposes. When in doubt, always talk the course instructor ahead of time.
  • Carry documents, money and other personal belongings close to you all the time and never leave them unattended.
For international travel, the process is a little bit different. Besides all the instructions above, if you plan on going home or to another country, you need university authorization before departing. You have to visit the Office of International Education and request a travel signature from OIE Immigration Advisors on your DS-2019 (undergraduate) or I-20 (graduate). This document needs to be used in US customs on the way out and back into the country to prove the student immigration status.

14. Is it necessary to carry the passport all the time?

After activation of the UGA ID, there is no need to carry important documents such as the passport. Taking it everywhere only increases the chances of losing them or even having them damaged or stolen. A UGA ID and a driver’s license (if applicable) is enough.  Students who do not own a driver’s license should carry a copy of their passport with them. Only use the original document if it is really needed.

15. What is the UGA Alert Emergency Notification System?

UGAAlert is the UGA emergency mass notification system. Effective communication is one of the major challenges in emergency management. UGAAlert is used to communicate prior to, during, and after emergencies. UGA students, faculty, and staff with a valid MyID can register up to three telephone numbers and two email addresses to receive emergency alerts. The system can push out thousands of messages within minutes. All international students should register and comply with instructions provided by UGAAlert in emergency situations.

16. Which resources can I use to help me find an internship?

While searching for Academic Training opportunities, students can take advantage of resources offered by the UGA Career Center, including a variety of activities, career fairs, and workshops to help UGA students succeed in the job market. You can attend events about job searching, cover letter and resume writing, interviewing and networking. Some of their events target international students specifically. Don’t miss their activities, they can definitely make you a stronger candidate for jobs out there. Check out their calendar to see upcoming events.

18. How to pay the student account bill?
You can pay your bill in several different ways: with cash, money order, paper check, electronic check from a U.S. bank, international credit card or with a U.S. credit card. You can go to the UGA Bursar’s Office or pay it online. More instructions on how to pay the student account will be provided at the ISL and OIE Orientations.

Attention: Be aware of the deadlines to pay your student account bill. Paying within the deadlines to avoid issues such as extra fees, having holds on your account and/or having your classes dropped. You may be charged a reinstatement fee of $150 if you do not comply with the deadlines. Plan accordingly to making wire transfers or any other money management strategy because bank transactions may take a few business days. The rule of thumb is: always make your payments at your earliest convenience. 

19. How to enroll in the UGA Student Health Insurance Plan?

Every international student must enroll in a Health Insurance plan. UGA offers the student mandatory plan. It consists of an accident and sickness insurance policy that provides coverage worldwide.  It includes diagnosis and treatment of illness, injury, or medical conditions, along with wellness benefits. Benefits include physician, hospital, surgical, pharmacy, behavioral health services (i.e., mental health / substance abuse), as well as legally-mandated benefits. Coverage under this plan is on a coverage-period basis and cannot be ended early. 

You must take action to activate your enrollment! To enroll, fill out the electronic enrollment form. Select “Enrollment Form”. Use your 9-digit student ID (81x) number and date of birth to access the Enrollment form. Once this enrollment form is submitted, a student’s coverage will be active in the United Healthcare Student Resources system and an ID card will be generated within 24-48 hours. Your coverage will not be active in the insurance company’s system until you complete this enrollment form. 

If you do not enroll before the deadlines, the university will complete the automatic enrollment process to enroll all mandated students who do not have an approved waiver request or who did not complete the Enrollment form. This process cannot occur until the waiver period closes and all waivers are processed.  If you need to access your insurance prior to this occurring, you need to complete the Enrollment form and activate your coverage yourself!

Insurance ID cards are available electronically once a student completes the Enrollment form. Students can access their insurance ID card electronically 24 hours a day through their United Healthcare My Account.  Create or log into your United Healthcare My Account at United Healthcare will not mail insurance cards unless a student requests one to be mailed through his/her My Account.

Questions about student health insurance may be directed to or 706-542-2222. Questions concerning plan benefits or claims may be directed to United Healthcare Student Resources customer service at 866-403-8267.

20. Are students who have Health Insurance Plans with international coverage allowed to submit a waiver?

Students who are mandated to have coverage under the mandatory student health insurance plan may request to waive out of the mandatory plan if they have other acceptable health insurance coverage. If you are staying in U.S. longer than one academic semester, you should submit a waiver application every semester. 

To submit a waiver, go to this link and select “Waiver Form.” Use your 9-digit student ID (81x) number and date of birth to access the Waiver form. You will immediately see a confirmation page. Please print a copy of the confirmation page for your records. The waiver request review may take up to 10 business days.  During this review period, students may be asked to submit proof of insurance coverage such as a letter issued by an insurance company attesting coverage and a copy of the insurance policy. Requested documentation must be in English.

In order to successfully submit waiver, students must update their US local address in Athena. The first time you access this platform you will see your Home Address by clicking on the Students’ Personal Information. Change this immediately and use your current on- or off-campus address. Waivers cannot be processed if you do not have a U.S. address at the time you submit it for analysis because you will not be considered a student who is temporarily residing in the country.
Attention: waivers should be submitted as early as possible. Every mandated student must be covered by a Health Insurance Plan by the enrollment deadline. If your waiver request result were not disclosed by then, you will have to enroll in the UGA student mandatory plan and pay for it. If your waiver request is approved after your enrollment and payment, you will be reimbursed. Students who do not enroll in the health plan because they are waiting for a waiver request result end up begin dropped of classes.
Before Leaving UGA

1. When shall students expect their Exchange Program transcript?

Students can submit a request to the UGA Registrar's Office to receive their transcript. For instructions on how to request this document, please refer to this website. The request may take 6-13 days for one to receive the transcript in their home address.