Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Questions and Answers

Dear International Student admitted to Franklin & Marshall,

Congratulations on your admission to Franklin & Marshall, a college of very high standards. We have had almost a thousand international applicants this year, and the competition for admission has been very keen. We look forward to welcoming you and helping you to get the most out of your studies and experiences here. We expect about 75 new international students to join us this year, in a total international population of about 300.

The “Q&A” below is for students who will study here on temporary visas (primarily F-1). If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, we do not consider you an International Student for the purposes of this memo.

Please read this Q&A very carefully; planning to study in the U.S. is complex and you must give every detail your utmost attention now in order to avoid problems later.

Orientation/Planning Your Trip
I-20 Forms
Getting and Using Your Visa
Money Matters / F&M Costs
Financial Aid
Courses & Registration
Medical Matters
Communicating Further with F&M

Orientation/Planning Your Trip

What is Beginnings?

The College invites new students to come to "Beginnings," an optional one-day workshop held in May, to complete registration formalities. It is our practice not to send invitations to students with mailing addresses abroad, because we assume they cannot attend. But if you can be in Lancaster at that time, please let us know and we will be happy to welcome you.  Additionally, new for 2014, we have created "virtual Beginnings!"  "Virtual Beginnings" will be available starting Friday, May 16.  It will contain an online version of almost all things that occur at the on-campus Beginnings.  Students who are unable to attend on-campus Beginnings for any reason will enjoy this alternative.

By what date do I need to be on the F&M campus?

We will hold a special orientation for new international students from Tuesday, August 26, through Thursday, August 28, in which you are expected to participate fully. A different orientation for all first year students begins that Thursday evening. You should arrive in Lancaster no later than 4 PM on August 26th. We advise you to spend the previous night in the U.S. (with friends, relatives etc.) so that you might have some margin for late planes and arrive here as well rested as you can.

What happens during the International Orientation and how important is it that I attend?

It is essential that you attend the International Orientation, so that we can help you prepare for all the changes represented by your first year of college in the US. The orientation will include learning about visas and legal requirements, learning about Social Security numbers so that you can work on campus, understanding our academic system and requirements, discussing intercultural relations and challenges, getting familiar with the campus, social events, and many other useful things. This will then prepare you to start the orientation for all new F&M students on the day after International Orientation ends.

Which are the most convenient airports to fly into that are in close proximity to Lancaster?

The easiest for you is probably to fly to Philadelphia International Airport, about 65 miles east of campus. If we have enough students arriving at about the same time, we will try to meet you, but this will depend on travel plans, which we will ascertain later, after you have sent us back the Travel Plans Form. Nearer to F&M are Harrisburg and Lancaster airports, but they may not be convenient or cost-effective to connect to. You can also consider Newark, New Jersey, which has a good train connection to Lancaster.

How do I get to F&M from the airport?

There are many Amtrak trains from Philadelphia, New York or Newark to Lancaster. And all the airports have a shuttle service from the airport to the train station. See . Also, there are bus services to Lancaster; we will send you information.

I-20 Forms

What is the purpose of the I-20 form?

The purpose of the I-20 form is to allow you to get an F-1 student visa to allow you to enter the US.

Be sure to sign your I-20 at the bottom, and ask your parent or guardian to do so also if you are under 18. Be sure to sign in English (Latin alphabet), no matter what writing system you sign in at home. Some of you may need to develop a new signature for use here; although there is no prohibition against signatures that cannot be connected to your name, they may cause practical problems here.

After that, make a photocopy and keep it in a separate place from the actual I-20, as the copy will help you in case the original is lost.

What will be shown as my date of graduation?

The I-20 will give May 20, 2018, as your expected date of completion. You can graduate earlier than that if you have credit for advanced high school degree or university work or if you accelerate by taking extra courses or summer courses.

If for whatever reason you turn out to graduate later than the date on the I-20, we need to extend your program before the completion date on the I-20 is reached.

What will be shown as my major and name?

The I-20 form will normally show your major as "Liberal Arts," because naturally you have not yet declared a major. 

We must put your family name and first name (not middle name) exactly as they appear in your passport; please be sure we have the proper form of your name and correct country of birth. If your passport and I-20 show different names in any way, there will be lasting complications.

How will I receive my I-20 form?

We send I-20s in non-institutional envelopes, as we have occasionally had a problem with forms disappearing in transit. Normally, regular airmail suffices unless it's later than June. If for some special reason you are in a great hurry to receive your I-20 form and wish it sent by FedEx courier service, you must send us a credit card number to charge it to, including name of holder, card type and number, expiration date, and a telephone number in case of delivery problems. FedEx cannot be sent to a Post Office Box number, only to a street address.

What happens if I need to enter the U.S. before receiving the I-20 form?

Although this was possible in some cases in the past, it is no longer practical. If you enter as a tourist (with a B-2 visa or through visa waiver), you will need to leave again and reenter as an F-1 student before you can start studying.  Tourists aren't permitted to study full-time.

With your I-20 and visa, you can enter in F-1 status no more than 30 days before the beginning date on the I-20.

Getting and Using Your Visa

What information will I need?

With your I-20 or by email, we will send extensive advice about getting your visa.

Where do I apply for my visa?

In order to obtain a F-1 visa, you must take your I-20 Form along with other documents to a U.S. consulate or embassy, preferably in your country of citizenship or permanent residency. It is slower and more difficult to get a U.S. visa in a country to which you have no legal connection. In some countries (e.g., in Pakistan) it is possible to apply for the F-1 visa through travel agencies; but some students have reported difficulties in getting a visa that way.

What documents do I need to get my visa?

Most importantly, you need a valid passport. Normally it should be valid at least six months after your expected date of arrival in the U.S. and also six months into the future at all times. You will also need the report of your standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL if applicable). Also, a transcript or report with your high school grades for the past year or two. Some consulates may ask for educational certificates.

Check with the embassy or consulate for details; some important items include:

  • Endorsed Ability to Pay form and supporting documentation
  • Items showing financial support (e.g., family's bank pass book, income tax returns, evidence of salaries, or real estate).
  • Award letter from F&M Student Aid Office (if have financial aid)
  • Completed non-immigrant visa application forms.
  • Photographs (see specifications on your consulate?s Web site).
  • Pay the visa fee.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee.

What if I already have a US visa, or do not need one?

If you have an F-1 visa because you have been attending high school or another college in the US, you don't need a new visa yet, unless a) you will be out of the US before next fall and b) your old visa will expire before your date of reentry.

If you do not need a visa but will be outside the US over the summer, take both your old and your new I-20 forms and your letters of admission and financial aid from F&M with you, in case you are questioned on reentry into the US.

If you arrive on campus still holding a visa that does not have 'Franklin & Marshall' written on it, ask the office to process a transfer I-20 form then, or you will be out of status!

What are the procedures if I am a Canadian Citizen?

If you a Canadian citizen; you do not need a visa or even a passport, but you do need the I-20; you need to be admitted to the US in F-1 (not B-2 or other) status; and you need to received an I-94 marked F-1. Sometimes, without an F-1 visa, you may have trouble getting visas to visit other countries if needed while you are in the US. Therefore, you may wish to get a passport and F-1 visa anyhow, to avoid confusion.

Money Matters / F&M Costs

What essential facts do I need to know about spending money?

Expenses fall into two groups: fixed expenses ("needs") and optional ones ("wants"). You must travel to F&M and pay tuition, room, and board, but most other expenses are optional. You must eat, but you do not need to eat in restaurants or order pizza sent to your room. You must wear clothes, but you do not need Pierre Cardin. People who have trouble distinguishing between needs and wants usually suffer the consequences unless they are very wealthy.

Individuals have various attitudes toward money. Some see in it a symbol of personal power and prestige; some see it as permitting an endless array of material things; some spend it wildly and hope that before the bills are due "fate will provide"; others resent having anything to do with it. Understanding your own attitude may help you avoid problems in college and later.

Due to inflation, living expenses in the US are likely to increase by around 4% from year to year; F&M's fees will probably increase by at least the same percentage. Precise figures on all fees are given in other information sent you by the College.

What other financial information do I need?

Families should not transfer substantial funds or property to your name until after you get your student visa. Any large movement of resources may cause consular officers to become suspicious that you are just moving funds around that are not really yours.

Any payments to F&M must be made by check to the order of Franklin & Marshall College in U.S. $ and drawn on a U.S. bank. (This is not the same as "payable at a U.S. bank"; if in doubt, contact the Business Office.)

What are the costs of attending F&M?

For more detail, see Money Matters and the Budget Planner form.

Financial Aid

What is the basic information I need to know regarding Financial Aid?

If you have F&M financial aid, your award letter shows your expected cost and aid for your first year at College. If you enter F&M without financial aid, it is not possible to receive aid later; if you have a 'sponsor' who later withdraws support, or if your country does not permit you to export the funds that we expect you to pay, F&M cannot make up the difference, in the first or any other year. Your actual personal expenses will depend on your needs and spending patterns.

The following items are NOT taken into account in our financial aid calculations, although some of these are included in the figures on your I-20 form:

  • enrollment (matriculation) fee
  • new student enrollment fee
  • health services fee and health insurance
  • travel to and from F&M
  • expenses over breaks

How long is financial aid granted for?

Aid is granted for one year at a time only. It is normally renewed year by year if you remain a full-time student at F&M.  You can expect your annual Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to remain the same throughout your four years of study.

For how long am I eligible for financial aid?

F&M financial aid will support you for up to 8 semesters of college, including one semester spent elsewhere (outside of your home country) as Approved Off-Campus Study in the U.S. or abroad, including the College's exchange programs.

What if I wish to locate other sources of financial aid?

You should start with your own government and cultural organizations at home. While you should be aware that many ads for guides to 'thousands of unclaimed scholarships' are hoaxes, some guides are helpful. If you have access to the World Wide Web, you can consult a large array of databases and other advice for free at .

Courses & Registration

How do I register for courses?

You will be registering for courses over the summer and at New Student Orientation in August.  You will also have an opportunity to talk to an academic advisor over the summer and at Orientation.

Roommates and housing will be assigned later in the summer, based on the roommate preference form which you fill out.

Will I get credit for advanced work done before F&M?

If you have earned an International Baccalaureate, French baccalauréat, German Abitur, British A-level certificates, or certain other advanced high school degrees, or have taken college-level courses before F&M, you might be able to receive some credit for individual courses at F&M.

This type of credit can meet some graduation or major requirements; and any elective credit may speed up your graduation, if you wish, by counting toward the total of 32 required courses. Bring with you the most documentation you can (syllabi, reading lists, copies of diplomas, transcripts, etc.) concerning any prior work for which you hope to receive credit here.

If that documentation is not sufficient for our Registrar's Office and relevant departments to award credit, you may take "proficiency exams" in subjects (except foreign languages) in which you have done advanced work. If you wish such credit, you should request it right away at the beginning of classes this fall.

If you expect to receive such credit, be sure not to sign up for courses that would be duplicated. For example, if you expect to get credit for first-semester Chemistry, don't request CHM 111 (unless you want to forfeit the earlier credit and take that course anyhow for Pre-Healing Arts or other purposes).

If you have credits from a US or foreign college or university, you may also be able to receive F&M credit.

What is the requirement for obtaining credits?

If you wish for such credit, you should request it right away at the beginning of classes this fall. For the International Baccalaureate, the specific policy is: students who earn an IB diploma with a total score of 30 or higher are awarded 8 F&M course credits. They receive specific departmental credit for every subject taken at the Higher Level for which they received a score of 5 or higher.

What other advice can I get on course choices and academic life?

If because of advanced credit or another reason, you feel prepared to register for any course more advanced than those normally recommended to a freshmen, please write an e-mail to to accompany your course registration worksheet, explaining your background and interest in specific advanced work. The appropriate department chair will then review your admission file and determine the advisability of placement in an advanced course. You will also have a chance to change courses after arrival.

How can I satisfy the Language Studies requirement and the requirement for Non-Western Cultures?

If you live in a non-English-speaking country or culture, or if your high school classes have been largely conducted in a language other than English, you can petition to have the Language Studies requirements waived. In that case, you do not need to sign up for courses in those areas unless you wish to.

The Language Studies Requirement can also be satisfied by showing that you have studied a language other than English up to a certain level.

If you live in a non-Western country or culture, you may be able to waive the non-Western course requirement, if you wish.

You will have an opportunity to fill out the necessary form at International Student Orientation, before classes begin.

How can I seek advice in identifying my first semester course selections?

If you are an international student and need assistance, the best solution is to email

You may also wish to visit the International Student Services page.


Can I work on campus?

Most students earn money during the academic year by working on-campus. Financial aid from F&M usually includes a campus job. First-year students on financial aid generally work for up to 10 hours a week, earning the equivalent of about $1,900 per academic year.

Aided students have preference, but non-aided students can usually find jobs too.

You may need to use your earnings for essential expenses (like books) or in some cases as part of your tuition payment. The College pays you regularly by check.

How about summers?

In summer, many students find on-campus paid internships or full-time work, earning up to $3,200 or even more (but of course you can't save that much, because you have living expenses).

Can I work off-campus?

After 9 months as a college student, you may also be able to work on a limited basis off-campus, in the field of your major and in conjunction with an internship for credit course, whether in summer or during the academic year.

After graduation, you may wish to work in the U.S. for a year as "Optional Practical Training" related to your major.  We offer advisement on visa considerations and career advising including an effective network of alumni and major companies that often turns up job opportunities that students could never find on their own.

Medical Matters

What medical forms do I need to fill out?

Health forms (history, physical, immunization, TB risk assessment, and meningococcal vaccine information) can be found HERE. It is very important that you send back the completed forms and any required documents (with English translation, if necessary) no later than June 30th. Do NOT wait to bring these items with you.  You may email them to or fax them to 1 (717) 291-4277.

Both the physical examination and the specified immunizations are required. If there are required immunizations that you cannot get at home, tell F&M Health Services what the problem is and ask their advice as soon as you can. In some cases, you will be allowed to wait and to obtain the immunizations upon arrival at the College, but usually at your own expense (and all such services are expensive here).  Questions should be directed to .

Health Department recommendations regarding tuberculosis testing in the U.S. may differ from those in your country, and you may be asked to have additional testing when you arrive. A history of BCG vaccine does not affect the decision to test (this statement could be bolded). International students at risk of TB are encouraged to be tested on arrival. If you are a known reactor (history of a positive TB skin test) please provide a report of a recent chest X-ray.

For the financial side of health care, including the medical insurance requirement, see "Money Matters" and the Budget Planning Form (above).

Do I need to purchase Health Insurance?

Medical costs in the United States are extremely high. Over the summer you will receive an opportunity to sign up for a specific accident and sickness insurance policy offered to our students by an outside insurance company.

All students are required, for their own protection, to purchase this insurance, unless you have other applicable insurance. *Please note it is difficult to meet the criteria necessary to be exempted from having to purchase the College's health insurance.  However, the College will purchase the College-recommended insurance for all international students with temporary visas who receive financial aid from the College and whose home and parents are outside the United States. 

Communicating Further with F&M

Be sure to inform us well in advance of the precise day on which your mailing address will change, or important documents may never reach you in time. Don't tell us "June" but June 15th!

If you have questions, please contact relevant offices as follows:

  • Write any office by name at Franklin & Marshall College, Box 3003, Lancaster PA 17604-3003 USA.
  • Admission Office: phone (717) 291-3953, fax (717) 291-4389, e-mail .
  • Business Office: phone (717) 291-4213, fax (717) 291-4370, or e-mail .
  • Office of College House Administration: phone (717) 291-3989, email .
  • Financial Aid Office: phone (717) 291-3991, fax (717) 358-4462, or e-mail .
  • Housing and Roommate Questions): phone (717) 358-4438, or e-mail .
  • Office of International Students: phone (717) 291-3855, fax (717) 399-4420, e-mail .

Whenever you can, use electronic mail to communicate with us because it is instantaneous and economical. (But please do not attach files to e-mail; include all messages in the body of the e-mail.)

Also, on the Web, you can find a whole range of items put in by our departments at