Frequently Asked Questions

This page covers questions regarding admission and stay in Huntsville. For travel-related questions go to the Pre-Travel page. Many new students are tormented by some of these questions. First and foremost, admission and funding are issues which only departmental staff can answer accurately. Here, we only offer an opinion as to what the criteria may be. The ISO DOES NOT take responsibility for individual students receiving admission and/or assistantships and/or on-campus jobs.


What is the difference between on-campus jobs and assistantships?

On-campus jobs are openings provided by the university-associated departments that are either technical or non-technical in which a student is employed 20 hrs per week. You will be paid at an hourly rate. The employer determines the rates. This type of employment DOES NOT cover your tuition and insurance expenses. This only might cover your living expenses here.

On the other side assistantships are of two types. One is teaching (TAs) and the other is research (RAs). TAs are provided by the academic departments here based on the requirements of the department and the credentials of the applying student. On the other hand RAs are offered by the professors and the independent research groups associated with the university. The scales of pay are determined by the department or the research center. Unlike the on-campus jobs, assistantships DO cover the tuition and insurance expenses of the student.


What is the difference between Presidential Scholarship and Teaching/Research Assistantship?

A full-time Graduate Teaching Assistantship or Graduate Research Assistantship (20 hours/week) typically covers full tuition benefits, full (single person) insurance benefits, a stipend and the international student fee for those students on F-1 visas. Stipend rates vary from department to department. Students should check with specific departments or faculty members regarding the actual stipend amount available.

Presidential Scholarship amounts to 20% of the non-resident tuition fee and is renewable for 2 years provided the GPA of the student is 3.0 or more.


Questions about Graduate Admissions for International Students?

Please check the links Graduate Studies and International Students and Scholar's Office for questions related to graduate admissions for International Students.


What are the chances of myself getting some type of employment?

On-campus jobs, though competitive, are available to those who try hard. This will most probably cover your living expenses here. Once you come here you need to visit Career Services to apply for these jobs. We advise you to come here a bit early and look for options.

The decision about giving a TA is taken by the department. So please contact one of the student in UAH from your department to get an idea. Also while applying to UAH you would have filled an assistantship application. That is the only formality you need to complete. The department meets at the beginning of each semester to decide on TAs for that semester.

Getting a RA is dependent upon the availability of such positions with a professor or a research group. Contact the professors personally (say by email etc.) to know about any such positions. Sometimes there may be advertisements on department notice boards.

Please be advised that securing any of these funding options CANNOT be guaranteed by anybody at any time. It is primarily up to the student to try these options. ISO can only guide you regarding the formalities involved.


How much is the tuition fee?

According to Immigration rules, a graduate student must enroll in at least 9 credit hours per semester (3 courses/classes) to maintain F-1(student) visa. The non-resident tuition (assuming you aren't awarded any Teaching/Research assistantship) for 9 credit hours is roughly $8679 and it changes at the discretion of the university. Check Bursar's Office for latest amount.


Am I required to take any health insurance?

YES. It is MANDATORY to take health insurance upon your arrival at UAH. You will be taking a insurance policy sponsored by the university for which you need to pay around $323/semester's coverage. Click hereto know about insurance plans.


How much money will I need to meet my initial expenses and in what form should I bring it? (How much money should I bring?)

If you DO NOT have any assistantship(different from presidential scholarship) then you should get a amount covering Tuition fees + Insurance Fees. In addition, it is advised to bring about $1000 (NOT an actual figure) towards your apartment security deposit/rent and initial start-up expenditure.

You may bring the tuition fee in the form of Demand Draft (DD) drawn in favor of University of Alabama in Huntsville or Cash or Traveler's Checks based on your convenience.

You can deposit the money you bring here in the bank and you will be given temporary checks if you need.

If you have assistantship, it is sufficient to get about $1000 to cover initial expenses.


Where will I stay (initially)?

Just fill the Airport Pick-up Request form on the web page and we will take care about your pick-up from the airport and initial stay (ideally for 1 week).


Are there any on-campus housing provided by UAH?

Yes. On-campus housing is provided by UAH and you can contact University Housing to know more about it.


How to obtain an AL Driver’s License and determine eligibility?

F-1 students in status with a minimum of 160 days remaining on section 5 of the I-20 record are eligible to apply for an AL Driver’s License.

Students not eligible for a social security number should do the following:

1) Request a non-eligibility letter from the International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO).

2) This is done by dropping of a “student/scholar request form” available on our website and in the office and waiting for an email from an advisor that it may be picked it up in the UC 116.

3) The letter must be used within 30 days of the date written on the letter to visit the Social Security Administration (with the appropriate documents as listed on the bottom of the letter) to obtain a non-eligibility letter and then take that letter to AL Department of Public Safety (AL DPS).

4) If the dated letter goes beyond 30 days, it is no longer valid. The International Student and Scholar Office will issue one SSA verification letter per student so please plan accordingly.


If a student has a social security number and wants to apply for an AL Driver’s License:


Go directly to the AL DPS with valid I-20 (at least 160 days before expiration), I-94 card, Passport, Enrollment Verification, and a social security card, and apply for an AL Driver’s License.

For students with less than 160 days on their SEVIS I-20 please know that the ISSO is unauthorized to extend an I-20 for the purpose of renewing or obtaining an AL Driver’s License. If a student has applied for Optional Practical Training and wishes to renew his/her driver’s license, wait patiently until the EAD card has arrived. Though the I-20 will have the completion date of studies, students are able to renew with a valid EAD card (no copies or receipt notices are accepted by the ALDPS).

Any student who has an expiring driver’s license and would like to renew it but does not have 160 days on their I-20 please know that AL State Law does clarify that there is a 60 day grace period to drive in AL with an expired license. Students who have International Driver License should ask the AL DPS office for clarification of use of International Driver’s Licenses.


What are the "things to do" immediately after coming to UAH?

0) Go to Charger Central (UC 118) and get your SEVIS activated as a student of UAH.

1) Attend Student Orientation.

2) Meet International Student Advisor (get the letter to apply for SSN)

3) Apply for SSN

4) Meet your Program Advisor.

5) Open a Bank Account.

6) Register for courses.

7) Look for On-campus jobs (if you DONT have an assistantship).

8) Find a permanent accommodation as soon as possible, as we can provide temporary accommodation for a limited duration(approx. 1 week).

You can always ask your temporary room-mates for help.