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What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 student status that allows students to gain experience in their field of study by applying for off-campus work authorization. Students in F-1 status are eligible for 12 months of OPT per educational degree level. OPT may be granted and used before graduation (pre-completion OPT ) for part-time work during the school year or full time work during vacation periods.

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Do I as a parent or relative need a support letter to obtain a visa to visit my student on campus?

No. A support letter is not required by the U.S. Consulates for visitor visa applications. As a visitor to the United States, it is important for you to be aware of visa requirements. Citizens of certain countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program may come to the United States without a visa if certain conditions are met. Other visitors will need a nonimmigrant visa. We encourage you to visit the U.S.

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I am applying to one of Columbia's graduate schools. Who can I contact with questions?

If you are applying to one of Columbia University’s graduate programs, you can search the University admissions website by for the appropriate contact page. If you need to locate a program please search by school or department.

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What are the financial aid options for an international student?

Columbia does offer financial aid to international students (non-U.S. citizens). The Columbia Undergraduate Admissions reviews international students applying for admission with financial aid through a need-aware process, which means the chances of being admitted with funding are competitive. Those who seek financial aid must apply at the same time they apply to Columbia for admission. Students without U.S. citizenship or U.S.

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What does Columbia require to apply?

If you are applying to Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science as an undergraduate candidate, please read the Application Requirements.

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I want to study in the U.S. Where do I start?

Students interested in studying in the United States can start researching the process by using their secondary school’s resources (like a college or career office if one exists) or the nearest EducationUSA office. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers resources on the Study in the States website for further browsing.

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What do FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) mean?

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Under FERPA, when a student enters university in the U.S. at any age, all rights and responsibilities to privacy of educational records are transferred to the student. Educational records can include grades, financial aid records, disciplinary records, student account information, Dean’s Office files, and Residential Program files.

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Where can my son or daughter store personal belongings over the summer break?

While Columbia is unable to offer summer storage, there are several vendors in the area that students may use for a fee. Columbia has no affiliation with these companies, however more information can be found at Hudson and Manhattan Mini Storage. For other ideas on disposing of personal items, please read the Green Check Out tips.

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Does Columbia offer translation services for families? Is everything in English?

Most Columbia University publications and websites are available in English only. As our campus and the City of New York are global and multilingual environments, we provide translation services in emergency situations.
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How do I get paid for working on campus?

Once you secure an on-campus job, the hiring manager will provide you with required paperwork to complete and have processed by Columbia University’s Human Resources Department to be added to the University’s payroll. If you do not yet have a Social Security number (SSN), you will have to apply for one. Information is on the ISSO website about the forms you will be given to get on the university’s payroll and to apply for a SSN.

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