Visa Eligibility, Funding Amounts and Program Start Dates

Visa Eligibility

Most international students require an F-1 visa/I-20 document to study in the US.   The Graduate Admissions office issues I-20 documents to new students in compliance with federal immigration regulations which require the following:

  • Student must meet or exceed the University's minimum standard for English Proficiency.   (see our ESL page for more information.)
  • Program curriculum must be full-time and primarily in-person instruction.   Students cannot receive an I-20 for completely or primarily online/distance learning programs or for part-time programs.
  • Student must have adequate funding to cover tuition, fees and living expenses for their first year of study.   (see below)

Funding Information

International students must have adequate funding to cover their first year of living and educational expenses.  Funding sources may include University assistantships, scholarships/fellowships, personal savings, family, employer or government scholarship, or other sources.   (Documentary evidence of all funding sources is typically required during the visa application process.)

The chart below shows the minimum amount of funding a student will need to show in order to get an I-20 for the 2018-19 academic year.  These figures are an estimate that includes room and board, books and supplies, student fees, health insurance and (if applicable) tuition at the standard graduate rate for 6-14 credits.    Please note that figures will vary for students in programs with differing tuition rates.



Twin Cities and Rochester


50% Assistant $18,841 $15,887
25% Assistant $28,882 $25,869
No Assistantship $46,583 $43,629

As always, your graduate program can set whatever assistantship or fellowship stipends you wish. We are simply informing you of these amounts in case you want to set your stipends accordingly. For example, if your graduate program is able to offer a funding package of at least $18,841 to a 50% graduate assistant, that student will not have to show any additional funding in order to get an I-20 . This might make for a more attractive award.  Again though, your program can offer any stipend amount – either less or more than the amounts listed above.

Please contact the admissions office with any questions about the I-20 process or calculating expense estimates for international students. 

Program Start Dates

The I-20 program start date is the date by which a new international student must enter the US.  In general, the start date is the first day of the term.  However, graduate assistants must be physically present in the US in order to receive pay, therefore their start date is earlier to accommodate the University's appointment term dates for GAs.    New students may enter the US up to 30 days prior to their program start date. 

Program Start Date

Earliest Admission Date (30 days prior to program start date)

Students with Assistantship 08-22-2018 07-23-2018
Students without Assistantship 09-04-2018 08-05-2018
Students with Assistantship 08-15-2018 07-16-2018
Students without Assistantship 08-27-2018 07-28-2018

We cannot change start dates to allow students to arrive earlier in the summer; however a student may receive permission to arrive late in certain circumstances.   Late arrivals require authorization by the Graduate Admissions Office and/or ISSS.  To request a late arrival please contact Jim Rowan ( or Suzan Koroglu (