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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply after the deadline?

Applications received within 2 weeks to the start of classes will be processed for the next semester. So, if you are applying for the fall term but your application is submitted within 2 weeks to the start of classes; your application will be processed for the Spring semester. If your application for the Spring semester is submitted within 2 weeks to the start of classes; your application will be processed for the Fall term. 

Can I get a job while I’m in college?

Yes, you may work up to 20 hours per week in a student services job on campus, while school is in session. You may work full time for a student services job on campus during school breaks.

To find out about job openings, please contact the Financial Aid Office at 1-712-362-7920.

International students are not authorized to work off campus. If you feel you must work off campus you must first contact the Iowa Lakes International Students Coordinator.

Can I get financial aid?

F1 international students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

International students are welcome to apply for scholarships through our online scholarship application. For the application, go, here: https://iowalakes.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/CMXAdmin/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=428 

Can I take online classes?

Yes, you may take online classes over the summer because it is not a mandatory term.

Yes, you may only take one online class during the Fall and Spring semester. For more information, you may contact the Iowa Lakes International Students Coordinator in the admissions office.

Can I transfer to Iowa Lakes if I’m out of status?

No, Iowa Lakes does not accept students who have an out of status SEVIS record.

Can international students get a driver’s license?

Yes, you may obtain an Iowa Driver’s license/ID provided you demonstrate the following:

  1. Present acceptable proof of identity and residency. The Iowa DOT will not issue a DL or ID if your immigration document shows your remaining status time is less than 30 days.
  2. Not be canceled, suspended or revoked in any state.
  3. Provide proof of Social Security Number (SSN). If you are a temporary foreign national not authorized for employment, you do not have to document a SSN, but the Iowa DOT will verify your USCIS number. Make sure you are not authorized for employment. If you are eligible for employment but do not have a SSN, you are required to obtain and present one. 
  4. The Iowa DOT will electronically verify your name, date of birth and SSN with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Make sure your document is up to date and accurate to avoid delay. If you need to correct or update information at the SSA, do so several days before you apply for a DL or ID card. For information on how to do this, visit www.ssa.gov. Your SSN will not be listed on your DL or ID. The Iowa DOT will assign you a unique DL or ID number.
  5. Pass a vision test.
  6. Pass all applicable written and practical driving test(s).
  7. Pay applicable fees.

Retrieved [6/26/2018] from: https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/new-iowa-residents

Can international students get a social security number(SSN)?

Yes, you can get a social security number once you’ve provided the Social Security Administration can verify the following items:

  1. Your current passport
  2. Your current I-20
  3. A letter from your designated school official which includes the following:
    a.  identifies you
    b.  confirms your current school status 
    c.  type of work you’ll be doing
    d.  employer
    e.  employment start date
    f.  hours you’ll be working

Retrieved [6/26/2018] from: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10181.pdf 

Do I need health insurance?

All students in F1 status are required to carry health insurance that includes repatriation of remains. Iowa Lakes purchases this insurance for you and adds the charge to your college bill.

You may have this insurance replaced if you have your own insurance. Before we may cancel it, we will need a copy of your active policy that clearly includes repatriation of remains.

Do I need a TOEFL score even if I’ve taken other tests such as the IELTS?

The TOEFL may be waived under the following conditions:

  • Students who completed formal English studies and tested into college level English.
  • Students who graduate from an English instruction high school equivalency program in the US.
  • Students who graduated with an English instruction only high school at other countries if they score at the college English level in the SAT or ACT. 
  • Students from English speaking countries 
  • Students transferring in from an American college if they have taken English Comp 1 and received a grade of ‘C’ or better, and have a Cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better.
  • May be waived if the student has a master’s degree from an American university. 

Does Iowa Lakes have student dorms/housing?

Yes, Iowa Lakes has student dorms/on campus housing at the Emmetsburg, Estherville, and Spencer campuses. For more information about housing options click here and select the appropriate campus on the left. https://www.iowalakes.edu/student-services/housing-dining-services-on-campus/ 

How long can I stay in the U.S.?

You are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the “duration of status”, which means as long as you maintain a good SEVIS status. Your SEVIS status expires 60 days after your program end date, which is listed on your I-20.

If you qualify and get approved for OPT (optional practical training) your program end date and thus your length of stay will be extended until 60 days after your OPT period is complete. 

How will I pay for non-school things?

Most local businesses will accept credit cards. Make sure to let your bank know that you will be living in Iowa to avoid fraud alerts that could result them freezing your account.

You can always pay in cash with US Dollars.

Payment Plan

Iowa Lakes has a payment plan that allows students to pay their tuition in installments. If you are interested in signing up for this plan, please see your campus cashier or sign up online through WebAdvisor in the “Self Service Manage Your Account”.

What documents do I need to travel within the U.S.?

To travel within the U.S., you will need your valid passport and I-20.

What documents will I need to travel in and out of the U.S.? 

  1. Valid passport with valid F or M visa (if applicable)
  2. Signed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status”
    * The second page of your I-20 must be signed each year by a DSO at your college.
  3. Proof of financial support
  4. Designated School Official’s contact information
  5. Iowa Lakes Acceptance Letter
  6. SEVIS fee payment receipt

What if my visa expires?

When your visa expires you will need to obtain a new one when you leave the states if you wish to return. You do not need to obtain a new one while in the states. Your length of stay is for the duration of status. (see ‘length of stay’ for more info.)

What is the weather like?

Iowa has warm summer months and cold winter months. Plan to bring a range of clothing and remember to bring a warm winter coat, or plan to buy one. 

U.S. Climate Data – Northwest Iowa

The chart below shows the general temperatures experienced in Iowa throughout the calendar year. Average annual precipitation is 30.74 inches with the heaviest precipitation April-September and lighter precipitation October-March.

Month Average High (Celsius) Average Low (Celsius) Average High (Fahrenheit) Average Low (Fahrenheit)
January -4.1 -1.5 25 6
February -14.6 -11.8 29 11
March 5.2 -5.6 41 22
April 14.2 .8 58 33
May 21.1 7.7 70 46
June 26.3 13.6 79 56
July 28.1 15.7 83 60
August 26.6 14.2 80 58
September 22.9 8.9 73 48
October 15.8 2.4 60 36
November 5.9 -4.8 43 23
December -2.4 -12.2 28 10


For more information check out:  https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/estherville/iowa/united-states/usia0284/2018/1 

Will I need a bank account?

No you do not need a local bank account but you can get one if you wish. 

If you get a job on campus, you will need a U.S. bank account for direct deposit payments. Iowa Lakes does not pay new employees via check. Some banks will require a social security number. 

What if I move/change my address?  Do I need to inform anyone?

Yes, you need to let a DSO (designate school official) know your new address within 10 days. They in turn will update your SEVIS record for you.

What if my Visa gets denied at the interview?

If your Visa gets denied, you can still be a student by taking classes online from your home country.

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