General Information

Going to University, especially in the US, is very exciting and also intimidating. We know you have plenty of questions and we are here to help guide you. Please take your time to review the information on this page and let us know what questions arise by emailing us at [email protected] 

On this page:

GVSU Allendale Kindsche Hall of Science

Visa Advice

When to apply:
You will be able to apply for your visa as soon as you have received your I-20, paid the required SEVIS fee at, AND the US Embassy in your country has opened for non-immigrant visa appointments.  Please check the US Embassy website in your country for details:

Issues applying on time:
Please email Chris Hendree [email protected]  for details on how to defer or apply for a future semester at GVSU.

Recommendations for the interview:
Be prepared to show that you are academically and financially a strong candidate to enter the US.  You must be able to convince the Visa Officer that your specific degree at GVSU will make a difference in your future in your home country. We believe that finances will be heavily scrutinized during this time.

Detailed process and advice can be found on the Visa Advice powerpoint on the Get Ready page


Booking Flights

We highly recommend new students fly into Grand Rapids airport: Gerald R. Ford International, code GRR. Flying into a larger airport such as Chicago or Detroit and then taking public transportation is not recommended for first-time travelers as US public transportation is not always convenient or easy to navigate.

The Grand Rapids airport is small with a helpful information desk, only 5 baggage carousels, and taxi services on-site. 


Airport Transportation Suggestions

Suggested Airport Transportation Options 
Students living on or off-campus should organize their own transportation using:

  • a local taxi company such as Metro Cab (616) 827-6500 or Yellow Cab (616) 459-4646  (cost varies, review cash and card options)
  • a transport app such as Uber or Lyft (cost varies - need to download in advance, review cash and card options)
  • A trusted local resource V's Anytime chauffeur service LLC, [email protected] 616-406-9664

Buses and trains are not an option from the Grand Rapids airport. Please be prepared by booking your transportation to your accommodation in advance or waiting for a taxi upon arrival.

Travel Advice

Keep all important documents with you at all times. This includes passport, I-20, flight itinerary, prescriptions, insurance cards, etc. Do not put these items in your checked bags. They should be with you in a carry-on item or on your person. 

If you are bringing any prescription drugs to the United States, you must bring an English translation of the prescription with them. Keep these with you in your carry on (not in your checked bag). In case prescriptions are needed while you are here your insurance carrier LewerMark will be able to assist with any questions about refills.

Let your family know it might take up to 24 hours after your planned arrival time to get in touch with them. Although this isn't the usually case, sometimes flights are delayed, phones are dropped in toilets, the wi-fi goes down and your communication plan is changed. Reassure yourself and your family that even if it takes longer than expected, you will be in touch as soon as you can be!

Traveling with Cash


GVSU On-Campus Housing
We encourage you, as an international student, to live on-campus at Grand Valley. Visit the Grand Valley Housing website to apply. When applying, use the transfer application to gain access to apartment style options which include kitchens. Students who apply as freshman are required to live in dorm-style units. Laker Village is strongly recommended since most international students live in this community, it is at the midway price point, and it is home to the International House. Students will need to provide a home address if possible. If the application will not accept your address, please use the Padnos International Center address: Padnos International Center,130 LOH Allendale, MI 49401.

Off-Campus Housing
If on-campus housing does not fit your needs, off campus housing is also available. In addition to the linked page, the ISS Team has put together this list of off-campus apartments near our Allendale, Health, and Grand Rapids/Pew Campuses:

Off-Campus Apartments

Please note, living off-campus requires students to be entirely responsible for their housing situation--we have limited ability to support students who choose off-campus housing.

Course Registration

Undergraduate students will be contacted by their academic advisor in May or June (for FALL) or November (for WINTER) to register for classes. Be sure you respond to emails in a timely manner, as it is important to have a set class schedule before arriving to Grand Valley.

Graduate students should contact their own academic advisor in May or June (for FALL) or November (for WINTER). All students should have their classes before International student orientation. There will be a chance during orientation to make last minute changes, but you should have a solid schedule by the time you arrive to Grand Valley.

GVSU no longer requires students, faculty or staff to be vaccinated. Due to federal regulations at health care organizations, students in health and health-related programs who have placements will still be required to receive the COVID vaccine or follow the exception process outlined on the health compliance website.    

Beginning with the Fall 2023 semester, all incoming first-year and new undergraduate transfer students will be asked to report their status for immunizations that offer increased protection from many vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks.  

  • The form is easy to fill out if students have a copy of their immunization record. More information can be found on the GVSU Health Hub website.
  • Questions related to student vaccine reporting can be sent to [email protected]
  • GVSU strongly recommends, but does not require, that students are up to date on the recommended Centers for Disease Control and American College Health Association vaccinations. If interested, upper-class and graduate students may also report their vaccination status.

Recommended vaccines are available at the Campus Health Center (Allendale), and theGVSU Family Health Center.   

Standard vaccinations are still recommended (Tuberculosis, Polio, Tetanus, MMR, Varicella, etc). 

Traveling with Cash

US Customs and Immigration requires anyone entering the USA with $10,000 USD cash or more to declare this money with Form FinCEN 105 when entering the country. If you intend to pay your tuition with cash, please instead consider sending the money via Western Union instead or bringing a demand draft. These are much safer methods. If you do not declare the money you are bringing with you, you may be fined and all the money may be seized (taken away permanently). 

Connect with Current Students

To connect with other international students at Grand Valley through ISS, we recommend you follow GViStudents on Instagram.

Take a look at our International and Domestic Student run Organization, 'Bringing Together the World' (BTW), to connect with GVSU students and other Internationals. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram. You should also visit Laker Link to find other student organizations you may be interested in joining.

Meal Plan

By purchasing a meal plan through the university, you are allowed a certain number of meals per week to be used at any on-campus dining locations. Meal plans may be purchased through the Laker Food Co. website. More information can also be found in the Understanding GVSU Meal Plans document.

Cell Phones

We recommend you purchase a pay-as-you-go plan upon arrival to Grand Valley. After you have applied for and received your Social Security number, you will be able to purchase a service contract for your cell phone if you wish. Cell phone carriers will be on campus and available to connect during the required International Student Orientation.

Health Insurance

All international students will be required to purchase health insurance starting in the Fall 2023 semester through LewerMark.


New International Students are required to pay the full balance of their Student Account by the payment deadline at 5:00pm EST; payment plans are possible the first semester should students seek this option. Log into MyBanner to view your student account. Please note that accounts are not billed tuition until after students have registered for courses.

Details on payment methods are on the Tuition page. 

Page last modified April 5, 2023