To be issued a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status (I-20) or a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019), you must be admitted into a full-time program and provide a financial guarantee for educational expenses. The U.S. government requires schools to determine that individuals can meet expenses without resorting to unlawful employment or public funds.
Please refer to the appropriate financial guarantee requirements below. When you are applying for admission to a particular semester or are changing your degree level, please use the figures for that particular academic year.
Requirements for Fall 2014 - Spring 2015:
- Students at Penn State University Park, Great Valley Graduate Center, Hershey Medical School, and the Dickinson School of Law
- Students at Penn State Altoona, Berks, Erie or Penn State Harrisburg
- Students at Penn State Abington, Beaver, Brandywine, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Shenango, Wilkes-Barre, Worthington Scranton, York, or Commonwealth College
DISSA uses figures established by Penn State's Office of Student Aid- the same figures used for financial aid for students who are U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. DISSA uses living expenses based on twelve (12) months and tuition on rates for non-Pennsylvania residents. In addition, the University has a mandate that all international students have health insurance coverage.
In order to be issued an I-20/DS-2019, you must:
- Provide proof of finances for the first year to receive an I-20, or provide proof of financing for the length of the program for a DS-2019
- Provide information/documentation for how your educational expenses will be supported in all succeeding years at Penn State.
You may use proof of personal funds, family funds (this proof must be accompanied by a certification of financial support, which states the amount of financial support provided and the period of time the support will be provided), sponsorship from an agency (this proof must include official notification of your award), or financial support from Penn State or a combination of these as proof of financial support.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is acceptable as a financial guarantee?
Financial guarantee materials must be current within 6 months and show an amount sufficient to cover estimated annual expenses. The financial guarantee could be made up of documentation from various sources as listed below, but should be as concise as possible since they are being presented as active indications of commitment to provide for upcoming first year expenses for the student. Financial Guarantee materials can be:
- Bank Statements of bank letters in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Provide fund accounts in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Certificates of Deposits in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Stocks, bonds, or other equities (with the provision that the statement of value must be no more than one week old and we accept only 70% of the total amount) accompanied by a signed letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Salary letter from the sponsor's employer indicating the annual income and length of employment
- Terms of Offer of a graduate assistantship or fellowship accompanied by a copy of the letter which was provided with the terms of offer of the assistantship or fellowship
- A sponsorship letter from a corporation or larger business accompanied by a letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment signed by an officer of the organization and accompanied by a copy of the organization's annual report or at the very least copies of appropriate support information from the organization's annual report
- A bank statement for a family owned business accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsor's relationship to the business and to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- A sponsorship letter from a government entity, international organization, or other major sponsor detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the specific amounts of their sponsorship commitment
Please note: In the case of sponsorship by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident financial guarantee materials above must be accompanied by a notarized form I-134 Affidavit of Support.
Financial Guarantee materials cannot be:
- Real property (land, buildings)
- Personal property (jewelry, vehicles)
- Chartered Accountant Statements or other third party evaluations of funds
2. Do you have sample language for a Certification of Financial Support or Letter of Support?
Sponsors must clearly state in their own words the length and duration of the sponsorship.
In whatever form the affidavit is provided, it is important to note that the commitment should use specific rather than general language. For example, a support letter written by a parent which states "I will cover all of my son's expenses for five years" is too general, whereas one which says "I will provide my daughter $53,300 per year for each of four years to cover her school related expenses" is much more useful and clearly details the exact nature of the sponsorship.
In the case of graduate students, we cannot use the possibility of a future graduate assistantship as funding for the I-20 or DS-2019. Therefore, it's important to provide a financial guarantee for the first year as well as information on how future years will be funded.
Here is a sample for preferred language for the Certification of Financial Support:
This is to certify that I, (name of sponsor), will financially support (name of student), in the relationship of (relative, friend, son, daughter) for the period of (length of time) while he/she is enrolled at the Pennsylvania State University. I verify the amount of _____US Dollars is available to the student listed above while he/she studies at the Pennsylvania State University. I understand these expenses may include tuition, fees, living expenses, books/supplies, medical insurance expenses and dependent expenses. I certify that I will continue to support the student at the same level for the length of the student's program of study. Signature & Date
3. Why are DISSA financial guarantee requirements higher than those I found cited in other places on the Penn State website?
Most offices at Penn State build their estimates from a single set of figures provided by the Office of Student Aid. The reason the estimates differ between offices often has to do with the type and purpose of the estimates. The DISSA figures take into account that international students will pay out-of-state tuition and will be in the U.S. for 12 months. In addition, health insurance is mandatory for international students since most students who are U.S. citizens have other sources to cover health care costs.