Welcome to USD!
We are excited for you to join us on campus, and we are here to make sure you have everything you need to stay organized and informed as you complete the remaining steps to apply for a visa, register for classes, secure housing and more.
Follow the this checklist to ensure you are on track to begin your first semester at USD. If you have any questions, reach out to your admissions coordinator. We look forward to helping you along the way.
Visa Application Process
Tuition & Fees
Review tuition and fees estimates to ensure you know what costs will be associated with your education. Please note that certain programs have additional per credit hour discipline/course fees.
Financial Ability Form
You were admitted on your academic merit. In order for USD to issue you a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) all admitted students must show that they have the financial resources to pay for the full cost of attendance - including all living expenses.
Download, read and complete USD's Financial Ability Form to provide evidence of your financial ability. The form includes important details. Collect the required valid, official bank document(s). Email the documents to your USD admissions coordinator.
TIP: download and save before you close or you may lose the information you added.
Email the following financial documents to your USD enrollment coordinator:
- Completed and signed Financial Ability Form
- Official bank document, which must include:
- Account holder’s name
- Account number
- Available liquid funds
Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee after receipt of I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status
After your financial documents are received and approved, the International Office will send you a digital copy of your I-20 or a paper copy of the DS-2019.
- Important: You must bring a signed paper copy of your form to your visa interview.
- Visit Study in the States for more information.
Once you receive your form I-20 or DS-2019, you are ready to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. Information on your I-20/DS-2019 is needed to pay the fee. The fee is mandatory and must be paid before you apply for your student visa. Learn more about the fee and access the SEVIS I-901 Fee Processing website.
Schedule Visa Appointment
Visa applications and interviews are scheduled through your local US Embassy or Consulate. Visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs to locate the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to you.
Review the visa web pages for your local US embassy or consulate. There you will find instructions on how to complete the visa application, pay the visa fee and schedule an appointment.
- If you received an I-20 from USD, you will apply for an F-1 visa. If you received a DS-2019, you will apply for a J-1 visa. Both are nonimmigrant student visas.
- Canadian citizens need to pay the SEVIS fee before entering the US, but Canadians are not required to obtain an entry visa to enter the US.
Prepare and Practice for Visa Interview
All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of application:
- Valid passport
- Valid paper copy of your signed I-20 (for F-1 visas) or DS-2019 (for J-1 visas)
- Documented proof of financial support for at least one year
- Proof of SEVIS/I-901 fee payment (receipt)
- DS-160 visa application and visa application fee (available from the U.S. embassy/consulate)
- Any other documents required by the local embassy/consulate
Note: You may arrange a practice visa interview with a member of the International Office staff, if needed. Contact your admissions coordinator to request this service.
USD: Making it Official
Your USD Account
Shortly after receiving an offer of admission to USD, you will receive an email with information on how to access your USD account – including your USD email. You will need your USD student ID number (available on your acceptance letter) and your assigned USD email address (which will be email to you after admission). Once you pick up your account, you will have access to the myUSD portal, which includes technology you will use as a USD student.
Duo Security on Your USD Account
After you activate your USD account, it is important to protect it. Install Duo two-factor authentication on your USD account for another layer of online security to protect your personal information. Duo is mandatory for all USD students, faculty and staff.
Now that you're a Coyote, you can make your commitment to USD and choose your home here on campus. It's starting to feel real! As a reminder, South Dakota Board of Regents policy requires students to live on campus and enroll in a meal plan during the first two years immediately following graduation from high school/secondary school. Students living on campus pay a $100 deposit and then can proceed to the housing application. For more information and to begin the process, please click the big red button below!
Ready to commit to the #Yoteworld? Make the international student enrollment deposit today! All international students must pay a $300 enrollment deposit to secure their admission. This deposit is due by July 1 for fall admission and November 15 for spring admission. The deposit is an advance on your international student fee of $150/semester, and will be applied to your bill once you start classes. This is not an additional fee but rather a pre-payment of part of your I-20 cost. Students should note this is non-refundable if you chose not to enroll, so please only pay the fee once you are ready to confirm your attendance to USD.
Take the Registration Survey
Students will receive emails in early summer (fall intakes) and late fall (spring intakes) to complete a registration survey, a link to which will be provided at that time. The information you provide helps your academic advisor prepare your for a successful first semester!
Register for classes and view your class schedule in Registration self-Service
Either your academic advisor or your admissions coordinator will arrange a time for your advising appointment. The appointment will take place over Zoom.
Your academic advisor will guide you through the process of selecting your classes and getting registered using Registration Self-Service.
Transfer students: we recommend that you work with your academic advisor at your earliest convenience so that there is sufficient time to evaluate prior credits.
Understand placement exams
Placement exams ensure you are registered for the correct English, math and foreign language courses. Placement testing can be taken on campus after arrival or remotely before arrival. If you have SAT or ACT scores, we may be able to use your scores for placement. English proficiency exams scores cannot be used for placement purposes.
You academic advisor will provide more information.
After registering for classes, log in later to confirm that your schedule saved properly. Closer to the start of the semester, professor names and classroom locations will appear on your schedule. (TIP: always check your schedule right before the first day of class – sometimes there are last-minute classroom changes.) We also recommend that you download the USDgo app on Google Play or the App store. Your schedule, maps and lots of other good information can be accessed on the USDgo app.
You can buy or rent your textbooks online. Your books can be delivered to and picked up on campus after your arrival. Also, you may qualify for USD’s interest-free book advance program. For more information, please click here.
All students must submit their final official high school transcript to USD, and have two options to do so. First, your school counselor or principal may send your final official high school transcript to email@example.com after you graduate. This must come from an official school email address (name@nameofschool).
Second, you may mail/courier your final official transcript to: Enrollment Processing Center, 414 E Clark St, Vermillion, SD 57069. To be certified as official, transcripts must either be directly mailed to USD by the issuing institution or forwarded to USD by the student in a sealed, unopened envelope (do not open the envelope) from the issuing institution. There must also be a stamp or seal across the back of the envelope. Attested copies of transcripts will be accepted as long as they are sent in the official manner described here.
The deadline to receive official transcripts is July 1st. If the final, official transcript has not been received by this date, the I-20 will be canceled unless otherwise discussed with your admissions coordinator. If you have earned credits from a university outside of the US that you want to transfer to USD, an official WES or ECE evaluation must be submitted.
All students are required to provide medically signed proof of two properly administered MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunizations OR immune titers for measles (rubeola), rubella and mumps. The immunization form must be completed before the start of classes. If you are unable to secure and send proof of immunization, the required shots are available on arrival at Student Health (for a fee).
You will not be able to register for classes if you do not comply with the immunization policy. Meningococcal and Hepatitis B vaccines are also recommended. Visit Student Health Services to view immunization policies.
All F-1 and J-1 visa holders studying at USD purchase health insurance coverage that meets BOR Policy 3.14 requirements. The South Dakota Board of Regents has partnered with GeoBlue (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) to provide a quality, affordable health insurance plan. All F-1 and J-1 students must purchase a plan from GeoBlue unless they qualify for a health insurance policy waiver.
You will be required to provide proof of coverage to the International Office. If you do not provide proof of insurance, you will not be able to enroll in any South Dakota Board of Regents university. You must be covered by this insurance the entire time you are in the U.S. - even if you are not enrolled in classes during the summer, you are still required to be insured. A lapse in coverage will affect your eligibility for future coverage. If you have questions about health insurance and immunizations, contact your admissions coordinator.
Health insurance registration opens in July. The costs for health insurance are built into USD’s estimated cost of attendance, but insurance is not part of your USD bill. You will pay the insurance provider directly. Students who do not register by the deadline are automatically enrolled in the most extensive (and expensive) option.
If you take prescription medication on a regular basis, bring a sufficient supply. Your prescriptions are likely to be cheaper if renewed before leaving your home country. If you take prescription medication, you may have to claim your medications at customs. It is safest to travel with a list of all of your medications signed by a doctor as proof of legitimacy. If you depend on eyeglasses, it is a good idea to bring an extra pair and a copy of your eyeglasses prescription.
Beginning August 1, your bill will be available online at your SDePay account.
Bills are only available if you have already registered for classes.
All statements are sent electronically, and you will not receive a paper copy.
Visit USD’s SDePay webpage for full billing and payment information. You can directly access the SDePAY system on the myUSD Portal landing page.
Preparing for Arrival
What to Pack
Deciding what to bring with you can be a little overwhelming, so packing requires careful consideration. What you bring to the U.S. is largely a matter of personal choice. To simplify the process, create a list of everything you think you'll need, and then eliminate the items you can buy when you arrive. Remember, if you are traveling alone, you alone will have to manage all of your baggage.
You will have many opportunities to share your culture and to participate in cultural events. You may want to consider bringing:
- Traditional clothing
- Pictures, postcards or photo books
- Traditional music instruments
The required voltage for electrical appliances in the U.S. is 120 V (60 Hz). Hairdryers, chargers, kitchen appliances, etc. are affordable and easily acquired. If you bring any corded electrical items, check to see if a power adapter and converter is necessary.
What to Get Upon Arrival
Here is a list of common items that you will want to consider purchasing once you arrive. The list is not complete, but designed to help you think about what you will need to find and pay for upon arrival:
- Surge protector with extension cord - Power in the US is reliable and stable, but bad weather and other events make this a low-cost way to protect computers and TVs.
- First-aid kit - We recommend bandages, pain relievers and other basic care items.
- Cleaning items - what you need will vary by where you live and personal choices. A roll of paper towels or cleaning wipes is a good start.
- Sewing kit - Having scissors, string and a needle can come in handy when you least expect it.
- Slippers, shower shoes and bathrobe - These can add to the comfort of your room and make you feel more at home. If your residence hall or apartment does not have a private bathroom, you may appreciate one or more of these items.
- Hangers, storage boxes and shelves - You may want to budget for a few organizational items if you are living in a smaller, shared space.
- Tableware - Tableware and Kitchen Utensils - if you are living in a traditional residence hall, a cup, bowl, plate, knife, fork and spoon will come in handy. For those moving into apartments, you can choose to buy new or to get gently used items at thrift stores.
- USB drive - Keep one with you, just in case you need to do work in a library or a university computer center.
Documents to Carry In Hand While Traveling
- Passport with student visa
- Signed paper copy of form I-20 or DS-2019
- Admission letter
- Original financial documents
- SEVIS I-901 payment receipt
- Prescription medicines and original prescription for those medicines
- Major credit card (if available)
- US dollars (for items in transit, especially if you do not have a credit card or a US bank account)
- Contact list with important numbers (do not rely only on your phone in case it gets lost, loses power, or fails to work in the US)
Visit the US Customs and Border Protection website for details about what to expect when entering the US.
United States banks offer many different financial services for students. It is recommended that all new students and scholars open an account at a local bank soon after arriving in Vermilion. To open an account, one must present two forms of identification, such as a passport and a USD student I.D. Some banks may require a Social Security number. Banking information is also shared at Orientation.
The Gallagher International Center provides free shuttle service to Vermillion from the Sioux Falls, SD airport only. We highly recommend you only book your arrival during the period the shuttle is running. This is a limited shuttle service available at the start and end of each semester. The deadline to register for the Fall 2023 shuttle is August 1. Shuttle service is available August 13-16 for new students. New students are required to attend orientation on August 17th and should plan accordingly. We will have several pickups throughout the day, but be prepared to wait for the USD shuttle. After you have made your airline reservations, complete the airport shuttle sign-up here.
If you will arrive the day before a scheduled pick-up, you can stay in a hotel overnight and the GIC will pick you up the next day as long as you fill out the airport shuttle registration form. Please note that students arriving on days other than those listed above will need to make alternate arrangements for their transportation to Vermillion.
Flight Delays or Late Arrivals
If your flight is delayed or canceled, you may miss the last pick up of the day, in which case you will need to stay in a hotel. While several hotels close to the airport have free shuttles to/from the airport (such as the Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express), we recommend the Aerostay Hotel. It is connected to the Sioux Falls airport by walkway and is a very convenient option. Their website is: https://aerostay.com/.
Alternative Arrival Assistance
If you are arriving at an airport other than Sioux Falls and/or are arriving on a date on which we do not offer a pickup, there are several alternatives available to you.
- Jefferson Bus Lines stops in Vermillion daily on its way to and from Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sioux City, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Omaha, Nebraska. The number of daily departures and cost varies. To book tickets on Jefferson Lines, visit the Jefferson Lines website. Students will need to take a cab, Lyft or Uber from the airport to the bus terminal in Sioux Falls. The bus stops in at the Vermillion McDonald's, which is across the street from campus.
- Students can also take a cab or ride share from the airport to Vermillion, though these can be costly – around $125.
- The commonly used Lyft or Uber rideshare services are available in and around Sioux Falls. If you know you will need a ride to the bus terminal or a Sioux Falls hotel, make sure to download and set up the Lyft or Uber app before arrival. You can use the free Wi-Fi in the Sioux Falls airport to request your Lyft or Uber.
International Student Orientation
August 17 & 18, 2023
IInternational Student Services coordinates a compulsory orientation for all new undergraduate and graduate international students. Orientation allows international students to become better acquainted with USD, the International Office, as well as other international students.
Topics covered at Orientation:
- Visa/immigration regulations
- Academic resources
- Health Insurance
- Adjusting to new educational system and culture
Orientation is mandatory. Students are advised to carefully plan their travel so that they arrive in Vermillion on or before August 16.
Departments & Facilities
The Gallagher International Center oversees the university's international affairs, including programs and resources such as study abroad, international admissions and international student services.