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Frequently Asked Questions for International Families

It is recognized that international families may face additional challenges when sending their student to Purdue University. The below information is to help navigate many of the new experiences that may come with sending your student oversees. In addition to the resources listed below, additional resources are available to students through the International Students & Scholars website. Please visit the International Students & Scholars website for the most up-to-date information.


What is FERPA and what does it mean regarding access to my student’s grades? 

Purdue University complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, the federal law that protects the privacy of Education Records of students.  Please note this is a federal law.  As such, Education Records and Personally Identifiable Information will be released only with the signed consent of the student.  Please see the following webpage under the heading “FERPA and Parents’ Access to their Student’s Education Records” for more information.

What can my student expect in the classroom?

American classrooms can be very different than previous experiences of international students. Some instructors keep a more formal classroom setting as where other instructors allow a casual environment. American students often dress casually and may bring drinks or snacks to class. Students are often expected to contribute in the classroom setting and can often be evaluated on their participation in class. It is not disrespectful to question or engage your instructor, but rather it can be considered a sign of interest and original thought. The best thing a student can do is observe their setting and adapt to the degree in which your student feels comfortable. It is important for students to familiarize themselves with the Academic Integrity guidelines at Purdue. All forms of cheating, plagiarism, and fraud are taken seriously by Purdue University. If your student has questions about what constitutes academic misconduct, encourage your student to speak with professors, teaching assistants, or the staff at the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

How does my student maintain full-time enrollment?

F-1 and J-1 undergraduate students need to complete a minimum of 12 credit or research hours every fall and spring semester. No more than 3 credit hours of “online” or digital delivery coursework may count towards the minimum full-time enrollment during any semester. On average, students take 12 to 18 credit hours per semester. If your student has questions about their enrollment status or to see the most up-to-date regulations, please visit the International Student & Scholars website

How can my student improve English skills?

ENGL 10600 is the standard composition course for first-year students. It is recognized that non-native English speakers may struggle with this course therefore some sections of English 106 that have been designed carefully to meet the unique cultural and linguistically needs of second-language writers. Students can speak with their Academic Advisor about getting into these sections of English 106. 

The Purdue Writing Lab hosts one-on-one consultations to help students review papers and obtain feedback on various writing assignments. Students can schedule an appointment to meet with a tutor. 

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offer many resources to help students navigate everything from grammar to citing sources. The OWL also has resources specifically for those who have learned English as a second language


Where can my student find scholarship information?

Due to a citizenship requirement, international student often do not qualify for a large number of scholarship or grant opportunities. However, there are still opportunities out there for international student to receive aid money. Students should note that any aid received is taxable by Internal Revenue Service and students will need to file a tax return.

What is the best way to make a tuition payment?

The Office of the Bursar oversees tuition payments and offers multiple avenues to pay tuition. Purdue partners with Western Union Business Solutions for wire transfers, but students can also pay tuition through several other avenues. To see a list of payment options, please visit the Office of the Bursar’s website. Please note, Purdue is not a financial institution and payments to the University should be made in the amount due. Overpayment may result in the excess funds being applies to upcoming semesters or the payment will be returned to the sender.


What is HIPAA and what does it mean regarding access to my student’s medical records?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) rules create a framework to protect the privacy and security of patience and health plan member health information.  Purdue University supports the goals of HIPAA and documents its commitment to comply with these laws in its Compliance with HIPAA Privacy Regulations policy.  Medical records are kept for 7 years, and may be retrieved through the Health Information Management department.  To obtain medical records, a valid authorization must be completed and signed by the patient if over 18, or parent/guardian if under 18.  Health Information Management will process the request and provide records to the authorized party within 30 days. Students may complete the authorization form at: 

What are the immunization requirements for students?

Indiana state law requires all new, regularly enrolled students attending residential campuses of Indiana public universities be immunized against Rubella (10-day measles), Rubella (German measles), Mumps, Meningitis, Diphtheria, and Tetanus.  This law requires the university to block the enrollment of any student who does not comply with immunization requirements.  If your record is held for immunization noncompliance, registration for future courses cannot be completed until all requirements have been met.

All incoming students MUST complete the immunization information form located under the forms tab in the Patient Portal.  If you are not able to access the portal immediately, please check back during the first week of classes.  Indiana law does not require a physician to confirm dates of immunizations – you may self-report your immunization dates within the Patient Portal. 

Please see the PUSH webpage on Immunizations for more information about the immunizations and the exemption policy.

What are the health insurance requirements for international students?

As an international student, purchasing health insurance is a mandatory condition of enrollment for international students at Purdue University.  This requirement is in effect for the duration of your studies at Purdue. Failure to purchase insurance will result in a hold on your academic record, advisor notification of non-compliance, and a late fee. Very limited waivers may be granted to international students – more information can be found here.

Please also visit the Frequently Asked Questions page regarding health insurance for international students


Should my student attend BGRi and BGR?

Boiler Gold Rush International (BGRi) is a supplemental orientation program designed to meet incoming international undergraduate students’ unique needs and concerns.  Taking place the week before Boiler Gold Rush, the four-day BGRi program is packed with information and tips to help new international students be successful at Purdue. 

Boiler Gold Rush (BGR) takes place the week before fall classes begin, and Purdue encourages all incoming students to take part.  Students will learn about campus traditions, Purdue culture, and University resources.  It’s also a great chance to learn how to be a successful Boilermaker.

Should family members attend the International Parent Welcome?

International Students and Scholars (ISS) puts on the International Parent Welcome for parents and guests of incoming international students while students attend BGRi.  Attendees will learn about Purdue University, the resources available, and meet many staff members who work to support students at Purdue. 

Coming to Purdue (for students)

What items does my student need to carry (bring) with them?  What items should they avoid carrying (bringing) with them?

Suggested items to carry (bring):

  • Original Documents:
    • Mark sheets/ Transcripts
    • I 20
    • Admission Letter
    • Sevis Receipt
    • Recommendation Letters
    • SAT/ACT/TOEFL score reports (the printed version is alright to carry as these are mostly online)
  • Medication:
    • any prescribed medication along with prescription information.
    • over the Counter along with list specifying name, use and dose

Suggested to purchase once in US/close to campus

  • Clothing -Don’t buy new winter wear from home country as it may not be suited to the weather
  • Bed Linen
  • Towels
  • Electronics: if purchasing new, wait until in US and know what is required
  • Toiletries
  • Stationary
  • Food: There are enough options are available in and around campus, even for vegetarians and storage in residences is limited

What is the weather like in West Lafayette, Indiana?

The state of Indiana, and city of West Lafayette, experiences all four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Your student will likely experience all of these seasons while on campus, and will need to be prepared. During the summer (May – September), temperatures average around 26.7⁰ Celsius (80⁰ Fahrenheit) during the day. In the winter months (December – March), the average high is 4.4⁰ C (40⁰ F) with the evenings averaging a low of -4⁰ C (24⁰ F).

What types of clothing does my student need for the Indiana climate?

Recommended winter clothing includes: snow boots, warm thick socks, a heavy winter coat (water proof recommended), water proof gloves, scarf, winter hat, ear muffs, and clothing that can be layered underneath a winter coat. In the midst of winter, wind chills can fall into the negative digits. 

Spring is an active season for thunderstorms as the weather changes from cold to warm.  A rain coat, rain boots, and umbrella are important items for students to have in the spring, along with long pants and long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, as well as short sleeve shirts for changing temperatures.  

Summers are hot, humid, and can be wet. High temperatures can reach 100 degrees, so cool clothing (shorts, t-shirts, sandals, etc.) are best in the summer, along with a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, and a light weight jacket or pull over for cool air conditioning indoors.

Fall tends to fluctuate between warm and cool, and mix of summer, spring, and winter items are appropriate for fall. Consider a lighter weight jacket for fall, such as a fleece zip up or pull over. 

What vegetarian options are available on campus for my student?

Purdue University dining courts and several retail dining operations label food items as vegan and vegetarian.  More information can be found on the dining website.

Many students share they find the most vegetarian options at Windsor Dining Court, where one serving station is solely dedicated to a vegetarian and vegan diet, however, vegetarian options can be found in any dining court.

I want to learn more about West Lafayette. Where can I learn more? 

The Lafayette - West Lafayette Visitor Bureau is a great resource to learn more about the West Lafayette community. Check out information on where to stay, events in the community, and more at


How does a student obtain a Social Security Number?

Social Security numbers (SSN) are generally assigned to people authorized to work in the U.S. Your student will need to obtain an F-1/J-1 Social Security Number Request Form from their employer and take it to ISS for signatures. Be sure your student also takes their I-20 or DS-2019, passport, visa, and job offer letter to Schleman Hall (SHCL), room 136. Please visit for the most up-to-date information. 

I am planning to visit the U.S. and need a tourist visa. How does my student obtain an invitation letter?

Invitation letters are not required to apply for a visitor visa to the United States (U.S.). A letter can be written by the student, in English, and addressed to the individual(s) they are inviting to the U.S. The letter should state the purpose of the visit, how long the visitor will stay in the U.S., and what accommodations the student will provide for guests. A copy of the student’s I-20 or DS-2019 and a certification of enrollment will also be required. Please contact International Students and Scholars (ISS) for assistance. ISS can be reached at or 765-494-5770. 

For commencement only, the Office of the Registrar will provide invitation letters.

I am planning to visit Purdue. What are my transportation options? 

The Purdue campus is accessible from the Indianapolis (IND) and Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) airports. The Purdue University Airport is less than one mile from campus and is available for private planes, but it does not currently serve commercial airlines. Shuttle services is available from both airports as well as options to rent a car, travel by train or bus. Specific information for each airport can be found on the Visitor’s Information page.

Other than International Students and Scholars (ISS), what are some resources specifically for international students?

Purdue University has five cultural centers on campus that help prepare students to thrive in a global environment. These cultural centers not only help to introduce students to new cultures, but also serve as a support system to students. The cultural centers include:

Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center

Black Cultural Center

Latino Cultural Center

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center

Native American Educational and Cultural Center

Purdue has over 900 student organizations on campus. Several student organizations help connect students culturally. To check out these student organizations please visit

What immigration documents are needed for my student?

Students who are accepted to an undergraduate degree program and who intend to travel to the U.S. on a student visa, or who transfer from another U.S. institution to Purdue in a non-immigrant student status, are issued a Form I-20 or Form DS 2019.  More information about important documents can be found here

Within three business days of submitting the enrollment deposit, students will receive an email from International Students and Scholars to complete the notification of intent (NOI) form online.  Students who apply for fall/summer admission will receive NOI information beginning around mid-February. 

Can my student obtain other forms of identification once in the U.S. to avoid carrying their passport?

International students may be interested in obtaining an Indiana driver’s license.  Please see the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles webpage, under the heading of “Residents with an Out-of-Country License” for more information.

If a student is not interested in driving in the U.S., but would prefer an Identification Card, please see the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles webpage regarding Identification Cards.

Who can my student contact with additional questions?

The International Student and Scholars (ISS) office helps students navigate visa and immigration issues, federal laws and regulations, and more. Visit the ISS website for more information about ISS programs and services. Additionally, the Office of the Dean of Students can assist your student with general questions about the campus and community.

As a parent, who can I contact with additional questions?

The Parent & Family Connections office works with parents and family members by providing information, resources, tools, and services. The office serves as a central point of contact and can help to navigate various situations your student may encounter. Please do not hesitate to contact our office at 765-496-0524 or

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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