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=== Credit History & Credit Cards ===
 
=== Credit History & Credit Cards ===
  
Credit History is one the the most important yet least understood aspects of life in America. Unlike in India, where we are used to generally buying everything with cash, the feeling here is that it is "good" to be in some sort of debt. People generally buy things on credit with the intention of paying it off later.When they cannot pay one credit card off with available cash, they sometimes use another credit card to pay the first's bill.  
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Credit History is one the the most important yet least understood aspects of life in America. Unlike in India, where we are used to generally buying everything with cash, the feeling here is that it is "good" to be in some sort of debt. People generally buy things on credit with the intention of paying it off later.
  
All credit history is indexed with the help of the social security number (SSN). Most students can apply and receive one in the first six months if they have found a job on campus. As an international students, you do not have any credit records here in America and so many credit card companies are wary of giving you a line of credit without verifying your ability to pay back. When you make a request for a credit card or loan, your social security number is used to check the three major credit databases - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Any late payment of bills or defaulted payments will show up on your credit history for a period of 7 years from event. Using these records, the credit card company decides to give you a line of credit or not.
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All credit history is indexed with the help of the social security number (SSN). Only a person with a valid job is eligible for an SSN. International students with on-campus jobs are hence eligible for an  SSN.  
  
After you have received your social security number, you can apply for a Student Credit Card from the bank which holds your Checking and Savings accounts. To be cautious, some people go in for a secured credit card which basically holds funds in your bank accounts against your credit limit.
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International students do not have a credit history in the US. This means that the credit card issuing companies have no way to verify your ability to pay back a credit card bill. When you make a request for a credit card or loan, your social security number is used to check the three major credit databases, known as Credit Bureaus - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Any late payment of bills or defaulted payments will show up on your credit history for a period of 7 years from event. Using these records, the credit card company decides to give you a line of credit or not.
  
Paying your bills on time - utility, telephone, internet etc builds good credit history. Some people are of the opinion that it may be useful to your credit history to let some money roll around on your credit card so that you pay a small interest on it. This has not been verified. A good rule of thumb is pay your bills on time and don't spend more than you have !
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After you have received your social security number, you can apply for a Student Credit Card from the bank which holds your Checking and Savings accounts. Another method for building a credit history is to go in for a secured credit card which holds funds in your bank accounts against your credit limit. Such secured credit cards are relatively easy to obtain.
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Paying your bills on time - utility, telephone, internet, etc. builds good credit history. A good rule of thumb is pay your bills on time and don't spend more than you have !

Revision as of 05:18, 14 April 2006

H O M E
Preparing for the US
Before you leave
Packing your Bags
Traveling to the US
Arriving at NC State
Living at NC State
Finances
Academics
Questions?
Checklist
About
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Money to bring

How much money should you bring ?

This is another one of those questions that is impossible to answer in one line. A major component of the money you bring will be for the first semester fees. The college is fairly flexible about the deadline to pay your fees for the first semester but not for later semesters.

Generally, fees should be brought as a DD in dollars. Approximate fees per semester are $8500 (excluding student health insurance). Beyond that, students bring anything from $3000 to $10,000 (the official limit). Once again, while most students get jobs that will pay your rent, utilities and food, it is better to assume that you will not get a job and plan accordingly. The amount you bring along may generally include $300 in cash and rest of the amount in the form of travellers' cheques. Make sure to carry handful of quarters (25 cent coins) to be able to make phone calls from airports during your journey, should the need arise. Though there's no hard and fast rule for the denomination of the cash, it is better to have it in the form of $10, $20 and $100 bills proportionally. You may require to pay for the trolleys at the airports and it costs around $3 for a trolley. So plan to carry your changes accordingly well in advance so that you don't have to ask for some on airport as for the people who will be on their first ever air travel will be kind o fnervous and hence apprehensive about talking to people at the airport. In case if a need arises, make sure to talk to officials (policemen, airline authorities, airport authorities etc.) and not to strangers.

Do not forget to enter the amount you are carrying in the form of cash and travellers cheques on your I-94 that will be provided to you in your flight to the first port of entry into US (the first place in US where you will be landing. Generally, these include Ney York, Newark, Philadelphia, Cincinnatti, Los Angeles, San Francisco etc. For example, if your flight is Mumbai-Frankfurt-Philadelphia-Raleigh, then your first port of entry is Philadelphia). The amount on your DD need not be entered onto this form at all.

Student Health Insurance is to be paid separately on annual or semi-annual basis. Semi-annual insurance costs around $645 whereas the annual version amounts to $1200. The choice is individual but most of the students prefer the semi-annual insurance.

General Expenses

These are monthly expenses and if you have planned to share an apartment with n number of people, then divide the given amount by n to get your approximate share. For example, an apartment rent of $575, that is shared by 4 people will cost you $143.75 per head per month.

The primary expenses cover the following:

  • Apartment rent: minimum of $500 to maximum of $700 depending on the place of your living
  • Water Bill: approximately $20 per month (sometimes included in the rent)
    • Make sure that your apartment is not experiencing a water leakage. Otherwise, the water bill may shoot up within no time and can go as high as $300 per month.
    • Check your water outlets and make sure that all taps are tightly closed when you are outside your house in lectures, labs, vacations, parties etc. i.e. leaving apartment for a longer duration.
  • Electricity Bill: approximately $50-$80 per month on avg. May shoot up in winters when heaters are on. It can go up to max. $160.
    • Make sure that all lights and electronic equipments are switched off before leaving your apartment for a longer duration that normal as explained in case of water saving.
  • Food(Groceries): These expenses may vary depending upon your lifestyle, but you can expect them to be apparoximately $200-$320 per month for 4 people leaving together (Total!!NOT a per head cost!!).
  • Commuting: No expenses. FREE. See Transportation section for details on travelling expenses.
  • Telephone bill: If you have a landline connection, then depending upon your service provider and the plan that you have gone for, the monthly bill can be expected to be around $45-$50(not per head, but total). If you have opted for a cell-phone though, the same amount may be counted on per head basis.


Major service providers for landline telephone connections in Raleigh are:

  • BellSouth

Major cellphone connection providers are:

  • Verizon
  • Cingular
  • Sprint

So in all, the total expenses that one might generally have per month would be about $280-$350 per month. If you manage to get a decent on-campus job, you can easily earn much more than $300 per month, and that's why it would be great to find that job to pay off your living expenses.

Financial Aid

"Will I get Financial Aid or not ?", is probably one of the most asked questions of new students. This is a question, no student here can confidently answer except rattle off a bunch of depressing sounding statistics.

The fact remains that chances of getting financial aid here are slim, so don't count on it. In certain programs, financial aid seems to flow more freely but this trend hardly ever continues for more than a year.

Generally the aid scene is pretty good in departments like Industrial Engg, Civil Engg., Mech. Engg., IMSE compared to Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Computer Science (CSC) and Computer Networking (CNC). However, this does not mean that there is no opportunity for aid. A brief, superficial algorithm for obtaining an aid can be stated as follows:

  • After landing here, mail a professor whose research interests fascinate you the most/match with those of yours. Mention about your educational background, basic qualifications, work experience (if any), interests etc. Attach a resume with this mail.
  • Be sure that you state the particualr project/research of that professor in which you are most interested. Let them know that you have gone through their research group postings or general information on web. Most of the professors who are ready to fund MS students (and not only PhD students) require you to take an independent study under him/her and/or his/her course. You are expected to perform exceptionally well in both independent study as well as course.
  • Once you have been called to talk personally by that professor, make sure that you are confident in answering whatever he/she asks and do not think that you will work for him/her and then will ask him/her for funding. Be sure to make a point that on completion of your independent study you do expect funds from him/her for your future research and coursework.
  • If at the end of such study you do not get any funds, go to step 1 and repeat.

If you have been awarded an aid before you come here, the university will be communicating with you regarding your stipend, duties, rights & responsibilities and every necessary information you require.However, general things to be known include the facts that

  • RA ship is awarded by professor himself/herself mostly out of his/her own pocket and hence for that you really need to prove your mettle to them.
  • RA stipend ranges from $670(quarter pay) to $1500(half pay) per month along with a full or partial tution waiver. RA stipend may be decided by the professor and hence may vary a lot, depending on the available funds. Usually a full RA is given a full tution waiver and $1350 - $1500 stipend (ECE & CS depts).
  • TA ship includes a monthly stipend of $1250-$1400 per month along with a full tution waiver. TA stipend is paid by the department and is $1350 for CS & ECE departments.
  • Both of these forms of aid cover your student health insurance as well.

Part-Time Jobs on Campus

You (or for that matter any international student on F-1 student visa status) are allowed to work on-campus for maximum of 20 hours per week for first 9 months of your visa status. Such jobs are especially useful for people who are not aided by the program in any way. The purpose of such jobs is to cover your monthly expenses (not your fees!) that have already been mentioned above.

The pay rate for these jobs ranges from $6-$8 per hour ($10-$15 per hour in highly exceptional and rare cases) and you can certainly save approximately $50 odd per month on an average through these jobs if you get to work for full 20 hours. The job opportunities arise at university dining, residense halls, computing and other laboratories, Carmichael Gymnacium, Case Athletics Center, Talley Students' Center etc.

The phrase on-campus job is apparently misleading. The point to be noted is this phrase covers all those who work on campus and have been listed on univeristy payroll. Anyone who works beyond this classification is eligible to attract legal action (deportation back to home country).

While doing a summer internship or a co-op this restriction no longer holds and your Curricular Practical Training (CPT) period is what that comes into picture for which you need not worry about at all at this point of time.

Banking

See here for how this works

Credit History & Credit Cards

Credit History is one the the most important yet least understood aspects of life in America. Unlike in India, where we are used to generally buying everything with cash, the feeling here is that it is "good" to be in some sort of debt. People generally buy things on credit with the intention of paying it off later.

All credit history is indexed with the help of the social security number (SSN). Only a person with a valid job is eligible for an SSN. International students with on-campus jobs are hence eligible for an SSN.

International students do not have a credit history in the US. This means that the credit card issuing companies have no way to verify your ability to pay back a credit card bill. When you make a request for a credit card or loan, your social security number is used to check the three major credit databases, known as Credit Bureaus - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Any late payment of bills or defaulted payments will show up on your credit history for a period of 7 years from event. Using these records, the credit card company decides to give you a line of credit or not.

After you have received your social security number, you can apply for a Student Credit Card from the bank which holds your Checking and Savings accounts. Another method for building a credit history is to go in for a secured credit card which holds funds in your bank accounts against your credit limit. Such secured credit cards are relatively easy to obtain.

Paying your bills on time - utility, telephone, internet, etc. builds good credit history. A good rule of thumb is pay your bills on time and don't spend more than you have !

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