FAQs - International Students
Below you'll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive from our international applicants as well as a glossary of terms commonly used in U.S. college admissions.
Does Messiah College have any student organizations for international students?
Yes, quite a few! The International Student Association/MuKappa aids international students, missionary kids (MKs) and third culture kids (TCKs) in making cultural adjustments and provides an ongoing network of encouragement, fellowship and understanding among its members. ISA/MuKappa also works at bringing world awareness to the College community and to the broader community outside of Messiah College. Other student organizations under the umbrella of the Multicultural Council include the African Student Union, Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, La Alianza Latina.
How diverse is the student body?
Messiah College students represent approximately 37 U.S. states and 28 countries. Our student body includes 2.4 percent international students and 10 percent students from underrepresented populations. As a Messiah student you will also live among students, faculty and staff from multiple Christian denominations, from urban, suburban and rural communities, from various political perspectives and from a range of family backgrounds.
Where do international students live?
Messiah College guarantees housing for students for four years during the academic year. All students are required to live on campus their first year unless living with family members. After the first year, students can apply to live off-campus. However, the vast majority of students of students live on campus all four years (not counting time spent studying abroad).
Does Messiah College provide counseling/advising for international students?
All students have a faculty advisor in their department of study from their first semester until graduation. Academic advising is available and required for all students. In addition, new students arriving from abroad for the fall semester enroll in a one-credit course designed to provide ongoing, in-depth orientation and cross-cultural adaptation to America.
Can I change my major of study?
Yes, you can change your major of study at any point. There are several factors students should consider before changing majors.
- Will it increase the number of semesters required to finish my degree?
- If a change will cause you to spend more than eight semesters (four years) at Messiah College, your financial aid may not be applied to your additional semesters.
- If you are on an F-1 student visa, you may have a limited number of semesters in which you can remain on your visa.
You should discuss any potential changes with your academic advisor, the international student programs office and the financial aid office.
Are there any majors for which international students are ineligible?
International students can choose any major offered at Messiah College. However, due to state regulations/external certification requirements and accreditation requirements relevant to some majors, we suggest that international students work directly with the academic department to determine if being a non-U.S. citizen will impact the completion of their program.
Does Messiah College offer financial aid to international students?
Yes. All students can qualify for academic merit-based scholarships, and many international students are awarded these scholarships based on their academic performance in high school/secondary school. Messiah College also offers need-based scholarships specifically for non-U.S. citizens who do not qualify for federal financial aid from the U.S. government. These scholarships are applicable for all four years (assuming satisfactory academic performance). International transfer students are also eligible for financial aid.
Can international students work on campus?
Yes. U.S. citizens, permanent residents and students on F-1 visas can apply to work in a variety of on-campus "work study" employment positions. If you have campus employment as part of your financial aid award package, Messiah will automatically assign you to a campus job prior to your arrival. (You may need to complete some additional paperwork prior to arrival or during orientation.) Students who do not have a campus employment component in their aid package may still apply for available campus positions. You are, of course, responsible for keeping your job through good performance.
Summer campus employment is not guaranteed, but international students may apply for these positions and many of our international students remain on campus to work during the summer months. Housing and meals are included for students employed during the summer. International students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Students are generally assigned 8-10 hours per week during the school year.
Note for F-1 students: On-campus work is actually the only legal employment option for students on an F-1 visa (with the exception of Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training, which are employment options directly related to your major available later in your college career and in the year following graduation). If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a visa or immigration status other than an F-1 visa, contact the Office of Admissions at email@example.com to learn about potential employment options.
I cannot afford to pay the full cost of a Messiah College education. Will my financial need hurt my chances of being admitted?
Your financial situation will not impact your chances of being admitted to Messiah. However, non-U.S. citizens must prove ability to pay the cost of educational and living expenses in order to obtain a Form 1-20, which is necessary to apply for an F-1 student visa.
How much aid do you give to international students?
Financial aid is awarded to non-U.S. citizens on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration both academic merit and financial need.
How do students cover the resulting financial gap of an award that does not meet their full need as demonstrated by the International Financial Form or FAFSA?
Many of our international students seek financial support or sponsorship from extended family, their home church or other groups willing to invest in their academic potential.
Does Messiah College give loans to international students?
No. Messiah College does not provide loans to any students as a form of financial aid. Students who receive loans as part of their aid package either qualify for loans from the U.S. government (students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents) or apply for private loans from financial institutions.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Non-U.S. citizens: Complete the International Financial Form as part of your application process. When you receive your acceptance letter, it will also include your financial aid award information.
U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents: After January 1 of the year in which you intend to enroll at Messiah, complete and submit the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can submit the FAFSA even if you haven't yet received your acceptance from Messiah College. Note that the FAFSA will likely be a required document for any U.S. college or university to which you apply. You will receive your financial aid award package separate from your acceptance letter.
Is there a separate application for merit-based scholarships?
No. All information required to determine your eligibility for merit-based scholarships is part of the application for admission.
I do not intend to apply for financial aid. Must I still submit Messiah College's Financial Aid Application or the International Financial Form?
International Financial Form: Non-U.S. citizens applying for an F-1 visa must submit the International Financial Form as part of the application process, even if they are fully able to fund their own education. This form is how you must demonstrate your ability to pay for your education.
FAFSA: U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not required to submit the FAFSA. Before deciding against submitting the FAFSA, keep in mind that eligibility for any federal aid (including Stafford Loans and ParentPLUS loans [links]) requires a FAFSA submission. FAFSA results may also qualify you for Messiah College need-based aid, even if you don't receive federal aid.
What supporting documents are required to be submitted with the International Financial Form?
The student/student's family, as well as anyone else committing to sponsor a student financially, must provide supporting documentation. These documents can be in the form of bank statements, an employment letter, tax documents or award notices. The name on the supporting document should match the name listed under Section 3 of the form. The student's name should also be clearly marked on the supporting document. All documents should include a date. Original and certified documents are a must!
What is Messiah College's policy on standardized testing?
The SAT I and ACT scores can qualify you for admission and impact your eligibility for scholarships. The TOEFL and IELTS can qualify you for admission but will not help you qualify for additional financial aid. Official test results must be submitted to Messiah College directly from the testing institution or verified by your school as part of an official transcript.
Do I have to submit the TOEFL?
The TOEFL is one of four exams which Messiah College will accept as part of the application process. You may submit your TOEFL exam results, or you may submit results from an SAT I, ACT or IELTS exam instead.
What is Messiah College's institution code for requesting official score reports from SAT, ACT and TOEFL?
If you choose to have the results submitted to Messiah College by the testing institution, you will need to supply the institution with Messiah College's unique code—SAT code: 2411; ACT code: 3630; TOEFL code: 2411.
I have taken IB, AP or A-Level courses. Can I get Messiah College credit for them?
IB Policy: Messiah College considers higher level International Baccalaureate courses to be similar to Advanced Placement courses of the College Entrance Examination Board and grants six semester hours of credit for scores of four or better. Three semester hours of credit will be granted for completion of subsidiary level courses with a score of five or higher. Three semester hours of credit will be granted for successful completion of the Theory of Knowledge, if the student has received the diploma.
AP Policy: A student entering Messiah College will be granted credit for Advanced Placement (AP) examinations of the College Board upon presentation of a score of three or higher.
A-Level Policy: Upon receipt of a transcript from the British Examination Authority, the College will also grant credit for each British advanced-level examination (A-level) score of B or higher.
German Abitur or French Baccalaureat: Messiah College will award a maximum of 16 credits. Exams to be accepted by Messiah College must be in subjects where we would also accept AP scores.
You can read more about AP,IB, and CLEP tests here.
Can I apply for entry in the spring (February) semester?
Yes, you can. Choose “spring” on the application.
If I have attended a post-secondary institution but would like to start my studies over; can I apply as a first-year student?
Any student who has attended a post-secondary institution (college or university) after graduation from high school/secondary school must apply as a transfer student.
What is the mailing address for sending my documents to Messiah College?
You may send application documents to
Messiah College Office of Undergraduate International Admissions
One College Ave Suite 3005
Mechanicsburg PA 17055 U.S.A.
Do I need to send official TOEFL or SAT score reports directly from ETS or the College Board??
If your TOEFL or SAT scores are included on your official high school transcript sent to us directly from your school, we will consider those as official score reports.
Do you need my transcripts in the original language or in English?
If your original transcript is not in English, you will need to provide a certified, translated copy for us to review.
Can I contact a current international student with my questions?
Feel free to use our Connect with a Student feature to email with students in the same area of study you're interested in. If you want to speck with an international student specifically, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to have a current international student respond to your questions.
I have questions that are not addressed in the international FAQ section. Where can I direct these questions?
Any further questions may be directed to email@example.com.
Click to view glossary:
College - In the United States, the terms "college" and "university" are often used interchangeably. The level or quality of education available can be comparable in a college or university.
Financial aid - Commonly refers to the money given for educational expenses in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work study. Financial aid may or may not have to be paid back to the school and/or lender.
Grant - A grant is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on financial need. Students are not expected to pay back aid given in the form of a grant.
Liberal arts - A liberal arts education provides a focus of study on human thought, action, emotion and character, providing the means for students to form a comprehensive intellectual, moral and spiritual identity during their college years while they also cultivate the highly prized career skills of critical and creative thinking, articulate oral and written communication and a broad grasp of society and culture. Wherever your interests lie in our many areas of study, you'll find abundant opportunities to pursue them with confidence that your undergraduate education will open doors to a wide variety of graduate and professional programs and future careers.
Loan - A loan is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on financial need and ability to repay. Students are expected to pay back aid given in the form of a loan, along with any interest that may accrue during the payback period. Loans are generally not available to non-U.S. citizens except where they have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has a good credit rating.
Major - another term for an academic program of study which leads to a bachelor's degree. In some countries this is the term for "career" or "course of study."
Rolling admission - With rolling admissions, application files are reviewed shortly after all requirements have been received, and applicants are often notified of their acceptance or rejection within a few weeks of applying. A college with rolling admission typically accepts applications for as long as spaces are available for enrollment.
Scholarship - A scholarship is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on certain measures of merit. Students are not expected to pay back aid given in the form of a scholarship; however, students may be required to maintain certain academic or extra-curricular standards in order to keep the scholarship.
Transcript - Official record of secondary school classes/courses and final grades for each course. This document typically reflects the last four to six years of high school/secondary school (depending on the country).
Transfer student - A transfer student is any applicant who has attended college/university and completed 12 or more credits post-high school graduation.
TOEFL - The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) helps prove that you have sufficient English skills to allow you to participate and succeed in an academic classroom. More than 8,000 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries rely on TOEFL® test scores to help make admissions decisions. Paper and online versions of the exam are available at www.ets.org/toefl.