Frequently Asked Questions

About Admission

What do I need to send in to apply?

Everyone must send in:

  • a completed, signed application form
  • a high school diploma or a college transcript/diploma
  • a $110 application fee (money order or certified check made payable to the “University of Maryland”)

If you are not in the United States, then

  • if you are not sponsored:
    • an original bank statement showing enough money to pay for tuition and expenses while studying at MEI
  • if you are privately sponsored:
    • the sponsor must sign the application form in the “Financial Sources” section
    • the sponsor must include an original bank statement showing money to support your studying at MEI
    • sponsors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents should submit a notarized Form I-134
    • sponsors who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents should submit an original letter of support
  • if you are sponsored by a government, business, or institution:
    • submit an original sponsorship letter
    • no bank statement is required

If you are in the United States, then

  • if you have an F-1 visa:
    • an original bank statement showing enough money to pay for tuition and expenses while studying at MEI
    • a photocopy of your I-94 (in your passport)
    • a photocopy of your current I-20 form
    • a photocopy of your passport visa stamp
    • a completed transfer form
  • if you have another kind of visa:
    • a photocopy of your passport visa stamp
    • a photocopy of your I-94 (in your passport)
    • fill in your visa type on line #12 of the MEI application form
  • if you are a permanent resident:
    • a photocopy of your Green Card

How can I pay the application fee?

You can pay with a money order or a certified check. Either should be made payable to the “University of Maryland.”

Do I have to have a TOEFL score to be admitted?

No, you do not have to have a TOEFL score.

How long does it take to process my application?

All I-20 requests take approximately 3 weeks to be processed if your application is complete. MEI will mail your I-20 and admissions packet via FedEx.

Can I fax my application materials or do I have to mail them?

You must mail the materials in to the Maryland English Institute.

Can I apply to both MEI and the University of Maryland?

The applications are separate.

Is admission to MEI the same as admission to the University of Maryland?

No. Admission to MEI does not guarantee admission to the University of Maryland.

Can I take classes at the University of Maryland while attending MEI?

If you are a conditionally admitted student, then yes. Otherwise, if you are admitted to the IEP program but not to UMD, no.

Do you have conditional admission to the University of Maryland?

MEI does not offer conditional admission to the University of Maryland. The university does offer conditional admission both to undergraduate and graduate students. If you are applying as an undergraduate student, you can find more information through the International Student and Scholar Services—Undergraduate Admissions. If you are applying as a graduate student, you can find more information through the International Student and Scholar Services—Graduate Admissions.

What do I need to complete my transfer application?

You will need to complete a transfer form. This form asks for your name, current address, and when you want to start at MEI. There are also questions to be answered by the International Student Advisor at your current school.

Can students attend MEI part-time?

It depends on the student’s visa status. Students on F-1 student visas cannot study part-time; they must maintain full-time enrollment. Dependents of visitors on J-1 or J-2 visas can study part-time. Diplomats on A-1 or A-2 visas can also study part-time.

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About Getting a Visa

Do I have to get an F-1 visa?

You will need a visa to study in the USA. The F-1 Student Visa is the most common visa for students. You may be able to get a J-1 Student Visa, but you would need to be sponsored by an organization that has been approved by the U.S. State Department.

When should I schedule my visa interview?

Once you receive your I-20 from MEI, you can schedule your interview. Apply for your visa as soon as you can. June, July, and August are usually the busiest months. Allow 3 to 4 weeks for planning and getting an appointment. You can call the U.S. embassy in your country or go to the embassy web site for information and instructions.

What do I need to bring to my visa interview?

  • The I-20 form you receive from MEI.
  • A completed DS-156 and DS-158 visa form (available at the embassy).
  • A photograph of each person applying. The photo must meet visa requirements.
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months longer than you expect to be in the U.S.
  • A receipt for the visa processing fee for each applicant.
  • A receipt for the SEVIS fee
  • Financial documents showing you have enough money to pay for tuition and living expenses during your time in the U.S.
  • Proof of your relationship to your spouse and children if you are married and/or have children.
  • Evidence that you have strong ties to your home country. This includes proof that you have a place of residence, that you intend to return to that residence, and that you intend to leave the U.S. when you finish your studies.

How can I prepare for my visa interview?

Your interview will be with an embassy official. The interview may not take much time. You should prepare in advance and bring all the required documents. Listen carefully and answer all the questions the official asks.

The official will want to know that you have good reasons for wanting to study in the U.S. So think about your reason for wanting to study English at MEI. Maybe it is to help your career in your home country. Maybe it is to get a better job. Maybe it is to learn English with native speakers. Maybe it is because the teaching methods in the U.S. will help you learn English as quickly as possible.

If you plan to study another subject after you finish at MEI, be ready to talk about that. Tell the official what subject you hope to study. Show the official that you know about the university or college that you have applied to. Be able to explain why you want to go to that school.

Most importantly, the official needs to know that you are coming to the U.S. to study. Wanting to visit friends or family is not a good reason for giving you a visa.

What can I do if my visa request is declined?

If your visa is denied, you can re-apply. The two most common reasons for a visa refusal are:

  • Your reasons for wanting to study in the U.S. were not good enough.
  • Your proof that you plan to return to your home country was not good enough.

If you re-apply, think about these two points. Be ready to discuss them in a different way than in your first interview. You may need to give more details about your commitments at home, or your plans for study.

More information is available at the Department of State and the USCIS web sites.

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About Costs

What is included in the university fee?

The university fee pays for support services. These include:

  • campus facilities use and maintenance
  • services at the campus health center
  • campus-wide technology services
  • student registration services
  • the recreation centers
  • shuttle bus service
  • the libraries
  • campus police
  • the computer labs
  • the writing language labs, and
  • disability support services.

Are scholarships or financial aid available for MEI?

No, MEI does not offer scholarships or financial aid.

When and how should I pay for my tuition?

You will pay for your tuition before the semester starts. If you are sponsored by an embassy, your sponsor will pay the university. Otherwise, you will pay at the Cashier’s Office on campus. You may pay by cash, money order, check, or credit card. Checks and money orders must be in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank.

I already have health insurance. Do I need to have UMD’s health insurance?

If you already have health insurance, you must provide proof of that coverage. If you do not have health insurance, you will need to have UMD’s health insurance.

How much will I have to pay for housing and food?

Housing costs range from $650 to $1500 per month. Food costs range from $300 to $400 per month.

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About Arriving

How do I get to campus?

The easiest way from one of the airports is by a shared van (shuttle) or taxi. The table below shows what you should expect to pay from the listed airport to College Park:

from Baltimore Washington (Airport Code: BWI) from Washington National
(Airport Code: DCA)
from Dulles International (Airport Code: IAD)
Shared Van $30-$35 $28-$32 $48-$52
Taxi $60-$65 $50-$60 $90-$95

Tipping is an important part of the service industry in the United States. You are generally expected to tip the shuttle or taxi driver 15%.

If you are not coming from one of the local airports, see these directions to UMD.

How much money should I bring with me?

You should budget at least $1000 for your first week here to cover such expenses as hotels, taxis and other costs. Try to bring most of your money as credit cards or traveler’s checks. Do NOT carry large amounts of cash with you.

What clothes should I bring with me?

College Park is a great place if you love changing seasons. We have moderate winters, including occasional snowstorms, so be prepared. Temperatures can go down to 20° F (-7° C), but are usually around 30 to 35° F (-1° to 2° C). The area’s fall temperatures are beautiful (50-60° F, 10-15° C), but you should come prepared with a few sweaters. Spring is a wonderful 60-75°F (16-24° C), but most rainfall comes during the spring, so you’ll need an umbrella and jacket. In summer, temperatures can be really hot – as high at 100° F (37° C) – and the weather can be very humid.

What should I do when I arrive at the airport?

After you clear customs, look for the signs that read “Local Transportation.” That’s where you will find shuttles and taxi service.

Will MEI arrange to pick me up at the airport?

MEI does not offer airport pickup at this time.

Where should I stay until I have an apartment or room?

Hotels within walking distance or a two-mile bus ride from the campus include:

Best Western Plus 1-800-780-7234 or
(301) 220-0505
Clarion Inn (301) 474-2800 or
Comfort Inn (301) 572-7100
Days Inn 1-800-407-9832 or
(301) 345-4900
Hampton Inn 1-800-HAMPTON or
(301) 345-2200
Holiday Inn Express 1-888-465-4329 or
(301) 476-1529
Holiday Inn Washington-College Park 1-888-465-4329 or
(301) 345-6700
Quality Inn and Suites (301) 276-1000

Rooms in hotels closest to the University of Maryland usually cost at least $80 to $120 per night, not including taxes. When contacting hotels, please ask about discounts for University of Maryland students.

What documents should I bring with me?

  • your Form I-20 if you have an F-1 visa
  • your Form DS-2019 if you have a J-1 or J-2 visa
  • your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record)
  • your passport
  • your visa
  • your letter of admission from MEI

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About the Program

Does MEI prepare students for the TOEFL and the IELTS?

All English classes at MEI focus on developing academic English skills. These are the skills you need to get high scores on the TOEFL or the IELTS exam. You can also take special TOEFL and IELTS prep classes during the summer.

Where do the students at MEI come from?

Since 2009, MEI has served students from 52 countries, representing speakers of 27 different languages. Students come from all continents of the world (except Antarctica!)

How many students are in each class at MEI?

Since 2009, the average number of students per class has been about 12. Classes are small enough for you to get individual attention, but large enough to have a variety of interesting people to work with.

When do classes meet? How long are classes?

IEP classes in the spring and fall semesters meet Monday through Friday, five days a week. The Reading, Writing, and Grammar classes are three hours per day, every day. The Listening & Speaking classes are two hours per day every day except Wednesday.

IEP classes in the summer semester meet Monday through Thursday, at least 4½ hours per day. Optional classes meet Monday through Friday and are from 2 to 4 hours long.

How many levels of English do you have?

The IEP program has five levels, from beginner through advanced.

How do I know what level I will be in?

You will take a placement test when you first come to MEI.

How long does it take to finish the program?

That depends on you. It is expected that a student will move up at least one level per semester. Some students move faster, some move slower.

Will I receive a certificate from MEI?

If you pass your classes, you will receive a Certificate of Achievement. You need a grade of 75% or better to pass your classes.

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About Student Life

How can I find a place to live?

You can find a map of local apartments here. You can find information about short-term (3 to 6 month) housing here. A listing of typical area rents is found here. A step-by-step guide to help you find off-campus housing is here.

Do you have email and Internet? Does it cost anything?

The university campus is fully wireless with Internet access everywhere. Part of your university fee pays for this. You will get a university email account when you register with MEI.

Should I open a bank account in the U.S.?

Many countries operate on a cash-only basis. Not the United States. Here, credit cards and debit cards are used all the time, even for small payments. A U.S. bank account will make managing your money a lot easier. You should set one up as soon as you arrive. You then can pay all of your bills by check, debit card, or online.

How do I set up a bank account?

When you arrive at MEI, you will be given a university ID. This ID allows you to use the shuttle bus, the recreational centers, and other campus services. You can also use it to set up a bank account on campus.

On campus, Capital One Bank operates a branch in the Stamp Student Union. Bring your immigration documents, your university ID, and the money you want to deposit. Capital One is used to seeing international students for new accounts, so setting up an account will be easy. More information can be found on the Capital One website.

You do not need to use Capital One, however. You can open an account at a local branch of any of the banks in the area. Three of the largest are Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America. Bring your immigration documents, your university ID, and the money you want to deposit.

Can I use my cell phone?

Your best option is to buy a local based SIM card to put in your current mobile phone. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card that will save you money on calling costs and avoid any roaming charges.

To make an international call using your USA SIM card in your phone, dial 011 then the country code and phone number.

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About Driving

Do I need a car at MEI?

No, you do not. Shuttle buses connect the campus to local housing and the Washington Metropolitan Area bus and subway system. There is also a car-sharing service (Zipcar) that lets you rent a car by the hour or day. BikeUMD can help you if you like biking.

How do I get a driver’s license?

If you have a driver’s license in your home country, and you plan to drive in Maryland, you must get a Maryland Driver’s License within 60 days of your arrival. Read more details about licensing. You also must register your car. Read more about registering a car.

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About Parking

Where can I park a car?

There is visitor parking at various locations on campus. Parking for spaces on the street or in parking lots costs $2.00 per hour. Parking in visitor garages costs $3.00 per hour. You can also buy a parking permit.

Why do I need a parking permit?

All lots on campus require parking permits from 7am – 4pm. If you park in a lot without a permit, you will be ticketed.

Can I get an assigned parking space?

You can get a parking permit but you will not be assigned a parking space. Plan to arrive on campus 15-20 minutes before class so you can be sure to find a space.

How do I get a permit?

During orientation, you will get information about parking permits.

How much does the permit cost?

The fee for a spring-only permit is $133; for a fall-only permit, the fee is $160. For a year-long permit, the fee is $266. You can also buy a bundle pack if you only need to park on campus sometimes. Each bundle pack allows 10 days of parking and costs $60.

Can I park anywhere?

You will be given an assigned lot. From 7am to 4pm you can only park in your assigned lot. After 4pm, several parking lots are open to anyone with a valid permit.

More details about parking can be found on this UMD webpage.

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About the ITA Evaluation

How can I prepare for my microteaching?

Follow these guidelines:

  • choose an important concept from your field
  • choose a topic for first-year undergraduate students
  • prepare an 8-minute mini-lecture
  • plan on using a whiteboard
  • make sure you can pronounce key terms
  • rehearse, but don’t memorize

What happens if I don’t pass the evaluation?

Depending on your score, you will be placed in either UMEI 006 or UMEI 008. Read more about these classes.

Can I appeal the results of my test?

Appeals are possible if:

  • the testing procedures were disturbed or interrupted
  • the testing results were based on incorrect student ID or name

Appeals must:

  • be in writing and made within 10 days after the ITA evaluation
  • be made by the referring Graduate Director
  • explain the basis for the appeal
  • include your name and your UID number
  • include the name of the department and of the Graduate Director

The appeal should be submitted by email to the MEI Director. The appeal will be reviewed within 3 working days. The decision of the MEI Director is final.

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