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Graduate Students

Congratulations on your admission to Michigan State University! You are officially a member of the Michigan State University community. Orientation is designed to connect incoming students find resources and opportunities, assist students in their transition to the university, and educate students about visa and immigration processes and requirements.


 

Academic Department or College Orientation


Your academic department or college will email you with department or college-specific orientation information. If you have not received an email from your department or college, contact them directly. Most departments and colleges have graduate program directors or secretaries. They are often the best person to contact for this information. You can usually find staff directories on department and college websites. A department and program directory is available to find appropriate contact information. 


Apply to Live On Campus 

On campus Housing information can be found at https://liveon.msu.edu/. Owen Hall, in the River Trail Neighborhood, is ideal for graduate and professional students who desire a living environment conducive to study, along with the privacy of a single room. MSU offers single-student apartments and family apartments.

MSU also has an off-campus housing site at https://offcampushousing.msu.edu/.


Getting Started at MSU: D2L Online Learning Environment


D2L is Michigan State University’s online learning system. D2L provides the platform and tools for online and web enhanced courses at MSU. Instructors use D2L to give students access to course materials, collaboration, submission of assignments, online testing, grades, and other resources. D2L is also used by many MSU departments to provide non-credit training.

Learning how to use D2L is an important step in getting ready to study and teach at MSU.

Access D2L here.

  • Access D2L Training Course
    This free, no credit training course called “Students - Getting Started with D2L” contains video tutorials covering the commonly used aspects of the D2L Learning Environment as well as success tips and practice activities to complete. This free training is a valuable learning resource for students, as well as instructors and staff. You can self-enroll or unenroll from the course at any time.

    Learn more and self-enroll in Students – Getting Started with D2L

  • Online Academic Training
    Prepare yourself for academic study at MSU by completing a free, no-credit course in D2L called Online Academic Training. This course will help you with your transition to American academic life. Through a series of engaging videos and activities, you will set the tone and establish the basic skill set to be ready when the semester starts.

MSU COVID-19 Health Protocols


All MSU travelers, domestic and international, who are incoming to campus are asked to follow MSU health protocols outlined by the MSU Office for International Health and Safety. Visit the Together We Will website for the latest information on COVID-19 requirements. 


Health Insurance, Visa/Immigration, and Dependents

F-1 Students

MSU Student Health Insurance

Health Insurance Requirement:

International students at Michigan State University have long been required to carry health insurance and have been automatically enrolled in MSU’s Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP. Students have previously had the option to waive out of the required MSU SHIP, with privately obtained health insurance coverage. Starting Fall 2020, international students will be required to keep the MSU SHIP, without a waiver option for most students.

Privately obtained health insurance plans often cover less than the MSU SHIP and exclude coverage for common health events experienced by college students.

In recent years, international students with private coverage have experienced financial hardship and barriers to health care access, resulting in threats to academic success and student wellbeing.

The MSU SHIP is comprehensive and compliant with the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that international Spartans are fully protected in the event of a health care emergency.

The current health insurance provider for MSU international students is the Blue Care Network, often called simply "BCN". You can learn more about the BCN plan on the MSU Human Resources website.

New Student Early Arrival Health Insurance

Fall 2021 Early Arrival Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage for the Fall 2021 semester begins on August 16, 2021. MSU students entering the United States before August 16 should buy early arrival health insurance coverage to ensure they have access to health care the entire time they are inside the country. Early arrival coverage costs $6 per day and can be purchased for any number of days. 

To apply for the early arrival coverage, please use this application form: Early Arrival Health Insurance - Summer 2021 

When the application form is complete, you should send it to MSU Human Resources - SolutionsCenter(at)hr.msu.edu. This is important: You must send it from your @msu.edu email address and use the following subject line for the email: IS Early Arrival Application #encrypt

Using “#encrypt” in the subject line will protect the email message and the attached application form, which is very important since it will contain credit/debit card information. 

Please contact ihealth(at)msu.edu with any questions or concerns.

Documents Needed to Enter the U.S.

In order to enter the United States in F-1 status, students must present the following documents to the immigration inspector at the port of entry:

  • A valid passport (valid six months beyond the date of entry)
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp (not required for Canadians)
  • A valid I-20 Form
  • A copy of your SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Original financial documentation
  • Admission letter from MSU
  • Travel Letter from OISS

Your passport, issued by your country of citizenship, should be valid for six months beyond the date you enter the United States and remain valid for the length of your stay. To obtain or renew your passport, contact your home government authorities. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport in case it is ever lost.

Get I-20 from MSU and Check for Errors

The Form I-20 is issued to students who intend to study in the U.S. in F-1 status.

Initial Attendance I-20

If you are not in the U.S. you will receive an Initial Attendance I-20 from MSU. You will need the I-20 to pay the SEVIS fee and to apply for an F-1 visa. If you have dependents (spouse or children) traveling with you, each dependent will need their own I-20 to apply for an F-2 visa. F-2 dependents do not pay the SEVIS fee.

Transfer I-20

If you are currently in F-1 status in the U.S., you may transfer your I-20 to MSU. Once the transfer is complete, MSU will issue you a Transfer Pending I-20. Learn more about transferring your I-20 to MSU on our Transfer In and Out webpage

Change of Status

If you are currently in the U.S. in another immigration status and will apply to change status to F-1, you will be issued and I-20 to change status. Changing status to F-1 can take 2-4 months and sometimes longer. If you are in an immigration status that does not allow enrollment in classes or studying, you will not be able to start your program at MSU until after the Change of Status is approved. If you are in an immigration status that allows enrollment in classes and studying but does not allow employment in the U.S., you will not be able to work at MSU as a student employee or graduate assistant until the Change of Status is approved. 

Learn more about how to apply on our Change of Status webpage

Check your I-20 for Errors

After you receive your I-20 and admissions materials from MSU, please review everything carefully and check for any errors on your I-20. Email oiss(at)msu.edu if you find an error on your I-20 so that we can correct it and mail an updated I-20 to you before you pay the SEVIS fee, schedule your visa interview, apply to change status, or enter the U.S.

Pay the SEVIS Fee

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) was designed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain accurate and current information about international students and scholars in F, J, and M visa status, their academic activities, and their accompanying family members. There is a required government-mandated fee that has to be paid before you can apply for your U.S. visa.

How much is the SEVIS Fee?

SEVIS Fee for F-1 students is $350. 

Learn more about the SEVIS fee on our SEVIS Fee Facts webpage.

Initial I-20 

If you are coming to MSU from outside of the United States, you will need pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. After paying the fee, print a copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt. You will need to show the receipt to the U.S. consulate or embassy and when you enter the U.S.  Learn more about how to pay the fee on the SEVIS Fee website. 

Transfer I-20

If you are transferring your I-20 to MSU from another U.S. institution, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again. You already paid the fee when you first applied for an F-1 visa, entered the U.S. in F-1 status, or changed status to F-1. 

Changing Status to F-1

You will need to pay the SEVIS fee if you were issued an I-20 to Change Status to F-1 from within the United States. Learn more about changing status to F-1 on our Change of Status webpage.

Apply for an F-1 Visa

What is a Visa?

The visa is a stamp that a U.S. consulate or embassy puts in your passport. You must have a valid F-1 visa stamp and valid I-20 in order to enter the United States.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are exempt from the U.S. visa stamp requirements. At the port of entry, Canadian citizens will need to present their I-20 and Canadian passport along with proof of payment of the SEVIS fee and adequate financial support to study in the U.S. If you are a Canadian landed immigrant entering the United States, you are required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp. Please contact the U.S. consulate in your area for more information.

U.S. Consulate or Embassy Application and Appointment

Check the U.S. consulate or embassy website where you will apply for a list of required documents, forms, and instructions on how to apply for an F-1 visa. Please be aware that each consulate or embassy may require different information and have specific application procedures.

Find a U.S. consulate or embassy website on the U.S. Department of State website.

Required Documents

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you reenter the U.S.
  • I-20
  • A copy of your SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Original financial documents verifying funding as listed on the I-20
  • Letter of acceptance from the Office of Admissions at MSU
  • Passport-type photographs
  • Application forms and fees as required by the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for your F-1 visa

What happens if my visa expires while I am in the U.S.?

Your visa stamp must be valid when you enter the United States. Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S. and you may remain legally in the U.S. as long as your I-20 is still valid. 

F-1 students and F-2 dependents may remain in the United States with an expired visa stamp as long as:

  • Your I-20 is valid
  • F-1 immigration status is indicated on your I-94, along with "D/S" (Duration of Stay)
  • You maintain your immigration status

How many times can I use my visa to enter the U.S.?

Your visa stamp tells you how many times you may enter the U.S. This is usually one, two, or M (for multiple). If students or dependents use all of their entries and they wants to enter the U.S. again they must get a new F-1 or F-2 visa. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your visa stamp in case it is ever lost.

Learn more about Maintaining Immigration Status

Learn more about Travel and Visas

View and print your I-94 after you enter the U.S.

Tips to Apply for a Student Visa

Before you apply for your student visa it is important to prepare yourself. Not only is it important to have your documents organized, it is also important to prepare for the visa interview. Here are two websites that offer valuable tips to help you get ready. 

U.S. Department of State - Education USA

U.S. Department of State - Education USA Tips to Apply For Your U.S. Student Visa

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa

Enter the U.S.

When can I enter the U.S.?

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date, as listed on your I-20. If you will be delayed in your arrival, please notify oiss(at)msu.edu.

What happens when I enter the U.S.?

At the port of entry, the U.S. Customers and Border Officer will inspect your Form I-20 and give it back to you. The Border Officer will also inspect your passport and F-1 visa (if applicable), issue an admission stamp, write "F-1/DS", and return your passport to you.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Forms

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admits you to the U.S. with an electronic I-94 at the Port of Entry or a paper I-94 when entering at a land border or sea border and other limited circumstances. Travelers will also receive a CBP admission stamp in their passports.

  • The new admission stamp will have the date of admission to the U.S., the class of admission (F-1), and "D/S" (Duration of Status) meaning that your F-1 status is valid until your I-20 expires, your program of study ends, or your status is terminated for failure to maintain status.

  • After entering the U.S., you will need to print out your I-94 on the I-94 website. Your I-94 printout will show your admission number. You will need your I-94 printout to apply for immigration and public benefits such as a Driver's License or Social Security Number.

  • After you print out your I-94, verify that all information is correct. If the I-94 information is incorrect, please contact OISS. OISS can advise you on how to request a correction. Also check dependent I-94 records.

  • When you leave the U.S., if you have a paper I-94 card, you will still give it to your airline at check-in or to CBP. If you have an electronic I-94, CBP will record your departure using Manifest information obtained from the commercial carrier.

Dependents in F-2 Status

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are considered dependents of F-1 students and can be admitted to the U.S. in F-2 non-immigrant status.

Documents Needed to Enter the U.S. in F-2 Status

  • F-2 I-20 issued by MSU
  • F-2 visa stamp
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry

Health Insurance for Dependents

Please note that spouses and children (dependents) are not automatically enrolled in the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan. You must enroll your family members through the Blue Care Network website for MSU students and dependents. You will need to create a log-in in order to access your account and add dependents. Payment is required at the time of enrollment.

Learn more about F-2 dependents on our Family and Dependents webpage

Notify OISS if Your Arrival is Delayed

If unexpected events cause your arrival to be delayed beyond the start of the semester, connect with your academic department to determine how late you can arrive after the semester begins. You must also notify OISS by emailing oiss(at)msu.edu. We may need to create an updated I-20 for you with a later start date.

J-1 Students

New Student Early Arrival Health Insurance

All international students will be enrolled in MSU Student Health Insurance Plan (MSU SHIP) after enrolling in one or more classes for Spring Semester 2021. MSU SHIP Spring Semester coverage begins on January 1, 2021 and ends on August 15, 2021. 

If you will arrive in the U.S. before the MSU SHIP start date, we strongly recommend that you purchase daily MSU SHIP coverage. The cost is $6 per day, per person.

Email SolutionsCenter(at)hr.msu.edu to request the Early Arrival Health Insurance application form. 

MSU Student Health Insurance Plan Rates and Dates of Coverage (Cost)

Required Health Insurance

Immigration regulations require that all students and dependents in J-1 and J-2 have health insurance that meets specific requirements. 

The health care system in the United States is complex, and as a student at MSU, you are required to have health insurance.

International students will be automatically enrolled in the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan (MSU SHIP). After you are enrolled in classes for spring semester, you will see charges for health insurance on your bill in StuInfo. Most international students will not be able to waive out of the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan. There are some exceptions, however. 

Please note that spouses and children (dependents) are not automatically enrolled in the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan. You must enroll your family members through the Blue Care Network website for MSU students and dependents. You will need to create a log-in in order to access your account and add dependents. Payment is required at the time of enrollment.

Learn More

OISS U.S. Health Care and Insurance 

  • exemption applications for Spring 2021
  • waiver exception criteria
  • how to use your MSU Student Health Insurance
  • where to go for healthcare in the East Lansing area

Questions?

If you have questions about Health Insurance or Healthcare in the U.S. the OISS Community Health Team is here to help! Email ihealth(at)msu.edu.

Documents Needed to Enter the U.S.

In order to enter the United States in J-1 status, students must present the following documents to the immigration inspector at the port of entry:

  • A valid passport (valid six months beyond the date of entry)
  • A valid J-1 visa stamp (not required for Canadians)
  • A valid DS-2019 Form
  • A copy of your SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Original financial documentation
  • Admission letter from MSU

Your passport, issued by your country of citizenship, should be valid for six months beyond the date you enter the United States and remain valid for the length of your stay. To obtain or renew your passport, contact your home government authorities. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport in case it is ever lost.

Get DS-2019 and Check for Errors

After receiving your DS-2019 and accompanying documents from MSU, please carefully read all enclosed materials.

When you receive your DS-2019, please review it carefully for any errors. Contact jvisas(at)msu.edu immediately if you find an error on your DS-2019.

Pay the SEVIS Fee

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) was designed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain accurate and current information about international students and scholars in F, J, and M visa status, their academic activities, and their accompanying family members. There is a required government-mandated fee that has to be paid before you can apply for your U.S. visa.

How much is the SEVIS Fee?

The SEVIS Fee for J-1 students will be $220. 

Learn more about the SEVIS fee on our SEVIS Fee Facts webpage.

Prior to your visa interview, you must pay the SEVIS Fee.

Apply for a J-1 Visa

What is a Visa?

The visa is a stamp that a U.S. consulate or embassy puts in your passport. You must have a valid J-1 visa stamp and valid DS-2019 in order to enter the United States.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are exempt from the U.S. visa stamp requirements. At the port of entry, Canadian citizens will need to present their DS-2019 and Canadian passport along with proof of payment of the SEVIS fee and adequate financial support to study in the U.S. If you are a Canadian landed immigrant entering the United States, you are required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp. Please contact the U.S. consulate in your area for more information.

U.S. Consulate or Embassy Application and Appointment

Check the U.S. consulate or embassy website where you will apply for a list of required documents, forms, and instructions on how to apply for a J-1 visa. Please be aware that each consulate or embassy may require different information and have specific application procedures.

Find a U.S. consulate or embassy website on the U.S. Department of State website.

Required Documents

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you reenter the U.S.
  • DS-2019
  • A copy of your SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Original financial documents verifying funding as listed on the DS-2019
  • Letter of acceptance from the Office of Admissions at MSU
  • Passport-type photographs
  • Application forms and fees as required by the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for your J-1 visa

What happens if my visa expires while I am in the U.S.?

Your visa stamp must be valid when you enter the United States. Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S. and you may remain legally in the U.S. as long as your DS-2019 is still valid. 

J-1 students and J-2 dependents may remain in the United States with an expired visa stamp as long as:

  • Your DS-2019 is valid
  • J-1 immigration status is indicated on your I-94, along with "D/S" (Duration of Stay)
  • You maintain your immigration status

How many times can I use my visa to enter the U.S.?

Your visa stamp tells you how many times you may enter the U.S. This is usually one, two, or M (for multiple). If students or dependents use all of their entries and they wants to enter the U.S. again they must get a new J-1 or J-2 visa. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your visa stamp in case it is ever lost.

Learn more about Maintaining Immigration Status

Learn more about Travel and Visas

View and print your I-94 after you enter the U.S.

Tips to Apply for a Student Visa

Before you apply for your student visa it is important to prepare yourself. Not only is it important to have your documents organized, it is also important to prepare for the visa interview. Here are two websites that offer valuable tips to help you get ready. 

U.S. Department of State - Education USA

U.S. Department of State - Education USA Tips to Apply For Your U.S. Student Visa

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa

Enter the U.S.

When can I enter the U.S.?

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date and no later than 20 days after the program start date, as listed on your DS-2019. If you will be delayed in your arrival, please notify jvisas(at)msu.edu

What happens when I enter the U.S.?

At the port of entry, the U.S. Customers and Border Officer will inspect your DS-2019 and give it back to you. The Border Officer will also inspect your passport and J-1 visa (if applicable), issue an admission stamp, write "J-1/DS", and return your passport to you.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Forms

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admits you to the U.S. with an electronic I-94 at the Port of Entry or a paper I-94 when entering at a land border or sea border and other limited circumstances. Travelers will also receive a CBP admission stamp in their passports.

  • The new admission stamp will have the date of admission to the U.S., the class of admission (J-1), and "D/S" (Duration of Status) meaning that your J-1 status is valid until your DS-2019 expires, your program of study ends, or your status is terminated for failure to maintain status.

  • After entering the U.S., you will need to print out your I-94 on the I-94 website. Your I-94 printout will show your admission number. You will need your I-94 printout to apply for immigration and public benefits such as a Driver's License or Social Security Number.

  • After you print out your I-94, verify that all information is correct. If the I-94 information is incorrect, please contact OISS. OISS can advise you on how to request a correction. Also check dependent I-94 records.

  • When you leave the U.S., if you have a paper I-94 card, you will still give it to your airline at check-in or to CBP. If you have an electronic I-94, CBP will record your departure using Manifest information obtained from the commercial carrier.

Dependents in J-2 Status

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are considered dependents of J-1 students and scholars and can be admitted to the U.S. in J-2 non-immigrant status. 

Documents Needed to Enter the U.S. in J-2 Status

  • J-2 DS-2019 issued by MSU
  • J-2 visa stamp
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry

Health Insurance for Dependents

Please note that spouses and children (dependents) are not automatically enrolled in the MSU Student Health Insurance Plan. You must enroll your family members through the Blue Care Network website for MSU students and dependents. You will need to create a log-in in order to access your account and add dependents. Payment is required at the time of enrollment.

Learn more about J-2 dependents on our Family and Dependents webpage

Notify OISS if Your Arrival is Delayed

If unexpected events cause your arrival to be delayed beyond the start of the semester, you must notify OISS immediately by emailing jvisas(at)msu.edu. We may have to create a new DS-2019 for you with a later start date.

Immigration Check-In

International Students in F-1 and J-1 status must complete Immigration Check-In online with OISS. After arriving in the U.S. students will be required to fill out a check-in form online. A step-by-step guide to completing immigration check-in will be emailed to students for whom check-in is required. OISS staff will review your check-in submission and will follow up with you by email if any further information is required.

 

Checklist, Housing, Packing, Transportation, Banking

Checklist

  1. Complete the list of required Next Steps on Your Account.

  2. Learn how to log-in and use the D2L Learning Environment and then complete the free, no-credit training course called Students - Getting Started with D2L

  3. Prepare yourself for academic study at MSU by completing an optional, free, no-credit course called Online Academic Training

  4. Apply to live on-campus and select a dining plan.

  5. F-1 Students: Print the Travel Letter from OISS and keep it in your passport or with your I-20
     
  6. Apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp for your passport in order to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status.
     
  7. Buy your plane ticket to the Lansing (LAN) or Detroit Airport (DTW). You can enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

  8. Set up your Lyft account using the Lyft App or on the Lyft Mobile website. Lyft is a ride-sharing company, similar to Uber. OISS will provide a Lyft code (coupon) to students to help with the cost of a Lyft ride from the Lansing Airport. 

  9. If you arrive in East Lansing before you are able to move into your on-campus or off-campus housing, you will need to arrange for a place to stay before you enter the U.S. Hotels in the East Lansing Area (PDF)

Find A Place to Live

Learn more about how to find a place to live, set up utilities, and other practical information on Find a Place to Live.

Shipping Your Belongings

If you cannot fit all of your personal belongings into your checked or carry-on luggage, it is possible to ship your belongings to East Lansing. MSU will not store personal belongings for you before move-in. See below for information on how to ship your belongings before and after move-in.   

U.S. Customs

All items shipped from outside the U.S. must be cleared through U.S. Customs at a U.S. Port of Entry. You can arrange to have a freight-forwarding company or customs broker take your packages through the customs inspection and send them to East Lansing or you can take your packages through inspection yourself at the airport.

Shipping Belongings to East Lansing Before You Move In

If your belongings will arrive in East Lansing before the date that you can move into your on-campus or off-campus housing, we recommend that you use Two Men and A Truck storage and delivery service. MSU has a contract with Two Men and A Truck in order to make the shipping and move-in process easier for students. 

To arrange for storage and delivery of your belongings, go to the Two Men and A Truck student storage website.

  1. Under "Personalize your storage plan" select "Michigan State University" and select the plan you prefer.
  2. Press "Send Request."
  3. Two Men and A Truck will email you to get more information about your shipping and delivery needs, finalize the cost, and receive payment from you. 

Shipping Belongings to East Lansing After You Move In

If your belongings will arrive in East Lansing after you move into your on-campus or off-campus housing, you can ship your belongings directly to your on or off-campus address. 

You can find your on-campus address by logging into iLiveOn. To understand how to write your on-campus address on your package go to the MSU Live On Mailing Addresses website.

What to Pack and Michigan Weather

U.S. Port of Entry Checklist

Make sure you have the following documents with you in your carry-on bag when you enter the U.S. Do not pack these documents in your checked luggage. 

  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (except for Canadian citizens)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • MSU letter of acceptance
  • Proof of financial support for course of study

What to Pack

As you prepare for your trip, keep in mind that rooms in the residence halls and apartments are generally small. In order not to crowd your room (and possibly your roommate) and to avoid excess baggage charges, bring only essentials with you. You will be able to buy many things that you need for your room, school supplies, additional clothing and personal items after you arrive. Our current international students say they consider the following items most important to bring with them from home:

  • Face masks (single use or cloth washable)
  • Hand sanitizer (check with your airline about volume limitations for carry-on liquids)
  • Frequently used and favorite books
  • Educational instruments and supplies (laptops, calculators, paint brushes, etc.)
  • Spare eye glasses or contact lenses
  • Medications. You should translate ingredients and dosage instructions into English on a separate piece of paper and pack that with your medications. 
  • Adequate clothing (including national dress for special occasions)
  • Pictures, artifacts, and other items typical of your country

Weather in East Lansing

Michigan is located in the northern part of the United States. We have four distinct seasons of the year and temperatures change a lot between Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Temperatures and weather can change suddenly during the day and from day-to-day. We have a saying in Michigan: "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes."

Summer lasts from June - September and can be hot and humid. It is common to have thunderstorms and rain during the summer. People often wear thinner cotton clothing, shorts and short sleeved shirts. Most classroom buildings are air conditioned so it can be chilly inside. Bringing a sweater with you every day is a good idea. It is also a good idea to carry a small umbrella with you in your bag every day in case the weather changes to rain. Average temperatures during the day are around 27 degrees C (80 degrees F). 

Fall lasts from September - December and ranges from hot to very cold. One day it may be hot and sunny and the next day cold and snowing. However, the first snow usually happens in late November or early December. People dress in layers of clothing in case the temperature changes during the day. It is a good idea to always carry a small umbrella with you in your bag every day in case the weather changes to rain. Average temperatures during the day range from 23 degrees C in September (73 degrees F) to 1 degree C in December (34 degrees F). 

Winter lasts from December - March and ranges from very cold to mildly warm. We usually have a lot of snow in January - March. People dress in warm sweaters, down feather coats, warm boots, hats, scarves and gloves. Buildings can be hot inside, so it's a good idea to dress in layers. Average temperatures during the day range from -1 degree C in January (30 degrees F) to 7 degrees C in March (44 degrees F). 

Spring lasts from March - June and ranges from very cold to warm. It can snow in April. People dress in warm sweaters, wool or fleece coats, hats, scarves and gloves. Buildings can be hot inside, so it's a good idea to dress in layers. Average temperatures during the day range from 14 degrees C in April (58 degrees F) to 26 degrees C in June (78 degrees F). 

Travel and Transportation to MSU

Carry-On Bag

Keep your I-20 or DS-2019, Passport with F-1 or J-1 visa and admission letter in your carry-on bag. You will need to show these documents to an immigration officer when you arrive in the U.S. Do not put these documents in your checked luggage.

Luggage Tag

Be sure you have a luggage tag attached to all of your suitcases before you fly to the U.S. Write your name, full address, and phone number in English. 

Airport Options

MSU campus is located in the city of East Lansing in the state of Michigan. 

Lansing Capital Region International Airport (LAN) The closest airport to MSU is Lansing Capital Region International Airport (LAN). If you want to fly into Lansing, you will have to fly through another city in the U.S. Many students fly to Lansing through Detroit or Chicago. 

Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) Many students choose fly to Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). If you fly into the Detroit Metro Airport, you can take a Michigan Flyer bus to East Lansing. Learn more about fares and times for this bus service on the Michigan Flyer website.

Move-In and Shopping

On Campus Residence Halls and Apartments 


MSU Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) will let you know when you can move into your residence hall or apartment. Watch for emails from REHS Live On and check your My Housing account for updates. 

If you need pillows, sheets, blankets, and towels to use before you are able to purchase your own, ask for these items when you move in. 

Off Campus Residence Halls and Apartments 

Contact your apartment leasing/rental office if you have questions about your move-in date. Your move-in date should be listed on your lease/rental contract. 

Shopping and Groceries 

Once you are settled in, you can call for a taxi, or schedule an Uber or Lyft to go to Target, a large store on Grand River Avenue, across the street from the north side of campus (near North Neighborhood). Target, you can buy pillows, sheets, blankets, towels, food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and anything else you want to make your room feel like home. Target can also deliver your order to you in your residence hall or apartment.  

Another shopping option is to call for a taxi, or schedule an Uber or Lyft or take the CATA Bus Route 1 to go to Meijer, a large store that is open 24 hours a day. At Meijer, you can buy pillows, sheets, blankets, towels, food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and many other items to make your room feel like home. Meijer has an International grocery & food area where you may be able to find brands to are familiar with. Meijer can also deliver your order to you in your residence hall or apartment.

You can buy groceries on-campus at Sparty's Market, an urban market-style grocery store located in 1855 Place at the corner of Harrison Road and Kalamazoo Street - across the street from Breslin Student Events Center and just south of Brody Neighborhood. Sparty's Market features prepared foods and grill items, pre-packaged and self-serve bulk foods, a bakery station with coffee and fountain drinks, a dairy case, deli sandwiches, hot breakfast dishes, a wide variety of dry grocery items, health and beauty needs, household items and more. 

Another place to buy groceries and personal care items close to campus is Fresh Thyme. Fresh Thyme is a large natural foods grocery store located across the street from the south-west side of campus, near South Neighborhood. Fresh Thyme also offers delivery of your order to your residence hall or apartment. 

CATA Bus Transportation

Off-campus CATA bus routes for MSU students cost $.60 (60 cents) per ride, in cash or coins. You pay every time you board the bus. You must show your MSU ID to the bus driver to get this reduced fare. If you think that you will use the CATA buses off-campus frequently, you can purchase a CATA bus pass through the MSU ID Office

During the semester, on-campus CATA bus routes are free for MSU students with your MSU ID. On-campus CATA bus service, called Spartan Service, begins on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Hotels in the East Lansing Area

If you arrive in East Lansing before you are able to move into your on-campus or off-campus housing, you will need to arrange for a place to stay before arriving in the U.S. Go to Student Housing and Dining for a list of hotels in the East Lansing area. 

Open a US Bank Account

There are many banking options in the Greater Lansing area. Michigan State University has a connection with the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU). Members of MSUFCU have free and easy access to the only ATMs on MSU’s campus—over 35 in all, along with a full-service branch located in the MSU Union. However, you may choose to open a bank account with different bank.

Contact the banks that you are interested in to find out how to open up a checking or savings account and get an ATM card. You may also want to ask about wire transaction fees to compare costs before deciding on a bank to use. 

If you are interested in opening up a checking or savings account with MSUFCU, you may visit their International Student webpage, or review this Handout and MSUFCU Account Checklist for more information.

Here is a list of banks in East Lansing on Google Maps

Canceling Admission to MSU

While we hope that you choose to attend MSU, because it's great to be a Spartan, we understand that plans can change. 

If you are not coming to MSU, please notify your academic department or college. A department and program directory is available to find appropriate contact information.