Student Resources and FAQ

Student Resources and FAQ

 

MARTA

MARTA is the public transportation system in Atlanta. It includes a train and bus service. The Oglethorpe University/Brookhaven train station is just a short walk from campus and there is a bus stop right outside the gate.

You pay for MARTA trips on a Breeze Card, which you can purchase at any train station, or discounted monthly passes are available in the bookstore. One way trips cost $2.50.

For more information about MARTA stops and directions, visit www.itsmarta.com.

Money and Banking

It is not safe to carry large amounts of money with you in the United States. Therefore when you arrive, you will want to consider opening a bank account. When you open a bank account, the bank will likely ask you for your passport or driver’s license, and Social Security Number (SSN). If you do not have a SSN, you can tell the bank that international students are not allowed to have a SSN unless they are employed.

If you would like your parents to be able to transfer money into your account, make sure you ask the bank to give you the information your parents would need to be able to transfer money to you.

The two closest banks to the University are:

SunTrust
4030 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30319
404.255.4130
Mon-Thurs: 9:00AM-4:00PM
Fri: 9:00AM-6:00PM
Wells Fargo
3890 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA
404.865.3470
Mon-Fri: 9:00AM-5:00PM
Sat: 9:00AM-12:00pm

Using an ATM and a Debit Card

Once you open a bank account, you will be given a debit card or check card. This card is used like a credit card except it deducts money directly from your checking account and you will not be billed at the end of the month. You may also need a PIN, a four-digit number that acts as a code or password to your account. However, it is important to keep track of your spending, because if you spend more money than you have in your account—you will likely be fined.

You can also use your debit card at an ATM. An ATM allows you to withdraw cash from your account, transfer money between savings and checking accounts, deposit cash or checks, view your balance, etc. If you use an ATM owned by your own bank, these transactions will be free but if you use an ATM of a different bank, there may be a small fee.

Money Facts

In the United States, our coins and bills sometimes have names, here are some below:
$1 or 100 cents= a one, a buck, a dollar, single
1 cent = a penny
5 cents = a nickel
10 cents = a dime
25 cents = a quarter
50 cents = a half-dollar (You won’t see these very often.)

There is also a one dollar coin, which is frequently dispensed as change from MARTA ticket machines, but not used much in other businesses. Be sure to check your coins carefully, as this coin is approximately the same size as the quarter, and may be either gold or silver in color.

Price Estimates

These are some of the prices you might expect to pay in the United States:
Cup of coffee: $2.50-$5
Movie ticket: $9-$15
Lunch: $5-$9
Dinner: $7-$15
Textbooks: $70-$200
**Please note that in the United States, textbooks are not provided. You can see which books you need for your courses as well as the prices at https://www.bkstr.com/oglethorpestore/home.

Driving

To get your driver’s license in the United States, you will need to take a written test and a road test at the Department of Driver Services or DDS. The closest DDS to Oglethorpe is:

8610 Roswell Road
Suite 710
Atlanta, GA 30350

You do not need an appointment to take your written test, however you DO need to schedule an appointment and have a car to drive during the road test. If you would like for your written test to be in your native language, make sure to request that.

When you go get your license, you will need to bring:

• Passport
• Home Driver’s License
• $20
• 2 Documents Providing Proof of Residence
• Form SSA-L676 ‘SSN CARD DENIAL NOTICE’ (unless you have a SSN number)
You can get this from the Social Security office at:

401 W Peachtree St NW
Suite 2860 Floor 28
Atlanta, GA 30308

Cell Phone

If you would like to buy a cell phone or have trouble with your current phone, please visit one of these locations for assistance:

T-Mobile
Located inside the Walmart about 10 minutes from Oglethorpe.
5147 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Chamblee, GA 30341
770.455.0422
Mon-Sun: 9:00AM-9:00PM
AT&T
Located in Town Brookhaven
105 Town Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30319
404.467.1676
Mon-Sat 9:00AM-9:00PM
Sun: 12:00PM-6:00PM
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Verizon
Located about 15 minutes from Oglethorpe
3275 Peachtree Rd NE
Suite 270
Atlanta, GA 30305
404.442.9316
Mon-Sat: 10:00AM-8:00PM
Sun: 12:00PM-6:00PM
Metro PCS
Located about 15 minutes from Oglethorpe
2484 Briarcliff Rd NE
Atlanta, GA
678.399.8604

Taxes

This information is official government-provided information from: Study in the States.

Tax season happens each spring in the United States. The IRS tax filing deadline is April 15th.

The US government requires anyone who has worked or studied as an F-1 student during the last calendar year (even if only for one day) to file certain documents.

If you had no income, then you owe no taxes; however, IRS Form 8843 is required.

Anyone who works in the United States must report income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This requirement includes F and M students. An F or M student must report all earned income during a program of study in the United States. If you worked or received any type of taxable scholarship, you must file File IRS form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR. If you filed form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR, you must also file Georgia form 500 with the State of Georgia.

This includes all of the following:

  • Income from wages
  • Reception of a grant, fellowship, or scholarship
  • Interest from stock options
  • Lottery or gambling winnings
  • Other types of non-wage income

If you are not eligible for a Social Security number but need to report income to the IRS, you can apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
For more information about the ITIN click here.
For more information about filing your taxes, visit the IRS website.

FAQs

A “tax form” simply reports information. If you had no income, then you owe no taxes. IRS Form 8843 is required. It primarily reports how many days you were physically present in the U.S. and is the only form you need to worry about to be in compliance.

A “tax return” is a set of forms used to report income, taxes already paid on that income or taxes still owed. A tax return determines if you paid too much. In that case, you get a “tax return,” aka tax refund. If you did not pay enough taxes, you will have a tax bill. Your country’s tax treaty may affect these amounts.

Ex: You are on OPT and received $2000 cash for a freelance job. You must report that income and pay taxes on it, the same as Americans do. Waiters and bar tenders, for example, earn most of their income in cash, so they usually have to pay a tax bill at the end of the year.

  • Wages are the most common type of income. The money withheld from each paycheck is an estimated tax pre-payment. This money is reported to the IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue under the employee’s tax identification number (Social Security number or ITIN).
  • Taxable scholarship payments may have some amount withheld just like wages. Scholarships for tuition and fees are not taxable, but scholarships for room, board, books… are taxable.
  • Investment income (not including bank interest) rarely has an amount withheld in advance; the applicable tax is paid when filing one’s tax returns.

No. April tax forms only report on the previous year, which ends December 31.

Yes. File form 8843 even if you were in the U.S. just one day last year and had no income.

Yes. You should if you have plans to ever return to the U.S. Ask your employer to mail your wage statement (form W-2) to you. The IRS can mail you a check outside the U.S if you are owed a refund.

Yes. You must file IRS Form 8843 to declare you had no income and to report the number of days you were in the U.S. Spouses and dependents in F-2 status must also file Form 8843.

Filing tax forms is not optional– it is required. One of the conditions of your visa is to comply with US law. If you never plan to enter the U.S again in your life, nothing will happen.

Applicants for permanent residency “green cards” or other visa types may be asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S. A failure to show you filed the correct forms would delay this process or make you seem unfavorable for another visa since you “failed to comply with US law”. If you owe taxes and do not file, the IRS can assess penalty and interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can be more than what you would have owed originally, effectively doubling your tax bill.

Travel

This information is official government provided information from: Study in the States.

If you are planning to travel for break, or even for leisure, there are some things you need to remember:

  • Always get approval from your designated school official (DSO) before you go. Your DSO will show approval by signing your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status,” which you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when you re-enter the United States.
  • For an F-1 student, DSO approval must be within one year of the date of your desired return.
  • Keep your DSO’s name and contact information with you while you travel in case you have any problems.
  • Ensure your passport and visa are valid before you leave. If not, update them before your return.
  • If you leave the United States, a CBP officer will conduct primary inspection when you return. The officer will ask for your reason for departure, reason for return, passport, visa and current Form I-20.

If you forget your documents, especially your Form I-20, CBP may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” You must submit the missing documents and Form I-515A to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program within 30 days or leave the United States. If you need help, talk to your DSO.

You may also want to bring the following documents with you:

  • Proof of financial support you showed to the U.S. embassy or consulate during your visa appointment
  • Evidence of acceptance to your school
  • Paper receipt from payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee

**Remember, never put your required documents in your checked luggage; always carry them with you in an easily accessible place.