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Arrival & Welcome Guide

Congratulations upon your acceptance to Southeast Missouri State University!

The Office of International Education and Services has provided this Arrival Guide to help you prepare for your studies at our campus in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Please use this guide to learn more about the important steps before arriving, including:

Learn About Cape Girardeau
Obtaining a Visa
Orientation Information
Health Insurance Requirement
Travel Arrangements
Housing Options
Money Management
Southeast (SE) Key Activation
Course Enrollment
Transfer of Credit

About Cape Girardeau Back to Top

Cape Girardeau, also called ‘Cape’ by the locals, is the home of Southeast Missouri State University. It is located on the Mississippi River in the Midwestern region of the United States about 120 miles (200 km) south of St. Louis.

City Population ~38,000 people
County Population ~77,000 people
Average winter temperature 33F (0 C), range from -10F to 50F (-23C to 10C)
Average summer temperature 80F (27C), range from 70F to 103F (21C to 39C)
Student Population ~12,000 students, including over 1000 international, 10,000 undergraduate, 1,200 graduate

For more information about our area, we recommend visiting the following websites:

If you have additional questions contact us at international@semo.eduor at +1 (573) 986-6863.


Obtaining a Visa Back to Top

If you are applying to be a student or scholar from outside the United States, and you are not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you will be required to obtain the appropriate visa:

I-20 Form

F-1 Student Visa


J-1 Exchange Student Visa

Visa application packets may be obtained from the U. S. Consulate nearest to you, or online . As a student, you will be required to pay two fees:

  • I-901 Fee (SEVIS support fee): You are required to pay this fee prior to your visa appointment here . More information about the I-901 fee can be found here.
  • Visa application fee: Please check with the U. S Consulate nearest you because these vary by country. All visa applicants must have a personal interview at the U.S. Consulate. Based on your country, it may take time to be assigned an interview date. You should plan ahead and begin your visa process at least 2 months in advance of your start date at Southeast Missouri State University.

In order to secure a visa, you will need to provide various supporting documents with your visa application. Please read all the documents and instructions carefully. Contact the U. S. Consulate with any questions regarding your visa application.

Checklist for your non-immigrant visa application:

  • Your letter of acceptance to Southeast Missouri State University
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Proof of payment of SEVIS support fee (I-901)
  • A valid passport (at least 6 months into the future)
  • Evidence of financial support for the period of time specified in your Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Form DS-0156, Non –immigrant Visa Application with any other documents requested including:
    • Evidence of language proficiency (IELTS, TOEFL, SAT)
    • Previous school/academic records
    • Sponsor’s statement and salary information
    • Scholarship award letter(s)
    • Evidence of strong ties to your home country (intent to return)

If you have been approved for a visa, be sure to carry your I-20, acceptance letter and passport with you when traveling - do NOT place these documents in your checked luggage!

If you have been denied a visa, respectfully ask for the reason in writing. Sometimes it is common to be refused the first few times. In these cases, gentle and polite persistence may be successful. Do not be rude or argumentative with the consular official, as this will be counterproductive.

International First Step (Orientation) Information Back to Top

All new international students are required to attend an orientation program specifically designed to help with adjusting to the expectations at Southeast. The cost of $150 will be charged to your student account upon your arrival. (If you have previously attended Southeast, you are exempt from orientation).

Student Type Orientation
Intensive English Program (IEP) students IEP Orientation
Undergraduate, graduate & exchange students International First Step

Please refer to your acceptance letter to find your orientation assignment and dates.

Our orientation sessions are designed to address your immediate needs, as well as prepare you for your first semester at Southeast. Sessions may include (but are not limited to):

Snacks or meals during program activities
Introduction to our office staff
Academic expectations, classroom life, culture in the U.S.
Placement tests to determine proper class assignment
Academic advising and class enrollment processes 

• Assistance with off-campus housing
Student billing processes and important financial deadlines
• Involvment in campus life and student organizations
Assistance with shopping for immediate necessities
• Assistance in opening a local bank account
• Regulations and processes for on-campus jobs
Tour of the main Southeast campus and surrounding city area

• Your student visa -- rights and responsibilities
Social events to get to know both American and international students

Health Insurance Requirement Back to Top

Due to the increased cost of healthcare in the U.S. and limited policy acceptance, the University requires international students to purchase insurance through Southeast. Health insurance is billed twice per year; coverage extends from August to December and January to August.  (IEP students arriving in March, June or October are charged a pro-rated amount.)  Continuing students are re-billed each fall and spring semester.  (Note: Spring charges automatically include mandatory summer coverage.)Although your policy will be effective at the start of the academic term, the cost is normally billed during the 2nd week of your classes, so it will not appear until your SECOND billing statement. An insurance policy brochure has been included for your review. Please bring the completed immunization record sheet with you - this must be submitted to receive medical treatment.

Exchange students and students sponsored by government or universities may be exempt from this policy if they can provide evidence of coverage equal to or greater to the policy through Southeast. Proof of insurance coverage limits must be provided to the Office of International Education and Services no later than the first day of classes or you will be automatically billed for the university policy.

Travel Arrangements Back to Top

After you have secured your visa, you should make your travel plans to come to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This includes both air and ground transportation. The earlier you can make your travel plans, the easier your journey should be.

Please refer to the Recommended Arrival Dates in your acceptance letter when making your travel plans! Although you are permitted to arrive in the US as early as 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your I-20, we do NOT recommend that you arrive in Cape earlier than suggested because services are limited prior to the official arrival dates.

Option #1: Fly to St. Louis, Missouri (STL) and Take Shuttle to Cape Girardeau

Arriving on Recommended Date (preferred) Arriving on any other date
Request university pickup via Arrival Form**
$70 USD charged to student account (due with tuition)
(additional $50 for each non-student coming with you)
Arrivals after 5 pm may be required to stay overnight in a St. Louis hotel
(additional cost: $35-45 USD)
Arrange your own transportation
  • If you are arriving to the St. Louis Lambert Airport, you may schedule pick-up via BART Shuttle service at, which costs $70. You should submit a reservation form for pick-up service at least 3 days before arrival or else you may not be picked up. If your flight is delayed or rescheduled, or if you are not in the specified waiting area, BART Shuttle will assess additional charges for new pick-up arrangements. Avoid taxi/cab service from St. Louis, as the average cost is $250-$300 for one-way travel.
  • If you are arriving to the Cape Girardeau airport, taxi service to Southeast Missouri State University costs under $20, but taxi pick-up service must be planned in advance -- visit the CTA website to schedule airport pick-up from the Cape Girardeau airport. You can also choose to use CarGO.

Option #2: Fly to Cape Girardeau (airport code CGI) through Chicago, IL (ORD)

Arriving on Recommended Date (preferred) Arriving on any other date
Book connecting flight & request university pickup via Arrival Form**
$25 for pickup from Cape airport (due with tuition)
Book connecting flight & request university pickup via Arrival Form**
$25 for pickup from Cape airport (due with tuition)

**Arrival Form Must Be Submitted at Least 2 Weeks Before Your Arrival

Once your travel is confirmed, please complete our Arrival Information Form. ALL students should complete the Arrival Information Form, but using our pickup services is OPTIONAL. Please avoid using taxi/cab service from St. Louis as the average cost is $250-300 for one-way travel! Taxi service in Cape must be planned in advance.

Upon your arrival in the U.S., the border official will want to see your passport, acceptance letter to the university, and Form I-20 or DS2019 to check for the validity of these documents.  Please note that due to new processes, most students will be referred to secondary inspection. Upon approval, s/he will stamp your passport ONLY with the appropriate status of your arrival (F-1 or J-1).  Keep your passport and I-20 or DS2019 and in a safe place.  If your visa was issued for another school, carry both I-20s with you, but show your Southeast I-20 when entering. If asked, politely explain that you prefer to attend Southeast.

Housing Options Back to Top

Once your travel plans are confirmed, you should consider your housing choices. There are two type of housing: on-campus and off-campus. Both require you to sign a contract and submit a deposit, so consider your options carefully before signing any documents.

Southeast requires all students under age 21 to live in the residence halls for two academic years. Research shows that students who live on-campus have higher GPAs, are more socially connected, and save valuable time by not commuting as compared to off-campus students. However, if you meet one of the following criteria, you may apply for an exemption using the Application Residency Release Form.

  • Are living with lineal relatives (parent, grandparent) or legal guardian and commuting from their residence within a reasonable distance (50 miles) of Cape Girardeau.
  • Are 21 years of age by the beginning of the semester for which they are enrolled?
  • Are a military veteran.
  • Have completed at least 57 credit hours, which are accepted by the University towards earning a degree from Southeast.
  • Are married and/or have dependent children in residence.
  • Have lived in University housing at Southeast for two years (four semesters, not including summers).

If you are under 21 and answered NO to these questions, you must live on-campus. Students who live off-campus without permission will be charged full on-campus housing costs. New freshmen who complete 30 degree hours, have a 3.25 GPA and are in good judicial standing may be permitted to move off-campus after one academic year on campus. More information about this Sophomore Exemption is available from the Office of Residence Life.

On-Campus Housing

Housing options include two styles: community and suite-style. All on-campus housing contracts must include meal service. Each plan includes a certain number of meals each week plus Flex Dollars, additional money for extra items during the semester. Meals can be used at specific times for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but the Flex Dollars can be used any time the cafeterias are open. Most international students select the 10 Meals per Week + $80 Flex plan. Confusing? Don't worry-you can also contact Residence Life to change your plan during the first two weeks of the semester if you decide you need more/less meals.

Your I-20 lists estimated expenses for students who live in Cheney Hall with a 10 Meals per Week + $80 Flex plan. However, your costs will vary based upon your preferences and building availability. Please refer to the Residence Life Choices brochure in your acceptance packet for more information on building choices, meal plan information and cost details. To complete your contract and deposit online, visit Office of Residence Life at:

Off-Campus Housing

If you are eligible to live off-campus, you will have the option of renting an apartment or house near the campus. Some places will be furnished, which means they include basic furniture and kitchen appliances. Most places, however, will be unfurnished, and you will need to buy these items yourself. Also, it is generally cheaper to live with roommates than to live alone because you can divide the expenses between all occupants.

Because off-campus housing is a complex process, you should wait to find housing until you arrive. Student volunteers will be available to help you find and secure off-campus housing during the Recommended Arrival Dates in your acceptance letter.

Money Management Back to Top

We advise that you carry the least amount of cash needed to reduce the risk of loss or theft. Though needs can vary widely, we advise that most students plan to bring at least $500.00 USD in cash to cover meals and other immediate expenses. The exact amount you will need depends on how long your trip is, how early you arrive and other related expenses. During orientation, we can assist you in opening an account with the bank located on-campus. It is easier to transfer funds between your home bank account and your new account in the U.S.

New students should expect to pay their tuition and housing on a semester-by-semester basis. Tuition and housing costs are typically due the Friday of the first week of classes. (Exchange or graduate students who enroll prior to arrival may incur a bill at an earlier date.) For a small fee, you may choose to sign up for our payment plan, allowing you to pay your charges in two, three or four installments, if needed. For all payment options, including international wire payments with peerTransfer, visit Student Financial Services here.

Southeast (SE) Key Activation Back to Top

Following the enclosed instructions, activate your SE Key so you can receive important emails from Southeast between now and your arrival date. Remember to save your SE Key and password so that you can be in contact with your office.

Course Enrollment Back to Top

During IEP Orientation, Intensive English Program (IEP) students take English language skills placement to determine individual skill levels. The IEP office will enroll you and provide your schedule near the end of the orientation program.

During International First Step, Undergraduate students complete math and English placement testing before attending the academic advising session. Students with transfer credit for math and/or English or official SAT scores may be exempt from testing.  New high school graduates MUST submit official graduation confirmation before enrolling in classes.

Graduate students and non-degree seeking students (exchange) students may enroll after admission to the University and consulting the assigned advisor stated in your admission letter. You are still required to attend orientation, but may be exempt from select sessions.

Transfer of Credit Back to Top

After acceptance, transfer credits are evaluated by the Office of the Registrar. You may not enroll in your courses until the required documents**have been evaluated by their office.

A/As Level Exams College/University courses
**Submit original certificate(s) for review **Submit original transcripts/marksheets. If your school does not provide additional copies, university-attested copies will be accepted.
For college courses outside the U.S., certified English translations of the course syllabus/description for each course is required.

If the original copies and/or English course descriptions were not included with your application, you must submit these as soon as possible. The Registrar's Office will email your Southeast email account (SE Key) when your file is reviewed. Therefore, it is important that you check your new SE email regularly as to avoid any unnecessary delays with your transfer credit or course enrollment.


International Village Admin Building 101 – Located at:
1025 N. Sprigg St.
Cape Girardeau, MO

International Education and Services
One University Plaza, MS2000
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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