This resource is to help students and scholars plan for their expenses and arrange lodging and travel while they are in the United States. The information is provided for your convenience only. KSU does not recommend or guarantee any particular businesses or services.
If you are arriving by airplane, the nearest airport is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, airport code ATL. The airport is 28 miles (45 kilometers) from the Marietta campus and 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the Kennesaw campus. Logistical information for you regarding arrival, customs and immigration, and transportation from the airport is provided below.
Arriving directly to Atlanta from another country
You will arrive in the International Terminal of the airport. After leaving the plane, you will walk to the Customs and Border Protection and immigration process hall. You will need to show the officer your immigration documents (passport, visa, and I-20 or DS-2019.) Also be prepared to show your financial documentation. The officer may ask what your plans are in the US. Answer honestly. The officer will stamp your visa. The stamp indicates the date and place you entered the U.S. It will also indicate your status (F-1 or J-1) and allowed length of stay. Usually, the officer will write D/S on the stamp. This means you are allowed to stay in the US as long as you have your F or J status.
After you are finished with immigration, you will go to Baggage Claim. After you find your luggage, you will turn right to go to the arrivals hall. If you have family or friends meeting you at the airport, you will most likely meet them at the arrivals hall.
Follow the signs for Ground Transportation. There are various types of transportation services such as taxis, ride shares such as Uber and Lyft, and community shuttles. Costs can range from approximately $50-$100 for transportation. More information can be found on the airport website here. Please note that KSU does not endorse any particular transportation provider. Please do your due diligence regarding the companies prior to arranging transportation.
Arriving in Atlanta from another city in the U.S.
If you have a layover in another city in the U.S., most likely you will go through Customs in that city. Be sure you have your immigration documents (passport, visa, and I-20 or DS-2019) and funding information on hand. The officer may ask what your plans are in the US. Answer honestly. The officer will stamp your visa. The stamp indicates the date and place you entered the U.S. It will also indicate your status (F-1 or J-1) and allowed length of stay. Usually, the officer will write D/S on the stamp. This means you are allowed to stay in the US as long as you have your F or J status.
When you arrive in Atlanta, you will arrive in the domestic terminals of the airport. When you land, follow the signs to Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation. Usually, you will need to board the airport train to take you to Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation. When you get off the train, take the escalator up to Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation. All Delta Airlines flights have baggage claim areas in the South (red) baggage claim area. All other airlines are in the North (blue) baggage claim area.
If you have family or friends meeting you at the airport, they will meet you outside either the North or South terminal. If you are on a Delta flight, they should meet you outside baggage claim in the South terminal. If you are on any other flight, they should meet you outside the baggage claim in the North terminal.
If you plan to take a taxi, follow the signs for Ground Transportation. There are various types of transportation services such as taxis, ride shares such as Uber and Lyft, and community shuttles. Costs can range from approximately $50-$100 for transportation.More information can be found on the airport website here. Please note that KSU does not endorse any particular transportation provider. Please do your due diligence regarding the companies prior to arranging transportation.
Occasionally, a student or scholar may be asked to visit secondary inspections before they can be admitted to the U.S. If this happens, remain calm. Usually, secondary inspections are needed in order to clarify some piece of information regarding your record. This can normally be resolved quickly, but can sometimes take a while. Remain patient. Occasionally, the inspections officer may want to talk to an ISSSO advisor, sometimes called a P/DSO or A/RO. If it is during normal business hours (9am-5pm), we can be reached at 470-578-6336. If it is outside of normal business hours, call the KSU Police at 470-578-6666 and ask to speak to an ISSSO advisor. They will connect you with one of our staff.
Degree-seeking students at Kennesaw State University may apply to live in the on-campus residence halls, although it is not required. Please visit the KSU Housing website for more information. J-1 exchange students are assigned on campus housing, unless their exchange agreement does not require it. KSU currently does not offer any on-campus housing for IEP students, families, scholars or student interns.
There are several off-campus housing options in the area including hotels, extended stay hotels, apartments, homestays, and private rentals. When researching off-campus options, we suggest doing the following:
- Determine your budget.
- Refer to a map to see which options are near to campus. If you will not have a car, see if the accommodations are within walking distance of campus, or if a university bus or public transportation stop is nearby. Please note that the university buses do not operate when students are not in classes.
- Refer to an internet search engine for reviews and photos of the accommodations you are interested in.
- Determine whether you will want to be able to prepare meals in your accommodations.
- If you are bringing a spouse or child(ren), be sure that the cost of your accommodations is based on the family, not an individual guest. Also consider the educational system and location of schools nearby should you wish to enroll your children in school.
Hotel$50-$200 per dayUsually noSome offer a complimentary breakfast
Extended-Stay Hotel$60-$200 per day. Daily rates usually decrease as the length of stay increases.Usually yesSome offer a complimentary breakfast and local transportation
Dorm-Style ApartmentApprox. $30 per day, plus utilities such as electricity, trash, water, and internetYesFurniture, linens, and cooking supplies generally not included; usually rented per room in a suite with other students; 12 month contract usually required
ApartmentApprox. $30 per day, plus utilities such as electricity, trash, water, and internetYesFurniture, linens, and cooking supplies generally not included; 6-12 month contract usually required
HomestayApprox. $30 per dayDepends on host familySome meals are usually included. Scholar will be sharing a house with the host family. Location might not be within walking distance to campus or public transportation
Private Vacation RentalApprox. $20-$100 per day, depending on styleDepends on rentalUsually furnished Space might be shared. Read the details carefully!
Degree-seeking and exchange students living on campus are required to have a KSU meal plan. Please see the University Dining website for more information.
Students, scholars, and interns living off campus have a variety of options for meals during their stay.
- On-Campus Dining: Both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses offer dining facilities including an award-winning cafeteria and other restaurants. The approximate cost per meal is $10.00. Scholars can purchase a meal plan for the facilities, or can pay as they go. Please visit Dining Services for more details.
- Restaurants: Kennesaw and Marietta have restaurants featuring a variety of American and international cuisines. Many near the Kennesaw campus are accessible by walking or a university bus. The restaurants can be both sit-down and fast food. The average cost is $10-$20.
- Groceries: The local grocery stores include Walmart, Publix, and Kroger. The university buses
make stops at the local Walmarts on certain days of the week. Check the university bus routes for times and locations. Halal grocery stores and international markets are also
located in Kennesaw and the Atlanta area.
- Hotel Transportation: Some hotels offer local shuttles to shopping, restaurants, and etc., but many do not. Research whether this option is available at your hotel before booking your accommodations.
- University Transportation: KSU offers its students, faculty, and staff a free university bus system called B.O.B (Big Owl Bus). Additionally, KSU offers the Zipcar car-sharing and Zagster bicycle services. Please see the Parking and Transportation website for bus routes and more information about transportation options.
- Cars: Those at KSU for a longer period of time may wish to drive in the U.S. To do this, you will need a driver's license and car insurance. Please see our Driver's License webpage for information about obtaining a Georgia driver's license and about car insurance. If you wish to purchase a car, be sure to do research about the car's comparative value, and also review its history by looking up the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Ensure that you receive a title for the car to demonstrate ownership. Once you have purchased a car, you will also need to register the car at your County Tag Office and receive your new car license plate. You should expect to pay between $3,000 and $15,000 for a used car, plus car insurance and registration.
- Public Transportation: The Cobb County government operates a bus line called CobbLinc. Two buses stop at the Kennesaw campus, with other routes stopping nearby. Several other buses stop near the Marietta campus. Tickets are approximately $2.50 per ride, or $5 for the express bus. Click here for full details including schedules and routes. The MARTA also provides transportation closer to Atlanta via bus and train. Click here for the MARTA website.
- The acceptable currency is US Dollar. Other major currencies (the Euro and UK Pound) may be changed at the airport to the US Dollar. Estimate carefully how much you would need for your out-of-pocket expenses. Note that there is a limit to the amount of money that visitors are allowed to bring into the country.
- Most major credit cards are accepted. Some credit card companies charge an additional fee for each transaction conducted overseas. You may want to notify your credit card company of where and when you will be traveling to avoid receiving a fraud alert on your account. Debit cards may also be used, but check with your bank to confirm their fees and to identify any compatibility issues with United States ATMs.
- Students and scholars are eligible to open a bank account in the U.S. and receive a debit card. The required documentation to open an account may differ between banks. Requirements can include identification such as a passport and visa, proof of address in the U.S., and/or pay stub.
Average temperatures in the Atlanta area vary between approximately 4 degrees Celsius in the winter and 32 degrees Celsius in the peak of summer. The Atlanta area generally experiences very little snow in the winter, but the summers are generally humid. For the most accurate and current weather information visit www.weather.com.
Receiving international calls in your hotel room is free. Making direct international calls from your hotel room can be expensive. Instead, you can use international calling cards when making such calls. These cards are available locally and you will be able to purchase them upon your arrival. Follow the instructions on the cards to use them.
For mobile phones, SIM cards are available with several network carriers, which will give you a local U.S. phone number. However, you must first ensure that your phone is "international," meaning it is tri-band or quad-band and can work in the U.S. Also be sure to check if your phone will need to be unlocked before being able to use a new SIM card in the U.S.
The United States offers a variety of childcare and school options for children of visiting scholars. The Georgia Department of Education provides information about school options for elementary, middle, and high school-aged children that you can find here. We have also included a general summary below. Be sure to research the options well before making a choice.
- Day Care: Usually for young children, day care is a childcare option for working parents or parents who need to complete activities without their children. Day cares are privately run and offer childcare from approximately 7am to 6pm. Parents can often choose how many days or hours they would like for their children to be in day care. In the U.S., day cares can be expensive.
- Preschool: Preschool is usually for children ages 3-5. Preschool is generally more structured than day care, but is available for fewer hours per day than day care.
- Public School: Public schools are available to all families, but students are assigned a school according to the area their family lives in. If you would like to place your child(ren) in a public school, be sure to research the school district and assigned schools for a particular area before choosing your accommodations. While public school is "free," there are some costs, which can include lunch, school supplies, and other miscellaneous fees and expenses.
- Private School: There are a variety of private schools. The schools can be secular or religion-based. Private school tuition can vary from a few thousand dollars to $20,000 per year. Private schools generally have admission standards.
While a specified amount of funding is required for an I-20 or DS-2019, students and scholars should consider their preferences and budget enough money for their expenses accordingly. Below are examples of miscellaneous expenses with an estimated cost.
Taxi/Rideshare to Atlanta$20-$30
Taxi/Rideshare to the Airport$50-$100
Weekend Car Rental$120
Meal at Restaurant$10-$20
Cup of Coffee or Tea at Cafe$6
U.S. Cell Phone Plan$40-$150 per month
Toiletries (shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc.)$5-10 each