Application Checklist for International Students

Planning your finances

In addition to knowing your school costs, you should plan for each year by budgeting your money. A budget can help you properly manage your finances so you can afford to complete your college education without difficulty. 

Creating a Personal Budget

Creating a personal budget is not difficult. The first step is to determining your monthly income and then plan ahead of time how you will spend it.  This helps you stay on track and reduce unnecessary expenditures and better anticipate your monetary needs. You’ll be learning one of life’s important lessons: how to make the best of your financial resources. To begin, you’ll need to do the following:

1. Calculate your monthly income.
2. Calculate your anticipated expenses.
3. Determine what amount is left.

If you’re not sure how to begin developing a monthly budget, use the link below to access a worksheet that will help you get started with this project.

The "Budgeting While in School Worksheet" (PDF format) includes some of the main income categories, as well as the common categories of expenses you’ll need to consider. There may be other income and/or expense categories that are unique to your situation, so be sure to include these when creating your budget.

Calculating your annual expenses

If you don't have much experience in developing a budget, and are unsure of typical local costs for items such as housing, look at the International Student Expense Estimate available in the Admissions Office. 

Reducing Your Expenses

The single best way to save money is to reduce your expenses.  If you have a lot of expenses, explore ways to stretch your money. Little things like buying individual bottles of soft drinks, coffee, and other "munchies" can really add up.   Of course, you will have certain expenses you may not be able to contain; for example you may not have control over your school tuition costs. There are many expenses that are directly controllable. Consider the following ways to reduce your expenses:

  • Purchase used books instead of new books (making sure the version of the book is the same one the professor ordered for class).

  • Take advantage of special travel fares and look on the internet on places like especially when traveling to and from school.

  • Make long distance calls sparingly.  Use to save money. 

  • If you are living off-campus and are not commuting from home, look for affordable housing, and consider having one or more roommates to help share the cost.

  • Be aware of the more expensive food items (for example: frozen food meals, gourmet coffee, muffins, ice cream cones, restaurant meals) and work to keep them at a minimum.

  • Learn to shop economically for clothes. Watching for sales and buying only what you need and can afford will help you maintain a manageable clothing budget.

  • Rely on cash rather than credit cards for purchases.  Credit cards often have high interest rates that will make your purchase cost a lot more in the long run, especially if you only pay the minimum monthly payments.

  • If you live off campus, buy no-brand and no-name groceries. 

  • Keep your heat turned down and minimize your use of air-conditioning, especially if you're not at home. If you pay for water, make sure none of your sinks leak.

These are just some examples of ways to reduce expenses and stretch your money further. There are many other ways you can reduce expenses. Spend some time thinking about your individual situation and ways that you might be able to stretch your money even further. Consider sharing budgeting ideas with family and trusted friends who have demonstrated their ability to wisely manage money.

Remember, do not borrow more money than you can afford to borrow.  A good guideline is to not borrow more than 8% of your first year's minimum annual income.


If you are working, no matter how little you have to save, you should set aside something every month. As little as $5 a month will get you into the savings habit, help you succeed financially later on in life, and provide you with a cushion should unexpected needs arise.

Transportation Expenses

Even if you buy a car, you can ease your budget by using public transportation occasionally. Don’t forget to add gas, maintenance, insurance and parking fees to your transportation expense. Especially if you travel to downtown Chicago, parking can cost $10 to $25 for a day of parking.  Insurance payments, though they may be assessed annually, or semi-annually, should be divided for a monthly expense figure

Entertainment expenses

Entertainment costs can really wreak havoc on your budget when you don’t have a plan. Keeping a week-to-week record of entertainment expenditures will help you gauge whether you are spending more on entertainment than you realize or would like.  Take advantage of opportunities for entertainment offered on campus like on campus movies, special events, excursions, and the rec center.

Health and Medical

Planning for the unexpected is a good idea when it comes to the health and medical expenses. Set aside a budgeted monthly amount to cover insurance co-payments and any other costs not cover by your health insurance company.

Requirements for Opening Accounts

All banks have different requirements for opening accounts. However, all banking institutions require a picture identification (e.g. Driver’s License, State I.D. or Passport), social security number, and proof of a local address.*  You should call or stop in the bank to obtain specific requirements for that bank.

*Note:  Items that can be considered as proof of a local address:

  • Utility bills (water, gas, and electricity)
  • Tuition bill
  • Telephone bill
  • Credit card bill

The Office of International Student Services (ISS) can assist you with opening a bank account. You can contact the office for an appointment by calling extension 5549.

Credit Cards

Your bank or another bank may offer you a credit card.  It may (or may not) accept your application for a credit card, based on your credit history , i.e. your history of bill-payment and bank accounts. 

Credit cards are very convenient, because you can charge items and pay later. However, credit cards can be very troublesome because you have to pay later! Some people get into trouble because they charge items freely, and then cannot repay the entire amount at the end of the month. For each month a balance (i.e. unpaid amount) is kept, interest is charged. Shop for a low-interest credit card (9-13%), and use it only when truly necessary. Beware of credit card offers that have a low interest rate (e.g. 6%) for a few months, which changes to a high interest rate (e.g. 18-20%).

Consumer Debt

The cost of borrowing on credit cards in high–often 18% or more in interest plus any annual fees. Avoid excessive and frequent use of your credit card to keep monthly payments low. Cut up all but one credit card, and use it only for emergencies. Keep an accurate record of all debt, and pay it off as soon as possible.

Debit Cards

A debit card may be offered by your bank or credit union. You may use it instead of cash to pay for items; the cost of the item is taken directly out of your bank account, with no charge to you. This may be more convenient than carrying cash or writing checks. Just be sure to deduct the amount from your check register. Many grocery store, drug stores, etc. in the area permit the use of a debit card.

Important Note: It is not advisable to carry large amounts of money with you or keep it in your room or apartment. Also, if you have any valuable items such as jewelry that could be stolen, you should rent a safe deposit box at a bank.

Banks and other Financial Institutions  in the Romeoville Area

50 Phelps Avenue
Romeoville, IL
(815) 886-9595
24 hour information:  1-(888) 963-4000

Chase Romeoville
435 N Weber Rd
Romeoville, IL
(815) 293-3531

Harris Bank
626 Townhall Rd
Romeoville, IL
(815) 886-1900

Harris Bank
80 S. Weber Road
Romeoville, IL

West Suburban Bank
505 N Weber Rd
Romeoville, IL
(630) 652-2000

Marquette Bank
1876 W Airport Rd
Romeoville, IL
(815) 609-2555