Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are international students allowed to work while in school?

    Students with F-1 visas are not allowed to work off-campus without special permission from Department of Homeland Security. However, a student can work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and can work on campus 40 hours per week during the school breaks and holidays. There is no guarantee that a student will find a job on campus since there are more students seeking jobs than there are job vacancies. It is the student’s responsibility to search for jobs on campus. Students should check with the Employment Resource Center for job vacancies after arriving at SAU.

  • As an ESL student, will I have access to the university facilities and services?

    Yes. Our ESL students enjoy the same rights as our regular students and have full access to all university facilities and services such as the gym, swimming pool, cafeteria, health services, library, and others.

  • Can ESL students work?

    Unfortunately, ESL students are not allowed to work. However, you will become eligible for on-campus employment as soon as you complete the program.

  • Can I apply for a student visa if I would like to take ESL classes at SAU?

    Absolutely. We will issue you an I-20 stating “Language Training” as your major, which you will take to your visa interview. Also, all our ESL students can be granted conditional admission to our undergraduate or graduate programs.

  • Can I apply if I don’t speak any English at all?

    Yes. We work with ESL students of all levels, from beginner to upper-intermediate or advanced.

  • Can international students apply for financial aid or scholarships?

    International students cannot apply for federal or state financial aid programs.

    However, SAU does offer three scholarships for first-time freshmen who are applying for the fall semester. The deadline for applying for these scholarships is March 15. We do not offer these scholarships for students starting in the spring semester. We also offer the retention scholarship which is available for students who have completed 15 credit hours at SAU.

    Graduate students can apply for a graduate assistantship, but the opportunities are very limited, so there is no guarantee that you will get one immediately upon your arrival.

  • Do international students have to submit English test scores for admission?

    If you are seeking immediate enrollment in an academic program then we do require English proficiency for most countries. However, there are a few exemptions to this requirement. Even if you studied at an institution that taught classes in English we still require proof of English proficiency. There are different English level requirements for undergraduates and graduates.

    If your English level does not meet the minimum requirements, you may want to consider SAU’s ESL program. The ESL program at SAU does not require English proficiency for admission.

  • Do you provide transportation for international students?

    SAU provides free transportation to and from Texarkana airport, bus, and train stations for international students at the beginning and end of each semesters as well as holiday breaks. We also have van available to take international students shopping around Magnolia on Fridays.

  • How can I pay the international student application fee?

    For the international student application fee, you can send a check payable to “Southern Arkansas University” to:

    SAU International Office
    P.O. Box 9224
    Magnolia, AR 71754-9224

    Or you can contact the business office, 870-235-4018, here at SAU to arrange payment by phone.

  • How do I apply to the ESL program?

    You can start the application process by completing our ESL application. We will get in touch with you shortly and walk you through the rest of it.

  • How do international students transfer credits from a former university abroad?

    If you want to transfer academic credits from a university abroad then you will need to ask your former university to send us an official transcript. You will also need an evaluation agency to assess your transcript.

    If you are transferring from another American school then you will need to get an official transcript sent to us, and you will need to have the transfer questionnaire completed.

    Once the transcript evaluation is completed, the academic deans will determine how many transfer credits you will get. If SAU does not have an equivalent course to the one you have taken then it will not transfer.

  • How many hours of ESL instruction per week do you offer?

    We offer 24 hours of instruction per week, which includes 18 contact hours and 6 laboratory hours.

  • How much does it cost to be an international student?

    Tuition is based on one full academic year, which includes fall and spring semesters. Approximate Cost of Attending includes tuition, room and board, and fees.

  • How much does the ESL program cost?

    Tuition in the ESL program is very affordable and is the same as for any other program at SAU. You are welcome to take a look at a detailed costs breakdown.

  • Is your ESL program officially part of Southern Arkansas University? Where is it located?

    SAU-ESL is part of Southern Arkansas University and is located on its campus.

  • What countries are your ESL students from?

    We have students from all corners of the world – Middle East, China, Latin America, Africa, etc.

  • What is the average number of students per ESL class?

    At this point, there are normally only up to 5 students per class.

  • What is the classroom size like?

    SAU maintains an average 17-to-1 student-teacher ratio with class sizes for lower level classes or general education classes unusually being around 30 to 35, though sometimes much smaller.  Class sizes drop significantly once you start your upper level classes with many ranging from 10 to 15 students.

  • What is the housing like on campus and do I have to live on-campus?

    We have several residency halls that are available for our students. Students can move off campus or into the University Village Apartments if they are older than 21 years old, or they have completed 60 credit hours.

  • When do you mail I-20′s for international students?

    Because visa interviews can only be scheduled 120 days before you start school, we usually mail out I-20’s so they arrive just before visa interviews start. This way it is less likely for someone to lose their I-20 before the interview.

    Using regular mail it usually take three to four weeks for your I-20 to reach you in another country. If you are in the US then it could take just a few days. Also, if you want express mail, which usually takes a week, there is a $50 charge. You can pay this by sending a check payable to “Southern Arkansas University” to:
    SAU International Office
    P.O. Box 9224
    Magnolia, AR 71754-9224
    Or you can contact the business office, 870-235-4018, here at SAU to arrange payment by phone.

  • Where do I get graduate school information if I am an International student?

    For graduate studies  information for international students, please visit our International Student Services website.

  • Why take ESL classes at SAU?

    Completing our ESL program will not only help you improve your English, but will also grant you a chance to enter any academic program at SAU without TOEFL or IELTS.