Managing your finances is one of the most important and challenging aspects of an enjoyable academic experience. This section introduces you to a few of the basic banking options available. When selecting a bank, you should compare services, service charges and bank locations before making your decision.
When you open an account with a bank, most banks require two pieces of identification, such as your passport and GWU Student ID. Banks may also request to see your 1-20.
Two local banks located in Boiling Springs:
Bank Cards: Many banks issue cards that enable you to deposit and withdraw money 24 hours a day by use of an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). These machines, which are frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. By using a bank card, customers avoid waiting in line at the bank and have access to cash after the bank closes. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATM’s throughout the country. There is an ATM located on campus, in Tucker Student Center beside the post office. In some instances, there may be small fees associated with ATM use.
Cashing checks: To cash a check, you will need to endorse it by signing your name on the back. In addition, you will be asked for personal identification in the form of a driver’s license, a State ID or GWU ID card.
Some stores will cash a check for you if you shop there regularly. In addition, you can cash checks in our Student Account Office here on campus if it is for less than $100.
Checking Accounts: Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of checking varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge per transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. A list of all the account activity for the preceding month, and in some cases your cancelled checks, will be sent to you in a monthly statement. Be careful to keep an accurate record of every check you write in order to avoid having checks returned due to insufficient funds and incurring additional charges. “Bouncing” a check (writing a check for more money than you actually have in the account) is illegal and can cost you time and money. Through some banks, you can apply for a line of credit attached to your checking account that provides overdraft protection.
Savings Accounts: A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.
Credit cards may be convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You can pay expenses such as University and medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. You must understand that you can easily accumulate large bills with credit cards, and before you know it, you may be in debt. Before you accept a credit card, you must be sure to understand all your obligations. Most banks charge an annual fee. If you are unable to pay your full balance each month, you will be charged high interest rates (usually 18% or higher) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.
A debit card, also known as a check card, allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card. Some debit cards carry a credit-card logo (such as MasterCard or Visa), and can be used in place of a check or credit card. Debit cards are not credit cards, however, and they can be used only to the extent that you have funds in the account to which they are linked.
If you deposit a check drawn on a foreign bank in your U.S. checking account, it may have to go through a collection process. This means that the money is not available to you until the U.S. bank has collected it from the foreign bank. It may take several weeks before the money is credited to your account. In countries with restrictions on foreign exchange, you may need to provide your sponsor or your family with certification of enrollment in order to receive money from your home country. The application forms for letters of certification are available in GWU International Services. Please allow five working days for processing.
It is very important to keep certain documents like your immigration documents – passport, SEVIS I-20/DS- 2021, I-94, among others in a safe place. Also, keep all records of any immigration forms you might have completed during your stay in the United States (example is the Optional Practical Training). You should also keep copies of income tax returns, monthly bank statements; apartment rent payment, important correspondence, tuition payment receipts, registration statements, etc. as you may need these items at a later date. It is wise to a build a folder of these important documents at least throughout your stay in the United
States and perhaps a few more months after leaving the United States. Do not rely on the Office of International Student Services to provide you with copies of important documents. Keep these documents for your personal records.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a U.S. government institution that maintains a benefits program for injured, disabled, or retired people. The money for this program is obtained through withholding from employees’ pay and from employers’ contributions. The Social Security Administration issues a Social Security (SS) card which bears a number by which people within a Social Security system are identified. This number also serves as a major identification number for
U.S. citizens, permanent residents (“green card” holders,) and legal non-immigrants in the U.S.
As international students who will be pursuing your studies in the U.S. for a certain period of time, you are advised to obtain a Social Security number once you have found an on-campus employment. The ISS office will not provide you with a recommendation letter to the SS, unless you have a job. A Social Security number is only assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States. It is used to post wages to Social Security records so workers can become eligible for Social Security benefits. Social Security Administration will not issue you a card unless you have an on-campus employment.
This SS card is required for obtaining a driver’s license in North Carolina. Your GWU ID is not your Social Security number, but a University identification number that can only be used for school records. You may apply for a Social Security number and card at a Social Security office in your area. Visit the ISS to request a letter for a Social Security application if you are employed on-campus. This letter is required to be submitted with your passport and a completed Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security card) which you can obtain from the ISS. You will also be asked to present a form of photo identification.
Do You Plan to Work? An F-1/J-1 student is permitted under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to work on-campus for a maximum of twenty (20) hours per week. Since you are authorized to work on-campus, you are eligible for a Social Security Card once you have secured a job.
How to Apply for a Social Security Card: You must provide original documents showing your age, identity, F- 1 /J- l immigration status, and proof that your school has authorized you to work.
Age: Your passport will be sufficient for this.
Identity: The Social Security office must see a document that shows the name you want on your Social Security card. A recently issued document with a photograph, such as your passport or GWU ID Card will be adequate in proving your identity.
Immigration Status: Your F-1/J-1 visa, I-94 card issued to you when you arrived in the United States and the student copy of your I-20 /DS-2021, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F- 1/J-1) Student Status must be submitted.
Eligibility to Work: To obtain a Social Security number for work, you must have an on-campus, or Practical Training employment. You must provide SS Office with a letter from your present employer stating that you are enrolled in a full course of study and you need the SSN to complete your employment paperwork.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The Social Security office will not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
How Long Will It Take To Get A Social Security Number?The Social Security office must verify your documents with the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) before a number can be assigned to you. Social Security will issue your number and card within two days of receiving the verification from DHS. Most of the time, they can verify your documents quickly with DHS online. If your documents cannot be verified online, then it may take DHS several weeks or months to respond to Social Security’s request. This might take three (3) to six (6) weeks.
All non-resident aliens must file a Federal and a State income tax return for the preceding year, whether or not they worked, if they resided in the U.S. for some part of that year.
All income earned in the U.S. will have deductions for Federal and State income taxes withheld by the employer. This “withholding tax” is an estimate of the taxes due on what you earned. This amount will depend on the number of exemptions you claim on the W-4 form you fill out when you become employed. By law, international students are only permitted to claim either “O” or “1” exemption unless they are a married citizen of Canada, Japan, Mexico or South Korea.
Every employer is required to report each employee’s total earnings for the previous calendar year and the amount of taxes withheld for the worker. This report, called a W-2, is sent to the Federal government and to you by early February. Students who receive scholarships in excess of their educational costs, or earned wages exempt because of a tax treaty will also receive a 1042-S form. A copy of this form is sent to you and to the Federal government. These forms will be necessary to complete your State and Federal tax returns by April 15. If more has been withheld than what you owe, you will be sent a refund. If less has been withheld, you must pay the difference with your tax forms.
The amount of tax you owe to the U.S. and the State will be affected by: the amount you earn, your immigration status, the length of your residence in the U.S., your purpose for being here, your type of income, and your country of citizenship. The U.S. has a tax treaty with certain countries that exempts a portion of your earned income from U.S. taxes.
It is mandatory for all international students with athletic scholarships to pay taxes to the U.S. government on the monies received. At the beginning of each semester, athletes should receive information from the Athletic Department on the amount they owe the government based on scholarships received. Amounts therefore may vary, and if in doubt, contact the Athletic Department. If your country has a treaty with the United States, you may be reimbursed this tax money partially or fully. Contact your tax agency for more information