Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is for the ELI’s Intensive English Program. If you have questions about other ELI programs, see the Other Programs page for more information or contact the ELI at

Enrollment / Application

How much is the application fee?

The non-refundable application fee is $50 USD. The fee can be paid by money order, personal check (bank draft) or online and by fax with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover). Students can pay by bank wire.

How do I apply?

The easiest way is to apply online. You can also complete a paper application form and submit it via email to Both can be done here.

What do I need to apply?

  1. Completed application form
  2. Financial support document: A document showing that your sponsor has the minimum tuition amount available for each 8 week session.
  3. Immunization Form: All new students, regardless of classification, must have:
    1. Proof of the meningitis vaccination (Menactra, Menveo or Menomune) within the last 5 years.
    2. If you were born after 1956, proof of two (2) measles containing vaccinations. One of these vaccines must be an MMR vaccination after 1980.
    3. Proof of tuberculosis skin test within the last year.
  4. Copy of the passport photo/identification page(s)
  5. $50 USD non-refundable application payment
  6. $250 USD required tuition deposit
  7. $50 USD optional express mail fee: You have the option of paying an additional fee to receive your I-20 by UPS express mail.

How old must a student be to enroll in the ELI?

The minimum age for attending the ELI is 17. Students registering for the ELI must be 17 years of age prior to the beginning of their first session in order to enroll.

What do I need to do if I want to transfer from another school?

Submit the required documents (What do I need to apply?). We will send you an ELI transfer-in form to be completed by your current international advisor (DSO).

Go to your current international advisor (DSO) and request to transfer. Send us the completed transfer-in form. If accepted, we will send to you the acceptance letter. Make sure you give the acceptance letter to your current international advisor to complete the transfer request. You may pick up your new I-20 at the UA ISS office when you arrive for the new session.

How long does it take to get an I-20?

As soon as we receive all of the required documents, it typically takes us two to three business days to produce the I-20. Depending on what you have requested, we will either send you the documents via regular mail or express mail (UPS). The documents should typically reach you in no more than one week using the express mail service.

How do I get a visa?

If you are applying for an F-1 student visa, make sure you receive your Form I-20 from the ELI office. You should also receive an acceptance letter from us stating that you have been admitted to our institution. You must pay a SEVIS fee and fill our other visa application forms prior to your visa interview. Go to the SEVIS I-901 fee processing website to pay for your SEVIS fee. Complete the DS-160 application, pay the visa application fee, and schedule an interview with the US embassy/consulate near you. For more detailed information, go to the website:

Do you offer any scholarships?

The ELI offers scholarships for new, incoming students and current full-time ELI students. Incoming students can participate in the Sqore Scholarship challenge here. Current full-time ELI students have the opportunity to apply for merit-based scholarships (50% tuition) every session. For more detailed information on both opportunities, click here.

How can I pay for tuition?

Tuition can be paid by bank transfer or debit/credit card using Flywire at Flywire payments should include required fees only; they should not include personal funds. Students can also pay by money order, cash, personal check (bank draft), or with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover).

How can I pay using Flywire?

The University of Alabama has partnered with FlyWire (formerly known as peerTransfer) in order to streamline the process for International student payments. FlyWire allows students to pay securely from any country and bank, generally in the student’s home currency.

FlyWire allows international students to:

  • Track payments from start to finish
  • Pay from any country and and bank
  • Save on bank fees and exchange rates
  • Receive peace of mind with dedicated multilingual customer support

To get started, visit

How do I bring my family with me to the ELI?

If you plan to bring family members with you, please provide the following information: full name / date of birth / place of birth / relationship to student. Include this information with your application. Send a copy of each family member’s passport detail page. Make sure that the bank statement increases by $634 per session attended for each family member accompanying the student.

What do I need to submit if my school or company is sponsoring me?

Your school or company must send a letter of support on company/school letterhead, and signed by the director or business owner, indicating that the company/school will financially support your study at the ELI.

What is the deadline for applying?

The English + Business program application deadline is approximately six weeks before the program start date. The Intensive English program typically accepts applications no later than one month before the start of the new session.

Does the ELI change its pricing?

Pricing usually changes at the end of the academic year. Pricing for the following academic year typically takes place at the end of June of every year. Any price increase is nominal (1-2%). Prices are effective at the beginning of every Fall 1 session.


How do I get from the airport to the ELI?

Most students choose to arrive in Alabama through the Birmingham Airport (BHM), which is the closest airport to Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama (one hour by car). There are three types of pick-up services from the Birmingham Airport:

ELI PICK-UP SERVICE (official arrival days only–see purple sheet sent with arrival information for dates)

Times: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on each official arrival day
Cost: $30 per person
Meeting Place: Baggage claim area (1st floor of the airport)

You will be taken to the Super 8 Hotel in Tuscaloosa or, if possible, to your assigned residence hall (students must have applied for and received a housing assignment and arrive in Tuscaloosa before 7:00 p.m.).


Birmingham Door-to-Door operates a shuttle service from the Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa. Students who do not arrive on the official ELI arrival days can use this service. Reservations are required and can be made at The shuttle (van) is located just outside the baggage claim area of the Birmingham Airport, and it is very easy to find. The words “Shuttle Service” are clearly written on the side of the van. The service is available Monday – Sunday and all fees must be paid in full by cash or credit card. Travel from the Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa (any location) or from Tuscaloosa (any location) to the Birmingham Airport is $80 (plus tip). Important: If you make a reservation and your travel plans change, you should notify Birmingham Door-to-Door as soon as possible (telephone 888-349-1544 or 205-591-5550). You can make reservations starting at 4 A.M., up until 10 P.M.


Although it is more expensive than the shuttle service, taxi service is also available from the Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa. The cost is approximately $100-120 (plus tip). Taxis are normally waiting outside the baggage claim area of the airport. You should ask the driver for the price and agree to the price before you get in the taxi.

What should I do if I arrive at the airport/bus station/train station and no one is here to pick me up?

If problems occur while traveling and your arrival time changes, please call the ELI office at (205) 348-7413 as soon as possible. If the office is closed, call the ELI cell phone at (205) 454-8066. A card with the ELI phone and fax numbers is enclosed with your arrival information; please keep this card with you as you travel.

If you need to stay in Birmingham overnight, you may wish to stay at one of the following hotels located near the airport. All of these hotels provide free transportation to and from the Birmingham Airport. There are free courtesy telephones located near the baggage claim area so that you can call the hotel to ask for the free shuttle service.

Holiday Inn Airport/Birmingham
5000 10th Avenue, North
Birmingham, Alabama 35212
Phone: (205) 591-6900
Cost: Approximately $100

The Ramada Inn Airport Hotel
Airport Highway
Birmingham, Alabama 35212
Phone: (205) 591-7900
Cost: Approximately $100

Super 8 Hotel in Tuscaloosa
Some ELI students stay at the Super 8 Hotel for 1 or 2 nights when they first arrive in Tuscaloosa. If you stay at the Super 8, an ELI representative will meet you in the hotel lobby at 7:45 AM on the first day of the session to take you to the ELI. After you arrive on campus, you will take the ELI Placement Exam that morning. In the afternoon we will assist you with on-campus housing and take you shopping.

Super 8 Hotel (located near McFarland Mall)
4125 McFarland Boulevard East
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35405
Phone: (205)758-8878
Cost: approximately $40 per night (plus tax)


How can I find housing?

Students at the English Language Institute are eligible to live in the same on-campus housing that is available to all students at UA. Information and applications for UA housing can be found at We strongly recommend that you complete the housing application before you arrive, although you may still live in on-campus housing if you do not apply before arriving at UA. Be prepared to have other accommodations while your housing assignment is being processed.

Off-campus housing is available. The ELI does not provide services to find accommodations. However, you can find more information on

How will I pay for my housing?

On-campus housing is included in the tuition payment. You will have to complete a housing application online and submit a housing deposit. During the Fall and Spring sessions, a housing deposit of $300 ($275 deposit + $25 non-refundable fee) is required to complete the housing application. During the Summer sessions, the housing deposit is $100 ($75 deposit + $25 non-refundable fee). If you choose to live off-campus, most apartments will require you to sign a lease and full payment of rent by check or money order before or on the due date of each month. You may be charged a late payment if you do not pay on time. Some apartments will take credit card payments.

What is my address? My family wants to send me a package.

You will need to establish a local mailing address (post office box or residence address) after you arrive. There is a branch of the U.S. Postal Service located in the Ferguson Student Center on campus. For more detailed information, go to the website:

What do I need to bring?

In addition to the funds you bring with you for your required expenses, we suggest that you have access to at least $300 more to cover the cost of one or two nights in a hotel (approximately $40 per night) and other personal items that you may need.

You should plan to bring pillow and pillowcase, blanket, sheets for a twin (single) bed, soap and shampoo, towels and washcloths with you or buy them in Tuscaloosa after you arrive. You will have an opportunity to go shopping during the check-in process.

What is the temperature like in Tuscaloosa?

Tuscaloosa has a warm, temperate climate. The list below shows average temperature ranges in Celsius:

  • Summer (June-August): 20° – 38°
  • Fall (September-November): 10° – 30°
  • Winter (December-February): 0° – 20°
  • Spring (March-May): 5° – 27°

Cool, lightweight clothing is needed for summer, although when you are inside you may need a sweater because almost all buildings use air-conditioning. Sweaters and jackets are occasionally needed in the fall and spring, and a heavy coat will be necessary in the winter. Student clothing is casual; it is common for both men and women to wear blue jeans to class.

Can I cook my own food in the dorms?

You may choose to prepare some or all of your own meals. If you live on campus, your access to kitchen facilities will be determined by your housing assignment. A supermarket is located near campus (walking distance) and UA offers weekly shuttle service to a local shopping center.

Do you have home stay families?

We currently do not have homestay families at this time.

How do I sign up for a meal plan?

You may choose to purchase a meal plan or simply pay for your meals on a daily basis. Be aware of the terms of any meal plan that you may consider purchasing. Campus meal plans are available through Bama Dining. During orientation, you will be able to purchase a meal plan.


Where can I get my ACTion card?

The ACTion card is your school identification card and is your key to accessing essential campus services. You will be required to show an official government-issued photo ID when you pick up your card. You can pick up your Action Card at the Action Card office:

451 Campus Dr. East
Box 870355/Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
205.348.2288 or toll free 800.474.2288 Fax: 205.348.7900
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (all University holidays are observed)

Do you provide health insurance?

The ELI requires students to purchase health insurance. Insurance packets will be distributed to you on registration day. If you are sick and need to visit the student health center, you must present your ACTion card and your insurance identification card.

Click here for an overview of the US healthcare system for international students.

Can I smoke on campus?

Effective January 1, 2015, The University of Alabama is a smoke-free campus. Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is prohibited in all facilities, grounds and parking areas on the UA campus.

Do I need to buy a computer?

You do not have to buy a computer. There are computer workstations located throughout campus (computer labs and libraries). However, if you choose to have the convenience of a laptop, UA has free wireless internet throughout the campus. There are several locations off-campus that offer free wireless internet including restaurants, cafes, and public libraries.

Is there Wi-Fi access on campus?

You can find wireless network access in many areas across campus. You can find more information on setting up your wireless connection here.

How can I meet American students?

There are many ways where you can meet people and practice your English skills. The ELI hosts many activities during the session. The UA campus also host cultural activities, sports, and clubs where you can spend time learning about American culture. There are several organizations on campus that have coffee hour where you can also meet people and speak English. A class that you can take called “Culturally Speaking” and a program called “First Friends” allows ELI students to communicate and learn from current UA students. You can learn more about these programs and activities during orientation.

Where can I open a bank account?

Students have several choices where to open a bank account. Many students open bank accounts at the Alabama Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Compass Bank BBVA, and Regence Bank. All of the mentioned banks are conveniently located on or near campus.

We advise students to get a check card or debit card that can be used at ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) in the U.S. This will give you easy access to your funds without having to bring large amounts of cash with you. If you choose to open a bank account after you arrive in Tuscaloosa, your family will be able to transfer money directly to your account by bank wire.

Where can I get a SIM card for my phone?

SIM cards can typically be found at retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy. You can also find SIM cards at the smaller phone stores such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

Will I receive an email address from the school?

You will receive a school email address through your myBama account. MyBama is UA’s portal that provides secure access to email, course information, campus news, and announcements.

ELI classes

When can I start my English program?

The ELI has 6 sessions starting in January (Spring 1), March (Spring 2), May (Summer 1), June (Summer 2), August (Summer 1), and October (Fall 2).

Spring 1, Spring 2, Fall 1, and Fall 2 sessions are 8 weeks long. Summer 1 and Summer 2 sessions are 6 weeks long.

How will I know which level of English to start?

During testing and orientation day, you will take placement exams for reading, writing, structure (grammar), speaking, and listening. You will be placed in a level according to the score you receive for each skill.

What classes should I take at the ELI?

Full-time students must take 20 hours of class. Reading/Writing is 9 hours/week, Speaking/Listening is 6 hours per week, and Structure (Grammar) is 5 hours per week. The same amount of hours during the 8-week session will be taught during the 6-week session.

Do you offer TOEFL, IELTS, and GRE preparation courses?

Yes, the TOEFL or IELTS courses are offered every session when enrollment allows. The GRE preparation classroom courses are available on campus through Kaplan.

Do you offer any other programs?

We offer customized training for small groups, an English + Business program, a Pathway to UA program, a Teacher Training Program, and the International Teaching Assistant Program. For more information about our other programs at the ELI, click here.


What activities can I join?

Afternoon and weekend ELI trips are available throughout the session and are typically held 6 times a session. Weekend trips include cultural and sightseeing to places such as Nashville, Atlanta, Panama City, and New Orleans. Afternoon activities include holiday parties, games, and arts and crafts. Our Cultural and Language Exchange Program (CLEP) provides students with conversation partners in a relaxed environment. For more information about our activities during the session, go to this link:

University sponsored events include volunteer activities, sports games, water parks, concerts, musical productions, educational activities, etc. You can find some of the university sponsored events here:

Are the activities included in my fees?

Most ELI activities are included in your tuition. However, some ticket, transportation, food, souvenirs, and accommodation fees are not covered in certain trips.

UA Admission

How can I attend UA while I am at the ELI?

ELI students who are interested in taking undergraduate courses for credit at UA may qualify for concurrent enrollment (i.e., taking a combination of ELI and undergraduate courses at the same time) by satisfying certain requirements. See the ELI Student Handbook or speak with the ELI Academic Advisor for more information.

It also may be possible for ELI students in Levels 4, 5, or 6 to gain valuable experience by visiting an undergraduate course at UA while they are studying English. Permission to do this is given to students who are doing satisfactory work in their ELI classes and is dependent on obtaining the professor’s permission.

Is there conditional admission at UA?

If you are an excellent student and wish to apply for admission to an academic degree program at The University of Alabama (UA), but you do not have good English skills or a good TOEFL score, you can still be admitted.

UA offers Conditional Admission for undergraduate study (bachelor’s degree) and Provisional Language Admission for graduate study (master’s or doctoral degree) to international students who meet the academic qualifications for admission but who do not yet have sufficient proficiency in English.

What are the required scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT) for admission to UA?

  • For undergraduate degree programs, official SAT or ACT score reports can be submitted if available. These test results are required for scholarship consideration and for U.S. high school graduates.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet based test score of 71 and IELTS overall score of 6.0.
    • Students who study in our English Language Institute (ELI) may meet the language requirement by earning the Proficiency Certificate from that program.
  • For graduate school, most departments require an admission test score (i.e. GRE, GMAT, MAT). Applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit an English Language proficiency test score (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS) unless they have a U.S. degree earned within three years (of enrolling in their graduate program) or have studied in the U.S. for two years immediately prior to enrolling here. Required minimum scores for unconditional admission:
    • GRE (School Code-1830): 300 (total combined Verbal/Quantitative subscores)
    • GMAT (School Code dependent on program of interest): 500 total converted score
    • MAT (School Code-1012): 50th percentile
    • TOEFL (School Code-1830): 79 (iBT) or 550 (pBT)
    • IELTS: 6.5

Does UA offer any scholarships or financial aid for international undergraduate students (bachelor’s degree)?

Academic scholarships are merit-based, requiring that students earn certain grade point averages and/or scores on the PSAT, SAT, or ACT to qualify. Student Financial Aid will consider students for non-need based scholarships as well.

Entering freshmen, transfer students, and current University undergraduate students who apply will be considered for all scholarships for which they are eligible, with the exception of those offered by Air Force ROTC, Army ROTC, and the College of Continuing Studies.

Scholarship GPA SAT Score ACT Score Annual Amount
Capstone 3.5 1210-1240 27 $3,500
Collegiate 3.5 1250-1280 28 $4,000
Foundation in Excellence 3.5 1290-1320 29 Half Tuition
UA Scholar 3.5 1330-1390 30-31 2/3 Tuition
Presidential 3.5 1400+ 32+ Full Tuition

Does UA offer any scholarships or financial aid for international graduate students (master’s or doctoral degree)?

The University of Alabama makes financial awards to graduate students mainly through fellowships and assistantships. Graduate applicants for financial aid must have been admitted to a degree program, to the Graduate School, and to The University of Alabama. Only academically superior students are eligible.

If you are an excellent student and wish to know more about Graduate School Financial Assistance, you can send your inquiry via the Graduate School Contact Form for more information.


ELI Classes


UA Admission