ISSS-BU News 09 January 2012 ISSS-BU News

An electronic news service for international students and scholars, owned by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services atBinghamtonUniversity, State University of New York

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Editor’s Note: Next Monday, January 16, 2012 is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Most university offices, including the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, will be closed. However, ISSS-BU News will publish its regular Monday issue on that day.

Are you assisting new international students? Many new students have begun to arrive at Binghamton. New international students who have not yet visited the ISSS should come to the ISSS this week to pick up an early arrival packet. Orientation begins Wednesday, January 25, 2012 (see article below).

1. Spring 2012 Student Bills Are Now Posted For Students Who Advance Registered
2. Binghamton Named a Top Best Value in Public Colleges In The U.S. By Kiplinger Personal Finance
3. New International Student Orientation Begins Wednesday, January 25
4. Course Registration Information for Spring 2012
5. Limits for F-1 Students Who Take On-Line Courses
6. Why Do I Have So Many I-20s?
7. Income Tax Information: Income Tax Benefits If Attending a US College or University

1. Spring 2012 Student Bills Are Now Posted For Students Who Advance Registered

Spring 2012 student bills are now posted for students who have advance-registered. Notifications of student bills are sent to the students email account, and can also be viewed on BU Brain. Students who have not yet registered for the Spring 2012 semester will not have a student bill generated until a course registration is made. Once the bill is generated, notification will be sent by email, with the due date for that bill.

Students are reminded that they can identify other individuals (such as a family member) to have access to their student bill to make a payment. For full information, go to:

2. Binghamton Named a Top Best Value in Public Colleges In The U.S. By Kiplinger Personal Finance

Binghamton University again ranked among the nation’s top best values in public colleges and universities in the United States for 2012, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, based on its strong academics at reasonable prices and its financial aid offerings. Binghamton also is ranked the number two best value for out-of-state students. Applications from across the U.S. and internationally help to increase Binghamton’s selectivity and the quality of its students.

To learn more, go to

3. New International Student Orientation Begins Wednesday, January 25

International Student Orientation activities begin Wednesday, January 25, and orientation packets will be distributed during orientation check-in, Wednesday January 25, 9:00am to 11:30am in the Old University Union Tillman Lobby (in front of the Mandela Room).

Detailed information on International Student Orientation is now available on line at:

A detailed schedule will be available at the ISSS website very soon.

4. Course Registration Information for Spring 2012

Please note that compliance with the University’s Immunization Requirements is a pre-requisite for registration for new students. New international students with any questions or concerns regarding these requirements will find additional information at the following link:

The University’s registration system on BU Brain will be turned on for Spring 2012 course registration beginning Friday, January 27, 2012 for new and continuing undergraduate students. Graduate students will be able to access BU Brain for course registration beginning January 23, 2012. The system will be available seven days a week until the evening of the course withdrawal deadline, which is March 30, 2012. Course adds will be accepted until the deadline of Friday, February 10. The system will accept course drops and deletes until the course drop deadline, Friday, February 10. After that date, the system will allow for course withdrawals until the course withdrawal deadline of March 30. Please note that students who drop courses during the course withdrawal period will receive a grade of W.

Schedule of Classes

The Schedule of Classes for Spring 2012 is available online at

The online schedule is the most up to date and accurate source of course information and is the only published version of the Schedule of Classes.

Students with outstanding debts to the University, and students who have not complied with University Health Service requirements will be blocked from registering. Students can also view their account balances and pay any outstanding debts through BU Brain,

Registration Starting Times and Room Assignments

Students are assigned starting times for spring registration according to their total cumulative credits, not including advance registration credits. Students can check their total cumulative credits by going to BU Brain

You can view and print your schedule from BU Brain at any time. Student schedules will not be mailed. Please look online for your classroom assignments.

* Classroom assignments are subject to change. Assignments on BU Brain are the most accurate and up to date.

5. Limits for F-1 Students Who Take On-Line or Distance Education Courses

On-line courses have become increasingly popular for students, and many colleges and universities, including Binghamton, have greatly expanded their on-line and distance education course offerings in the past few years. But, the US federal government limits the number of on-line courses that an F-1 student can count towards a full-time course load during a required term.

Here is the text of the federal regulation:
For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing.

What does this mean?

For Binghamton F-1 students, a full-time course load is required only during the Fall and Spring semesters. There is no requirement that students be enrolled during the Summer or Winter sessions, which are optional. Thus, a F-1 student can take as many on-line or distance education courses from Binghamton or from another institution as they wish (with Binghamton’s approval) during Summer or Winter session. But, during the Fall and Spring semesters, an F-1 student is limited to only one on-line or distance education course that can be counted towards a full-time course load. If the course requires the student to come to the sponsoring university’s location for a class, examination, or some other purpose integral to the completion of the course, then it is not considered “on-line” or “distance education” for the purposes of the federal definition, and is not subject to the federal limit.

If a student needs only one course to finish his or her program of study in the final semester, it cannot be taken through online/distance education. There must be a physical presence requirement for the course. If a student remains in the United States without reporting to any class, it becomes a security issue and cannot be allowed.

Confused? Don’t be. Send your questions regarding on-line or distance education courses to the ISSS at

6. Why Do I Have So Many I-20s?

When the US federal government established the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) in 2002, many of the federal regulations governing F-1 and J-1 students changed. Among the most significant regulations were changes to ensure the security of the production of I-20s and DS-2019s, to prevent fraud. As a result, in addition to the initial I-20 issued to students, schools are required to prepare new I-20s for F-1 students whenever a student:

  • Changes or adds a major, minor or concentration
  • Changes level of study
  • Extends the ending date of the I-20
  • Registers for the first time after previously attending another US school
  • Adds a F-2 dependent to the SEVIS record
  • Removes a F-2 dependent from the SEVIS record
  • Needs a new I-20 to apply for a US visa abroad
  • Loses or damages an I-20
  • Has no remaining travel endorsement lines on page 3 of the I-20
  • Applies for reinstatement to student status
  • Applies for curricular practical training
  • Applies for optional practical training
  • Applies for economic hardship employment or employment with an international organization
  • Needs to correct an error or update information on the I-20

Thus, it is not unusual for a student to have many I-20s! This can be frustrating for students, who wonder what they are supposed to do with so many pieces of paper, and need to determine which is the one to use for travel.

Here is advice from the ISSS about what to do with those I-20s:

  • You must save all I-20s, even the ones that are no longer valid or are from a school you previously attended. Keep them together and in a safe place. You may also wish to make a set of photocopies as well (pages 1 and 3), and keep them in a location different from where you keep the originals. Those I-20s represent your immigration history in the United States. When you seek certain benefits from the US government such as employment, you may be asked to present copies of all previously issued I-20s as part of your application.
  • The most recently issued I-20 is your current travel document. To tell which I-20 is the current one, check the issue date in the lower right hand corner of Page 1.

The ISSS knows that multiple I-20s can be cumbersome. But, it is all done to be in compliance with federal regulations.

7. Income Tax Information: Income Tax Benefits If Attending a US College or University

This is part of a weekly series of "Income Tax Information" that appear in ISSS-BU News. To view back issues go to: and click on "ISSS-BU News."

Today's income tax article is about income tax benefits for students attending a U.S. college or University, and the associated Form 1098-T, “Tuition Statement.” This form is sent by U.S. colleges and universities to its students, to be used by the student, or the student’s parents, for claiming an education tax credit on their federal income tax forms. Some students may receive form 1098-T from Binghamton University.

However, only those individuals who are residents for tax purposes can claim one of the three tax benefits available, known as the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifelong Learning Credit, and the Tuition and Fees Deduction. Eligibility for these three income tax benefits is explained in IRS publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education, which can be viewed and printed from the IRS web site, or ordered by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM. Please note that the on-line publication is a 86–page pdf file, and you will need Adobe Acrobat reader or some other pdf reader to download it.

International students who have been continuously in F-1 or J-1 status for five years or less (entered the U.S as F-1 or J-1 2007 or later) generally file income tax forms as non-residents. IRS publication 970 clearly states that non-residents are not eligible for any of the three education benefits. See pgs 9, 21 and 37 of the 2010 edition of the publication that is currently on-line.

Thus, only those international students who have been continuously in F-1 or J-1 status for MORE than five years (entered the U.S. as F-1 or J-1 in 2006 or earlier) and who generally file income tax forms as residents for tax purposes, may be eligible to claim these benefits, which are based on the information provided on Form 1098-T.

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Last Updated: 4/12/16