Next Steps: New International Students – Atlanta Campus

Congratulations on your acceptance to Georgia State University – Atlanta Campus as a new international student! International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) advises you to complete this checklist both before and after your arrival in the U.S. and Atlanta. We’ve also included a list of items to keep with you (not in checked luggage) during travel. If you are anxious to see what our campus looks like, enjoy our virtual tour! Welcome.

Many questions you might have about housing, courses, and life in Atlanta and the U.S. as an international student are answered in the International Student Handbook. Please review and bookmark this useful resource.

ISSS is here to help. We look forward to meeting you at international orientation and check-in!

If you are starting at Perimeter College, click here to view next steps for admitted Perimeter College students.


1. Activate your Campus ID at Enter your Panther ID #, which you received in your admissions materials. If you lost, forgot or didn’t receive it, you can look it up here.

  • Follow the directions for students without SSN # (Social Security Number) to receive a temporary password, which you can change at the same site.
  • Memorize or write down your password because you will need it on the first day of international orientation.
2. Set up your Georgia State student email account at PantherMail Student Email. You’ll use this email address for all official communications with ISSS and the University. Emails from our office will always start with the subject line “ISSS”.
3. Obtain I-20 or DS-2019. After academic admission to Georgia State, ISSS will email you to upload immigration information via an online system called ‘iStart.’ Students requesting F1 or J1 visa status will upload financial documents also as required to process and receive a Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1).
4. Pay SEVIS fee. Once you have received your I-20 or DS -2019 from Georgia State, pay the required SEVIS I-901 fee at: Print and keep your receipt for future reference. Optional information: More about the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is at:
5. Schedule your visa interview. Next, make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy for your F1 or J1 visa interview. You will need your SEVIS I-901 fee receipt and I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia State. More information about this process was in your ISSS Welcome Packet. It’s also on the ISSS website.



6. Log into Panther Access to Web Services (PAWS). PAWS is the online portal to access things like student accounts, housing, and more. While you’re in there, check out the New Students tab. View your student record and any holds on your account under the Enrollment tab. Click the Campus Resources tab for housing information.
7. AFTER obtaining your visa, plan your travel to the U.S to arrive in time for (required) International Student Orientation and Check-in. You may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start day on your  I-20 or DS-2019. You may not skip or miss international orientation and check-in.
8. Connect with your class. Coming soon.
9. Research housing options. First, read the housing section of the International Student Handbook.

  • Then check with University Housing for available space in a campus residence hall.
  • The Dean of Students also maintains some information about off-campus housing.
  • The ISAC group of your choice is also a great resource for roommates or temporary housing.
  • Note: Georgia State University does not offer temporary housing! If you are planning to live on campus, and you arrive before move-in date, you will need to find temporary housing beforehand on your own. A list of hotels near Georgia State can be found at this link.
10. Submit required immunization forms to the Student Health Clinic. Immunizations are required for MMR, Tetanus/Diphtheria, Varicella and Hepatitis B. Call 404-413-1930 with questions.

  • Forms can be submitted in advance. Please visit the Student Health Clinic website to learn how.
  • You may also deliver them in person after you arrive on campus and receive your Panther ID card.
  • If you have not yet received your immunizations, you can get them at the Student Health Clinic after you arrive at Georgia State University.
  • If you will live on campus, you must also obtain the meningitis vaccine or sign an optional waiver with your housing application.
11. Pay for, or request a waiver of required Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

  • All students are required to maintain adequate health insurance during their stay in the USA.
  • Payment for this insurance can be paid at the same time you pay your tuition and fees.
  • Students with a qualified alternate insurance plan from their home country are eligible to request a waiver of the Georgia State plan. If you do not request a waiver, and you don’t pay for the Georgia State plan by the payment deadline, your courses will be dropped automatically.
  • For more information about the plan, please click Student Health Insurance.
12. Contact your Academic Advisor before registering for courses.

  • Undergraduate students, see Academic Advising to locate your academic advisor.
  • Graduate students, contact your academic department to contact your academic advisor.
13. Register for courses via PAWS. You can register before meeting with your academic advisor, but you may have to change your course schedule after meeting with your advisor.

14. Arrange transport from the Atlanta airport to your local destination. Help is available if needed.

  • Contact one of the student groups that are a part of ISAC (International Student Associations Council). Several ISAC groups provide airport pickup and housing assistance. Click this link for the ISAC website. Then, under the “Get Involved,” there is the list of ISAC organizations.
  • Georgia Culture Connection is a volunteer network that offers free airport pickups for Georgia State international students in the fall and summer as their availability allows. To request their assistance, please complete this form in advance.



15. Attend mandatory International Student Orientation and Check-in the week before class. For schedule, location and details, click here.  
16. Graduate Students only: Be prepared to take the Georgia State Test of English Proficiency (GSTEP) during International Student Orientation, if required. Results could require you to alter your initial class schedule if you are required to add an English language course. For more information please click here.
17. Obtain your PantherCard, the official Georgia State University identification card for use as:

  • A library card, facility access, and a debit card (Panther Cash and Panther Meals meal plans).
  • Panther Card is available as soon as you are admitted to University at Auxiliary & Support Services in the Student Center. Just bring other valid photo ID. Ex: passport or Driver License.
18. Purchase your textbooks for classes, but only after advisement by your academic advisor.

  • The Georgia State University Bookstore will have the textbooks you need, or you can order or rent them online. If ordering, allow enough time for the books to arrive before classes start.
19. Prepare to pay all tuition and fees by the payment deadlines. All students with balances after the deadline are automatically dropped from all courses. For more information, please see How to Pay.
20. Send any needed final transcripts and/or test scores to your admissions office.

  • Undergraduate students: Submit AP or IB scores (if applicable) and transcripts with final credits and date of graduation to: The Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 4009, Atlanta, GA 30302.
21. Explore campus, especially the buildings where you’ll have classes with this online interactive map.
22. Driver’s License. To obtain a driver’s license in the USA as an international student, you will need to wait for your SEVIS record to be registered within 5 days after orientation and check-in. In addition, you have to be present in the USA at least 10 days. For detailed information about this topic, please read the Driver’s License section of International Student Handbook.
23. Review. Your class registration will NOT be complete until you complete the following:

  • Meet with your academic advisor
  • Enter a valid local address, foreign address, email and phone # in PAWS
  • Submit required immigration documents to ISSS at international orientation and check-in
  • Take the proper GSTEP or Math Placement Exam, if applicable
  • For additional resources, please review the Registrar’s Office FAQ.


ITEMS TO KEEP WITH YOU DURING TRAVEL (carry-on, not checked luggage)

  • I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia State University.
  • Valid passport.
  • U.S. Visa for Georgia State University, located in your passport.
  • Your admission letter from Georgia State University.
  • Airplane ticket(s).
  • Cash, credit cards, or any international bank card (ATM or debit card).
  • Phone numbers and email addresses of emergency contacts at home and in the United States.
  • Phone numbers and email addresses of relatives, friends, your Georgia State academic department, the ISSS office (404-413-2070 during business hours) and a representative of your nationality group at the University (see ISAC).
  • An English translation of your medical history and documents.
  • Prescriptions for medications you take and a fresh supply of prescription medicines.
  • Medical records (including vaccination records) for your accompanying spouse/children (if applicable).