Obtaining an SMU I-20

International Students who are admitted into a degree program at Southern Methodist University will need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Form I-20) in order to enter and/or remain in the U.S. as an F-1 student. The United States government requires all international applicants to provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses before SMU can issue the forms required to obtain a visa. This requirement applies both to international students coming from abroad and those transferring from another U.S. university or institution.


For SMU to issue you a Form I-20, you will need to submit:

1. The International Student Financial Statement form.  Section one and section two must be completed, including the signatures of both you (the student) and your sponsor.
2. A copy of the picture page from your passport
3. Original Financial Verification from Bank or Financial Institution, on bank letterhead, from you or your sponsor, must be dated within six months of the time of I-20 issuance. Account balance(s) must be shown in an amount greater than or equal to the total estimated costs below. - Any scholarship amount awarded by SMU can be submitted as part of the financial support documents.
  • An example of the wording that can be used follows: “I hereby certify that according to our records, SPONSOR’S NAME, the sponsor of STUDENT’S NAME, is capable of meeting the $90,152 education expenses of the student as indicated on the Estimated Undergraduate Cost form."
  • The bank letter must be translated into English and current balance in U.S. dollars.
4. If you are currently attending an institution in the US (college or high school), you will need to arrange for the release of your SEVIS record to SMU once your program is completed. Please complete our Transfer-In Form and upload it within the International Document Submission Form found on your Admission Status Page.

The SMU International Student & Scholar Service Office will process your I-20 request after all required materials have been submitted to the SMU Office of Undergraduate Admission. Please expect approximately two weeks after your documents have been received for your Form I-20 to be processed. A digital copy of your Form I-20 will be e-mailed to you so you can make your visa appointments at the US Embassy near you. 


Estimated Undergraduate Costs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that all foreign passport holders planning to study in the United States verify that appropriate funds are available to pay for education, living, and other expenses. This verification is needed in order to process and issue the required I-20 document. The estimated expenses expected to be incurred during the 2023-2024 academic year are as follows:

2023-2024 Education, Living, and Other Expenses Estimated Cost
Fall and Spring Tuition $57,212
Estimated General Student Fees $7,248 
Housing (double room with roommate) and meal plan $18,230
Mandatory Health Insurance Purchased through SMU $3,786
International Fee $200
Books and Supplies  $3,476
Total $90,152 USD