Pre-Arrival Information

What to do before you arrive

Congratulations on your choice of Chandler-Gilbert to pursue your studies. We’re excited and honored to welcome you to our college community. To help you prepare for your journey to Arizona, we’ve listed the arrangements you’ll want to make before you leave, the items you’ll want to be sure to bring with you, and what to expect when you arrive. Safe travels, and we’ll see you here soon!

Pre-Arrival Information

As the primary student, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa at the nearest United States Consulate Office or Embassy in your home country before you leave. Any dependents will need to apply for an F-2 visa. Procedures to apply for a visa change from time to time, so we advise you to check with your nearest consulate or embassy office either by phone or website to find out the procedures and requirements in your country. Take these documents with you when you apply for a visa:

  • The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-20 you received from the school
  • Your financial guarantee documents
  • Any documentation supporting your permanent residency in your home country

Plan to call the consulate or embassy office well in advance to schedule an interview with an officer. The fee for processing the SEVIS I-20 is $350.00, in addition to the visa cost, which varies from country to country. NOTE: The SEVIS fee must be paid before your visa appointment date. Follow this link for information on how to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

Arriving at Sky Harbor Airport - Purchase your airline ticket for final arrival at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. During your flight into the United States, you will be given a custom's declaration card (form 6059-B). Please read it carefully and fill it out completely. Make sure that you have your I-94 card and passport. Upon arrival, you will pass through customs, then exit the terminal to locate ground transportation to your destination.

Ground transportation - Uber is the most popular form of transportation from Sky Harbor Airport, and recommended as a more affordable option. You will need to download the UBER app to your phone and create an account. Costs range between $18 -$40, depending on distance. Uber vehicles are located right outside the exit doors of the airport.

Taxi service is also available just outside the terminal exits. Fares are usually more expensive than the Super Shuttle, ranging anywhere from $25 to $55 to cities in the Greater Phoenix area.

Free transportation shuttle services may be available from your hotel, if you are staying in one. Please call your hotel in advance to make arrangements.

Immigration documents

Make copies of all your documents and a list of your valuable items, in case they get lost or stolen, and keep one set with you, and one in your checked luggage. Obtaining replacement documents and articles can be time-consuming and costly if you do not have records.

Passport and visa
Be sure to bring your I-94 card (arrival and departure record attaching inside your passport), and your SEVIS I-20. Other important items not to forget:

  • Airline tickets
  • Credit cards
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medicines and prescriptions
  • Copy of original birth certificate
  • Transcripts and educational documents (extra copies)
  • Electrical adapter (voltage in U. S. is 110)
  • Clothing for Arizona weather

Clothing to pack Arizona is hot during the summer months (June to September), so light cotton clothing is recommended. In the winter months (December to February), Central Arizona weather is chilly — jeans, long sleeve tops and light jackets are recommended. It snows in the higher elevations of Northern, Eastern and parts of Southern Arizona, so if you plan to visit these areas, you will need much warmer clothing, such as wool socks, thick jackets, hats, scarves and gloves. During the rest of the year (Oct to Nov, March to May), the weather is absolutely beautiful in the metro-Phoenix area. You should take certain documents with you in your carry-on luggage, in case your checked luggage is lost. Don't forget to add labels with your name and contact information on your luggage. Items to bring with you in your carry-on might include:

  • Airline ticket
  • Passport
  • I-20 form
  • Evidence of Financial Support form
  • Documentation of your permanent residence in your country
  • Extra passport size photos
  • Official Transcripts for all Secondary and Post secondary studies
  • Medical & Dental Records
  • Information about any medical conditions or treatments
  • Eyeglasses and lens prescriptions
  • Traveler's checks, cash, credit cards
  • Copy of birth or marriage certificate
  • International driver's license
  • Important telephone numbers
  • Emails and addresses (family, friends, businesses, doctors, etc.)
  • Change of clothing, if it takes you two days to get to the U.S.

Remember that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the port of entry is authorized to search you and your luggage when you seek admission to the U.S.

Your finances
Tuition per semester will be approximately $3,500 for 12 credits (minimum credits required per semester). This does not include textbook or health insurance expenses. Cost for living — rent, utilities and personal expenses — will depend on the quality and location of your home or apartment. Rents typically range from $600 to $1,200 a month. Most students have the following type of expenses when they arrive:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Rent
  • Food (often called "board," as in "room and board")
  • Health insurance and Medical Costs
  • Books and Course supplies
  • Transportation
  • Communications (mainly cell telephone and email services)
  • Clothing
  • Personal expenses
  • Recreation
  • Furniture
  • Travel

Also consider expenses for any dependents, that is, a spouse and/or children who accompany you and are dependent on your financial support. These expenses may include living costs, childcare, health insurance and tuition for dependents in school.

Your health
Before you leave your home country you should have a complete physical and dental examination. You should tell your doctor that you are going to study in the United States, possibly for several years. Ask your doctor what medical care or monitoring you might need while you are away from home for that long. Find out how you can get medication that you might need. Your home doctor or clinic might be able to help by referring you to a source for prescription drugs in the U.S. Get copies of your medical records translated into English if your doctor recommends it. Have your teeth checked thoroughly by your family dentist. Get all of your dental work completed before you come to Arizona. There are excellent dental care facilities in Arizona, but dental work can be very expensive and it is not covered by most health insurance plans. If you need dental care or orthodontic care while you are in Arizona, talk to the International Education office for help locating a suitable facility.

If you need temporary housing, there are nearby hotels or weekly suites you can rent until you find a permanent place to live. CGCC at the Williams Campus has housing available. If you choose CGCC campus housing, you might also need transportation, such as a car, especially if you decide to take classes on the larger Pecos Campus. Another housing option is a homestay with a family. AZ Homestay offers a wonderful experience that can help you improve your English while learning American culture. Students who chose this program will live with an American family close to CGCC campuses. Options might include:

  • Your own private bedroom in a home near your school
  • 2 meals (breakfast and dinner 7 days a week)
  • Free airport pick up by your host family
  • A minimum 4-week stay, or continue as long as you like

Homestay services charge a one-time placement processing fee. Average rent for each 4-week stay ranges from $660 to $900, including meals, lodging and utilities. There are also nearby leasing communities a student can rent for a monthly fee ranging between $600 and $1,200 a month, depending on the location and quality of living preferred. For apartment leasing in Chandler or Gilbert, Arizona, you can use a search sites such as:

To find an apartment in your desired area, be sure to use either of these search words: 85225 (ZIP code where CGCC is located), East Valley, Chandler, Gilbert.

Arizona has some of the best weather in the nation between the months of September and May. The temperature averages 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 Celsius) during the day and 35 to 45 °F (2 to 7 °C) at night. Our summer months, June through August, can reach temperatures of over 100 °F (43 °C). Light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the year if you are living in the greater Phoenix area. Most people dress very casual in the summer months. Many students wear shorts and light cotton blouses or t-shirts to campus. Many stores sell very light cotton long sleeve blouses or t-shirts to avoid getting sunburns. They are made from a special "wicking" material that allows perspiration to evaporate quickly and leave you feeling cooler, yet protected.

Our winter temperatures can be chilly, reaching temperatures of 50 to 60 °F (11 to 15 °C). If you leave the greater Phoenix area to visit cities located in higher elevations, you will need heavier and warmer clothing during the winter months. It snows in many places such as Flagstaff, Prescott, Show Low and Payson. All these cities and towns are one or two hours away by car.

In addition to recommended clothing items, we strongly suggest you always wear sunglasses and a hat in the summer months, and drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirty. Because the air here is dry, dehydration can be a serious problem. You may also find it necessary to use a moisturizing cream on your face and hands. If you are going to be in the sun participating in outdoor activities, use a sunscreen product on your face, arms and legs.

The State of Arizona is known for its beautiful scenery. It is the home to the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Kartchner Caverns, as well as many other incredible natural wonders. The state is also famous for its warm, sunny weather. With 330 days of sunshine a year, Arizona is ideal for outdoor adventures. The cities of Chandler and Gilbert are just 35 minutes away from Phoenix, which is the fifth largest city in the United States. CGCC is located about 20 miles from the Superstition Mountains, which boasts four lakes, plenty of hiking trails and scenic campgrounds. Arizona State University, the largest university in Arizona, is only 30 minutes away.

City buses
Although the cities of Gilbert and Chandler are among the fastest growing in the U.S., reliable and consistent public transportation is challenging but improving. There is a cities-wide bus system which includes several stops a day at CGCC. If you know your residing street address, you can determine if there is a bus route from your location to the school by visiting Valley Metro Bus online. You can usually find bus routes close to where you live, though the times may not always be convenient. There are local and express bus routes to most parts of the greater Phoenix area, but this public transportation is not as good as in cities such as New York or Los Angeles, so we recommend you make transportation arrangements soon after you arrive.

Automobiles and driving
Many students purchase inexpensive vehicles of $3,000 or less to get to school. If you buy a car, you will need to get a Driver License. Though cars are in many ways the easiest form of transportation in this large metropolitan area, you should think long and hard before you take steps to buy one. First, figure out how much you can afford to spend on a car, title and license, insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Owning a car could double your expenses as a student at CGCC. Discuss the matter with your financial sponsor as well. If your sponsor doesn't know that you are planning to get a car, he or she may be very surprised when your expenses suddenly double. Even if you buy a relatively inexpensive car, you could easily spend another $3,000 per year on fuel, license plates, upkeep, tires, repairs, parking, and insurance.

Driver licenses
Everyone who drives in Arizona must have a valid driver license or instruction permit from the Motor Vehicle Department. As an out-of-state foreign student you can drive with an International Driver License and your home country driver license. Or if you have a valid driver license issued in another state, you don't have to get an Arizona driver license. However, if you plan to stay in Arizona for a few years, it is advisable for you to obtain an Arizona license. In fact, you may not be able to get car insurance without one.

These are a very popular mode of transportation for many students. Bicycle prices can range considerably. Inexpensive second-hand bikes can be purchased in several places, such as bike shops, swap meets, campus "for sale" bulletins, personal advertising online, and garage sales. It is important to lock your bicycle securely whenever you leave it. We recommend you purchase a strong and secure U-lock, or ask a bicycle salesperson to recommend one. You should always lock your bike to a rack and not a post or tree, and for safety reasons, you should always wear a helmet while riding.

Medical Health Insurance
Health, dental and vision care is very expensive in the United States. Chandler-Gilbert Community College has a mandatory health insurance policy for international students. This means that you are required to purchase the CGCC-MCCD health insurance policy while you are enrolled here as a student.

Coverage begins on August 11 and extends through January 11 for the Fall semester. Coverage for the Spring and Summer semester begins on January 11 and extends through August 11. We suggest you purchase temporary international health insurance in your home country if you will arrive before August 11 or January 11. Students will be given more details about health care and medical insurance during the orientation session.

Dental and vision examinations & insurance
CGCC has mandatory health insurance for all international students, which costs about $1,000 annually. CGCC insurance does NOT cover dental and vision care — only health. You can save money if you get health, dental and vision examinations and treatment before you leave your home country. Also, do not forget to bring any prescription medications you need with you. You might also want to consult with your doctor for recommendations and extra medications. There are dental and vision insurance policies you may purchase separately. For more information about supplemental dental and vision insurance, contact the International Education Program office.