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FAQs Undergraduate studies


General Questions

What are the basic admission requirements for getting admission to an undergraduate programme?
You must have a good academic background inclusive of 12 years of appropriate formal education and the G.C.E. O/Ls & A/Ls, adequate financial resources and a good command of the English language. Of the supplementary tests the TOEFL or IELTS  exam is mandatory for all foreign students unless any exemptions have been provided and the SAT – I,  SAT – II or the ACT exams are highly recommended as it will be beneficial for college admission as well as visa purposes.



SAT – I & SAT 11


What would be the estimated expenses for one Academic year?
The cost of study varies widely among institutions and the cost of living varies from one location to the next. Please visit the US-SLFC’s Library to know more about the expenses at various universities/colleges.

What are the types of higher education institutions in the U.S. ?
There are different types of institutions . Each has its own programmes and entry requirements.
For more information:

When does the academic year begin? What is a semester?
The academic calendar will be slightly different for each university but normally runs from early September to end of May. A semester is a term.

What does FALL and SPRING admissions mean?
These are the two main semesters. The Fall semester begins at the end of August or early September. The Spring semester starts around January/February.

What is a Credit System?
A student’s rate of advancement in meeting curriculum requirements is measured in course units or credits. These are referred to as credit hours. Usually it takes between 130 – 180 credits to graduate.

What are the degree courses that would make up my study programme?
The individual courses that make up the degree programme can be divided into the following:

Core courses: These provide the foundation of the degree programme and are required of all students. Eg. Mathematics, English, humanities, physical sciences and social sciences.

Major courses: A major is a subject in which a student chooses to concentrate. Most major in one subject; however some colleges offer the option of pursuing a double major with a related subject. Your major courses represent one-quarter to one-half of the total number of courses required to complete a degree

Minor courses: A minor is a subject in which a student may choose to take the second greatest concentration of courses. The required number of courses tends to be half the number of major courses.

Elective courses: These may be chosen from any department. They offer opportunities to explore other topics or subjects you may be interested in and help make up the total number of credits required to graduate.

What are “Grades” in the American system?
American universities employ a system of continual assessment and assign grades for each course taken. Almost everything you do for a class will influence your final grade. Examinations and tests, essays or written assignments, laboratory reports, laboratory or studio work, class attendance, and class participation may all be used to determine your final grade. This means it is essential to keep up with the reading and course work and to attend classes on a regular basis.
The following is a general percentage/letter grade scale for classes taken at U.S. colleges:

100 – 90% = A
89 – 80% = B
79 – 70% = C
69 – 60% = D
59 – 50% = E
49 – 0% = F

What is a GPA?
Each student completes his or her degree with a grade point average (GPA). A cumulative grade point average is the GPA for all courses taken throughout the degree programme. Most universities use a GPA scale of 4.0, but a few universities use a scale of 5.0. To work out your GPA, take the numerical value assigned to the letter grade you achieve for each course (typically 4 points for an “A,” 3 points for a “B,” and so on), then multiply this number by the number of credits each course is worth. Finally, add these numbers together and divide by the total number of credits for all courses. For example:


Letter Grade Numerical Value Number of Credits Total
A 4.0 3 12
B 3.0 3 9
C 2.0 3 6
27 divided by 9 = 3.0 GPA.


What is an “Accreditation”?
Accreditation is the uniquely American process by which colleges and universities (as well as other groups of educational & service institutions) voluntarily establish and enforce criteria for the assessment of the quality of institutions, degree programmes and professional certificate programmes within certain academic and professional fields. Being “accredited” signifies that the institution or programme meets minimum quality standards established by the group.

What is a “transcript”?
A transcript is an authenticated copy of a student’s official academic record detailing courses the student has taken and the grade received in each.

Supplementary Tests for undergraduate studies

The TOEFL or IELTS  exam is mandatory for all foreign students unless any exemptions have been provided.

SAT – I, SAT – II or ACT exams are required by some universities and recommended by most.
High scores in each of the tests are recommended if you are applying for financial aid.
The US-SLFC’s library has many books for reference. You may also be able to purchase some current publications at a subsidized rate.


Web Resource Guide :

Contact information For General Inquiries & Paper-Based Testing Registration:

Phone : 1-609-771-7100 Fax: 1-609-771-7500 E-mail: [email protected]

Mail :
TOEFL Services,
Educational Testing Service,
P.O. Box 6151 ,
Princeton , NJ 08541-6151 ,

Express courier Delivery :
TOEFL Services (25-Q-310),
Distribution & Receiving Center ,
225, Phillips Boulevard ,
Ewing , NJ 08628-7435 ,
Preferred Forms of Payment: Credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express) / Bank draft – payable to: ETS-TOEFL

Methods for Registration :

Mail: complete the registration form in the envelope marked “Paper-Based Testing Only” in the center of the bulletin and mail to:
TOEFL Registration Office, P.O. Box 6152 , Princeton , NJ 08541-6152 , USA .
Online Registration: for test takers with valid credit cards

Scheduling hints:

  • Register early: test centers fill up quickly
  • Take the test as soon as possible so your scores will be received in time to be considered with your application.
  • Spell your name exactly as it is spelt on your identification documents.

Validity: scores are valid for two years
Please refer the bulletin for more information.



British Council, Sri Lanka:

Test Dates and deadlines:
Web resource guide:
Contact information :

Methods for registration :
Test Registration:

Validity: scores are valid for 2 years
Please contact the British Council Colombo for more information.


SAT – I  & SAT – II:

Official website:

Test dates and deadlines for international test takers:
Web resource guide :

Contact information 

Methods for registration :
Online registration:

Test fees:
Preferred modes of payment; Credit Cards or Money Order – payable to The College Board

Testing locations:

Validity: scores are valid for 5 years
Please visit the CollegeBoard website for more information.



Official website:

International test dates and deadlines for international test takers:
Web resource guide :

Contact information :

Methods for registration :

Online registration:
Test fees:

Testing locations:

Validity: scores are valid for 5 years
Please visit the ACT website for more information.


Financial Aid


Studying in the United States can be expensive. Careful planning is both necessary and wise. You will be required to prove to the university and the Consular Officer and perhaps the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses (housing, food, clothing etc.) and health insurance as well as the university’s tuition and fees.
All types of financial aid for international students are highly competitive and require excellent academic records. You will often find the terms “scholarships” and “financial aid” used interchangeably, but technically speaking, a scholarship is a financial award based on merit, including outstanding academic performance, special talent in sports or performing arts, or perhaps community service or leadership.
Financial aid is a “need-based” grant based on the student’s financial need, as documented by family income, assets, and other factors. Keep in mind that financial aid for U.S. students is separate from financial aid for international students. Do not assume that all colleges award financial aid. If offered, financial aid is usually made up of a number of different types of assistance, including grants and scholarships and occasionally loans or part-time work programs. Be sure to tell the admissions office that you are an international student applicant and request information on financial aid available to non-U.S. students.
Financial aid is very rare at state or public colleges and at colleges that offer professional courses such as engineering, business administration and health professions. More financial aid may be available from private liberal arts colleges, which offer arts and science subjects.
Search for universities that have funded international students in previous years. (You should be able to get a list from us, if available.)
To get a full scholarship, you must be one of the top students in your country, high SAT and TOEFL scores, and with distinguished performance in other areas such as leadership and community service.
Financial assistance from colleges is awarded at the beginning of the academic year and is rarely available at other times. More aid is available for freshman students than for those who would transfer.
(Adapted from If You Want To Study In The United States – Book 1 Produced by the U.S. Department of State, Educational Information and Resources Branch: )

From where can I get a general idea about the expenses involved to study in the United States of America ?
You can get a general idea about expenses by studying the college guides, catalogues and application material available in the library. Keep in mind that tuition fees vary according to each university. State (public) universities are generally but not always less expensive than private institutions. Some private institutions may be able to offer scholarships that state schools cannot.

Does the cost of studying vary from university to university?
The cost of living in different parts of the US also varies. In general, living in urban areas is more expensive than living in rural areas. Likewise, food, clothing, entertainment and other living expenses may be more expensive in a city.

How easy is it to get financial assistance from the US sources for undergraduate studies?
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer limited financial aid for foreign students through their financial aid offices. In general, however, there is much less money available for undergraduate study in the United States than there is for graduate study. Private institutions can sometimes discount or reduce the costs of tuition, public institutions seldom have this option. You should request information about financial aid when you request an application form from the institution’s admissions office.


For more information and guidance, please contact the Student Adviser: [email protected]