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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Application and enrollment
ELI classes
Admission to other UT programs

Application and enrollment:

For the 8-week terms in our Intensive Academic English Program, apply here.

For the 8-week terms in our Part-time English Program, apply here.

For Short Courses, apply here.

For Online Courses, apply here.

To learn about conditional undergraduate admission at the University of Tennessee, click here

If you are looking for information about graduate admission at UT, learn more here.

The ELI application fee is $100, and it is nonrefundable. If not applying for an I-20, the application fee is $50.

ELI students must be at least 16 years old when classes begin.

  1. First, apply to ELI.
  2. After we review your application, we will send you an admission letter and a transfer form that you will take to the DSO/international student advisor at your current school.
  3. When the transfer form is completed, send it back to us.
  4. Finally, we will send you a new I-20.

  1. To get an F-1 student visa, you must first apply to ELI.
  2. After you are accepted, ELI will send you an admission letter and an I-20 form.
  3. Then you will go to the SEVIS I-901 website to pay your SEVIS fee. Keep your receipt.
  4. Next, apply for a visa and go to your visa interview.

Read more about that process here.

Look for an embassy or consulate office near you here.

The ELI will issue your I-20 within five to seven business days (Monday-Friday) after we receive all of your admission documents. We cannot issue an I-20 for incomplete applications.

We recommend applying at least 60 days before the first day of class so that you have enough time to get a visa.

You must pay tuition during registration and orientation at the beginning of each term, before you begin to attend classes.

ELI is unable to offer scholarships.

You can pay with a money order, cash, wire transfer, a check from an American bank, or a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express).

Funding can come from several different sources. Acceptable sources include:

  1. Yourself (personal bank statements);
  2. the University of Tennessee;
  3. your home government;
  4. international scholarships and sponsors;
  5. your employer (with official documentation and approval by ISSS);
  6. your spouse;
  7. your parents or legal guardian (proof of guardianship is required).

If you have an acceptable sponsor (as noted above) send a letter of support from your sponsor with your ELI application. It should be written on the sponsor’s official letterhead. It must state that the organization will financially support your study at ELI, and it must be signed by the director or business owner of the organization.

Funding from friends, relatives, or non-approved organizations is not acceptable and cannot be used as a proof of funding for immigration. If you have a friend, relative or other organization (for example a religious entity or community organization), the funding must be transferred to an account in your name in order for the funding to be used for immigration purposes.

In order to apply for visas for the family members you want to bring with you, you should include information about each person on your application. You will need to inform us of the name, date of birth, and relationship to you of each person.

You will also need to send a copy of each person’s passport photo page and show proof of $1,416 per family member for each session you plan to attend.

For example, if you want to bring your spouse and your child for the two terms you plan to study at ELI, you will need to show the equivalent of $5,664 in your bank account. Please note that this amount is in addition to what is required for you. Here is a helpful currency converter.


$1,416 x 2 x 2 = $5,664
amount per family member number of family members

number of terms at ELI

amount in bank account to support family members

ELI tuition usually increases by around 1-2% each year, beginning in the Fall I term. Estimated fees are listed here.

Yes. All international students are required to have health insurance while at the University of Tennessee. Students will be enrolled in the student health insurance program and billed for these services at the time of registration. For more information, click here for Student Health Plans at UTK and for information about international students click here.

The University of Tennessee requires all students to show proof of the following:

  • Measles vaccination
  • Mumps vaccination
  • Rubella vaccination
  • Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccination
  • Hepatitis B vaccination
  • Tuberculosis screening
  • Meningitis vaccination (if you live in on-campus housing)

You can read more about medical records here.

If you have questions, send an email to

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The closest airport is McGhee-Tyson Airport (TYS). It is located around 32 km/20 miles (around a 20-minute drive) from UT. 

You should arrive at ELI on your first day of class (for returning students) and orientation (for new students). Your I-20 and acceptance letter should have this information. You can enter the US up to 30 days before that date.

You have several transportation options after you arrive at the airport in Knoxville.

  • You can use Uber or Lyft to ride from the airport to your destination. You should pay your driver through the respective app.
  • You can call a taxi. You will need to call the taxi company directly as taxis are not usually waiting at the airport in Knoxville. You should pay the driver directly in cash or credit card. (Ask about payment method before you begin your trip.) 
    • Some taxi companies you might consider are here. Please note that we do not endorse any of these companies. We are just providing their names and phone numbers as a point of reference.

If your flight is delayed, contact ELI at or (865) 974-3404 (during business hours). If you made arrangements for us to pick you up at the airport, we will need to know when your new arrival time is.

If you experience an emergency after you arrive in the United States, call 911.

If you need help with a non-emergency situation, contact ELI at or 865-974-3404.

You have several options. Students (even those with cars) typically walk, ride bicycles, and ride local buses. Many students use ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber for travel within Knoxville.

Semester bicycle rental: TRECS

Knoxville Scooters & e-Bikes short term rentals

“The T”: free bus system on campus

Knoxville Trolley: free bus between UT and Downtown Knoxville

KAT: Knoxville’s public bus system (discounted student passes available)

Taxi Services in Knoxville

If you want to get a driver’s license in Tennessee, read more here.

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Some students live in on-campus housing (residence halls), and some students live in off-campus housing (usually apartments). ELI does not arrange housing for students, but we are happy to answer questions as you make arrangements. Please note that admission to the ELI does not guarantee on-campus housing.

On-campus housing: You cannot sign a housing contract until you arrive at the housing office, but you can submit a housing application before arrival. Go here for more information. You will need your UT ID number and your UT NetID in order to log in. If you don’t know those numbers, contact ELI (

The University Housing office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. ELI’s Orientation at the beginning of each term includes time for new students to go to the office. During that time, you can choose from available rooms and sign a contract. There are a variety of room types in the residence halls, and they have different prices.

Important: If you want to live in a campus residence hall, you must be approved by the Student Health Center (SCH) before you can move in. In order to be approved by the SCH, you must have an up-to-date Meningitis vaccine (Meningococcal Serogroup A, C, W, and Y vaccine). You must submit paperwork to the SHC that documents that vaccination. After you submit it, the SHC will give you a document that you can give to University Housing. If you do not have the vaccine, SCH can give it to you. Go here for more information about vaccination records.

Off-campus housing: You can learn more about off-campus housing options here. We recommend checking the local bus routes when you consider where to live. We cannot make arrangements for your off-campus housing, but we can answer questions you have about apartments in Knoxville.

On-campus housing: Rates for on-campus housing vary based on the type of room. You can see the housing rates here under “Future Residents”. The rates listed are for a 16-week semester. If you attend ELI for one term (8 weeks), you will only be required to pay for the weeks of your term. Please note that the contract you sign for on-campus housing is a legal document.  If you want to move out of your room before the end of your contract, you cannot get a refund.  You must still pay for the amount of time remaining on your contract. 

Off-campus housing: Rates for off-campus housing vary. You will be asked to sign a lease, and you will probably need to pay a deposit in addition to your first month’s rent.  Deposits are often equal to a month of rent. Some deposits are refundable when you move out if you meet certain requirements.

On-campus housing: If you live on campus, you will pay the university for your room. You can pay online or in person at OneStop in the library.

Off-campus housing: The person or company who owns the apartment you rent will tell you how to pay, but most places accept credit cards and checks—not cash.

Make sure you bring a small supply of toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.). You can buy more after you arrive, but it’s a good idea to have enough for the first few days.

You probably don’t want to bring much for your bedroom because it will be take up too much valuable space in your luggage.

After you arrive in Knoxville, you can buy bed linens, kitchen items, and anything else you might need for your room or apartment. If you have a roommate, you can probably share responsibilities for purchasing those items. Keep in mind that residence halls already have furniture in them, and some apartments are also furnished.

Wal-Mart is very close to campus, and that is where many ELI students purchase their bedding and kitchen supplies. Some specialized items can be purchased at West Town Mall, which is on the same bus route as UT.

Besides items for your room, you might want to pack the following:

  • medication that you are currently taking (access to prescription drugs will vary in the US)
  • documentation of your medical history if you are under treatment or prone to illness
  • non-prescription remedies that you may commonly use
  • personal hygiene products that may not be available in the US
  • seasonal clothing (like a winter coat if you will be in Knoxville during the colder months)
  • sports equipment (like a tennis racket or cleats); keep in mind that some sports equipment is available to borrow from TRECs, UT’s recreation facility
  • small items from your country that you can use as gifts for friends or other people you meet
  • photocopy of your passport main page (keep this separate from the original)

There are a variety of meal plans offered to all students, regardless of whether they live on or off campus. You can read more here. There are also many restaurants on and near campus.

Most ELI students bring their lunches and eat in the student lounge, or they eat in downtown Knoxville. Because of the distance from ELI, eating lunch in a campus dining hall is not practical for most students, but many enjoy eating there for other meals.

Not all rooms in the residence halls have kitchens, but all the buildings do. If your room doesn’t have a kitchen, you can use the shared kitchen in your building.

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We start orientation with a placement test so that ELI knows which class levels are the most appropriate for you.

You will also do the following:

  • pay for your tuition, books, health insurance, and activities fee
  • get a NetID for the campus computer system
  • get a UT email address (your netID and password)
  • go on a tour of campus
  • get a VolCard (your UT identification card)
  • learn how to access the campus computer system
  • learn how to create a bank account
  • get your class schedule and books
  • learn about ELI, UT, and Knoxville
  • meet and get to know your new classmates

Wal-Mart is very close to campus, and that is where most ELI students purchase their bedding and kitchen supplies. Some specialized items can be purchased at West Town Mall which is on the same bus route as UT.

Bring your passport.

Bring cash or credit card to make payments for tuition and other fees.

If you want to live on campus, bring your vaccination records.

Bring a smile! Since you will get your VolCard during orientation, don’t be surprised that you’re going to have your photo taken.

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ELI Classes:

We start classes five times per year. Each term is 8 weeks long.

Spring I: begins in January

Spring II: begins in March

Summer: begins in June

Fall I: begins in August

Fall II: begins in October

For exact dates, click here.

The placement test during orientation helps ELI know which class levels are the most appropriate for you.

If you enroll as a full-time student, we place you in all the classes you need. Full-time students take classes in grammar, reading, writing, listening/speaking, and an elective topic. Note: new students are required to take “New Student Orientation,” which normally takes place a few days before classes begin. During orientation, you will learn about ELI, university life and campus resources.

If you enroll as a part-time students, you will tell us which topics you want to study, and we will place you in classes of the appropriate level.

Listening / Speaking 9:00 am – 9:50 am

Monday – Friday

Grammar 10:00 am – 10:50 am

Monday – Friday

Writing 11:00 am – 11:50 am

Monday – Friday

Reading 12:40 pm – 1:35 pm

Monday – Friday

Elective (options announced at the beginning of each term) 1:45 pm – 2:30 pm

Monday/Wednesday & Tuesday/Thursday

F-1 students are required to attend electives

ELI usually offers a TOEFL prep class as an elective.

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ELI hosts activities for students and staff every term. The activities are designed to help students learn about culture, have fun, and get to know each other.

Activities are announced by teachers in class as well as on ELI’s social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), on the events section of the ELI website, and on the bulletin board in the hallway.

Examples of previous events:

  • international potluck lunch
  • picnic at the park
  • live radio show and lunch
  • Halloween party with pumpkin decorating
  • Valentine’s Day party with card decorating for local children’s hospital
  • blanket-making for sick children
  • downtown scavenger hunt
  • football game tailgating party

ELI hosts three free activities for students every term. Sometimes ELI offers additional activities that might require a fee for transportation or a ticket. That information will always be included in announcements. 

ELI students are also invited to participate in I-House activities. Some of them require registration and payment, and some are free. You can learn more here.

There is always something happening at UT and in Knoxville! We share announcements for many campus and community events on the bulletin board calendar in the ELI hallway.

Below are some websites that are great references for local activities and events:

UT International House Programs

UT Organizations: There are over 500 campus organizations!

UT Volink: This site lists upcoming events. After you get your NetID, you can log in for even more information.

UT Athletics: All UT athletic events are listed on this calendar.

UT RecSports Outdoor Adventure Trips

UT Intramurals: Athletic teams and events in which UT students compete against each other. 

UT RecSports Schedule: Group classes and recreation center information

VisitKnoxville: Tourism information for Knoxville, including events, festivals, maps, and recommendations

ELI students with F-1 visas are required to pay the UT activities fee. 

It is used to provide a variety of services to students. By paying the fee, you have access to the Aquatics Center, Student Health Service, TRECS, the Student Union, and more. It also pays for student activities at UT and permits you to reserve or purchase athletic tickets at a special cost for students only.

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About admission to other UT programs

Learn more about undergraduate admissions here.

Learn more about graduate admissions here.

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If you have other questions about the program or about your stay in Tennessee, contact