Orientation

Airport Pick-up:

All students should fly to the Grand Rapids International Airport (GRR). Orientation leaders will be waiting at the baggage claim. There are only three baggage carrousels at this airport, so it will be easy to find. Please supply your flight information a minimum of four days before your flight. You will receive an emergency contact number that you can call if there are any emergencies throughout your travel time.

We strongly suggest that you NOT attempt to take the train from the Chicago airport to Grand Rapids. Please book connecting flights that bring you to the Grand Rapids International Airport.

Orientation leaders will take students to Meijer, a supermarket chain, where they will be able to purchase any food, clothing, bedding or household items they may need. They will then help students move in to their new dorms or apartments on campus. Orientation leaders will have students’ keys.

Orientation Schedule:

Find a copy of the orientation schedule for undergraduate international students, as well as for graduate international students. It is mandatory that you attend the orientation sessions Note that there is a charge of $150.00 for the mandatory orientation, even if circumstances outside of your control require you to miss the orientation. The fee will be charged to your GVSU student account.

American Ambassador Program:
 
The focus of the student-led American Ambassador program is to create partnerships between domestic students and yourself, as an international student studying at Grand Valley. The ambassadors provide a support network for you, should you need assistance or want someone to talk to. It is a wonderful opportunity for students on both sides to come together and promote cross-cultural growth.
Mentor Position Description:
 
The only formal commitment Americans have to the American Ambassador Program is to be a tour guide for a few hours during the international student downtown orientation session.
 
In addition, we encourage you to connect with your American Ambassadors during the tour in hopes of forming friendships that can continue beyond orientation. Ambassadors can help you become acclimated to the Grand Valley and local communities, as well as make you aware of various events throughout campus and beyond. By exchanging phone numbers or connecting via Facebook, you may find it easier to stay in touch with your American ambassadors. This is a great opportunity to befriend Americans during your time in the United States!

Immigration Registration:

Immigration registration will be done during orientation. This will include passport, visa, I-94, I-20 and DS-2019 as well as verifying your SEVIS record.

 

Orientation Documents:

After your arrival to the United States. please take a few moments to complete the following mandatory forms. Please also bring a copy of your passport, I94, visa, and I-20 or DS 2019 with you to orientation.

Student Information

Health Insurance Information

F1 regulations (for students with an I20)

J1 regulations (for students with a DS 2019)

Banking Information

Hotels:

If your flight arrives a day or so early, or later than midnight on the day of pick-up, there are a number of hotels near the Grand Rapids International Airport that you may find useful.

Cell Phones:

We recommend you purchase a pay-as-you-go plan upon arrival to Grand Valley. After you have applied for and received your Social Security number, you will be able to purchase a service contract for your cell phone if you wish.

Prepaid plans:

T-mobile

AT&T

Virgin Mobile

Banking:
 
Bank of America (616-791-4250) www.BankofAmerica.com
 
2000 Lake Michigan Drive, (South-west corner of Lake Michigan Drive & Covell Rd., directly across from bus stop)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa or passport, U.S. address.
 
2. Check cashing without account: no.

3. Check cashing with account: $6.00 charge.

4. Incentives for students to open account: Currently, $100 bonus for setting up a new account with automatic deposit function and receiving a deposit via automatic deposit within 90 days of setting up account.
 
5. Special Note: Works closely with ELS, has translation and phone help lines available.
 
 
 
Chase Bank (616-771-7027) www.chase.com
 
2705 Lake Michigan Drive, (North side of Lake Michigan Drive, next to Family Fare, Collindale & Lake Michigan Dr.)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa and passport, U.S. address
 
2. Check cashing without account: no
 
3. Check cashing with account: $6.00 charge and ID required.
 
4. Incentives for students to open account: “Chase College Checking” is free for students 17-24 years old for up to five years, free transfers between accounts, free account alerts, free debit card.
 
 
 
Chemical Bank (616-588-3810) www.ChemicalBankMI.com
 
5980 Lake Michigan Drive, (South side of the corner of Lake Michigan Drive and 60th St, adjoins Valley Church)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa or passport, U.S. address, home driver’s license ok as secondary ID. 
 
2. Check cashing without account: no.
 
3. Check cashing with account: free
 
4. Incentives for student to open account: Free checking, free debit card, free online access and “pop cash” functionality, earn points toward gift cards with debit card use.
 
 
 
Fifth Third Bank (616-771-1738) www.53.com
 
351 Covel Rd., (South-west corner of Lake Michigan Drive and Covell Rd, next to Bank of America)
4520 Lake Michigan Dr (616-771-5771)
(South side of Lake Michigan Drive next to Meijer; bus stops directly in front of bank and across the street from bank.) 
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa and passport, U.S. address
 
2. Check cashing without account: no
 
3. Check cashing with account: $6.00 fee
 
4. Incentives for student to open account: Free student checking, free debit card, on-
campus ATMs, gift card with new account, free mobile banking and text alerts, “pop cash” and “text talents” functionality. Automatic enrollment for scholarship program.
 
5. Special Note: Fifth Third has language specialists on staff and on-call for almost any country.
 
 
 
Flagstar Bank (616-735-4699) www.flagstar.com
 
4364 Lake Michigan Drive, (South side of Lake Michigan Drive across from McDonald’s. Bus stop directly out front.)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa or passport, home ID, such as DL, must have U.S. address
 
2. Check cashing without account: no
 
3. Check cashing with account: all payroll checks are free, checks drawn on personal accounts require two days to clear and are also free, but customer must have equivalent balance in checking or savings to receive cash in real time.
 
4. Incentives for student to open account: Free checking, free debit, earn points with debit card use, full online functionality.
 
 

 

Huntington Bank www.Huntington.com
 
3901 Lake Michigan Drive (616-771-6252), North side of road across from Wendy’s and bus stop. 6065 Lake Michigan Drive (616-895-7495), North side of road on far west end of Allendale, no bus service.
173 Ottawa Ave NW (616-771-6256), downtown location, within walking distance of campus.
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa and passport, must have U.S. address
 
2. Check cashing without account: Over $200 requires 2 forms of ID and $6.00 fee. Under $200, 2 forms of ID, no fee.
 
3. Check cashing with account: free, no restrictions
 
4. Incentives for student to open account: free checking, free debit, full online functionality, mobile banking and text alerts, free ID theft resolution services, 24-hour grace period from overdraft fees.
 
 
 
Independent Bank (616-735-2293) www.IndependentBank.com
 
4525 Lake Michigan Drive, (North side of road directly across from Meijer and 53 bank, bus stop directly out front of bank.)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: F1 visa or passport, DL, U.S. address.
 
2. Check cashing without account: Free if drawn on Independent Bank, otherwise no.
 
3. Check cashing with account: free, no restrictions.
 
4. Incentives for student to open account: Free online banking, bill pay, transfers, etc. $10 gift certificate for personal referrals. Drive-thru staffed on Sundays from 11am to 2pm.
 
 
 
Lake Michigan Credit Union (616-234-6764) www.lmcu.org
 
2720 Lake Michigan Drive, (South side of road across from Family Fare near the corner of Collindale and Lake Michigan Drive. Bus stops on both sides of intersection.)
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: Visa or I-20, passport, U.S. address
 
2. Check cashing with account: free, no restrictions
 
3. Check cashing without account: no
 
4. Incentives for students to open account: Free “Max Checking,” 3% interest on balances up to $15,000, free ATM use, 1st check order is free, free online banking, transfers, etc. ATM’s located on campus.
 
 
 
Macatawa Bank www.macatawabank.com
 
6299 Lake Michigan Drive (616-895-9893), across from Allendale Family Fare, west end of town, no bus service.
126 Ottawa Ave N.W. (877-820-2265), downtown, within walking distance of campus.
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: Visa or passport, must have U.S. address, will need to fill out a W-8. Non-U.S. driver’s licenses not useable as ID.
 
2. Check cashing with account: free, no restrictions.
 
3. Check cashing without account: no
 
4. Incentives for students to open account: I-checking; no minimum balance, unlimited debit card, free online banking, 10 free paper checks per month, automatic bill pay, free statements via email, “pop cash” functionality available.
 
 
 
PNC Bank www.PNC.com
 
5111 Lake Michigan Drive (616-892-5111) North side of Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale next to Jet’s Pizza. No bus service.
171 Monroe Ave NW (616-771-8701) Downtown location, within walking distance of campus.
 
1. ID needed if no SS# or ITIN#: Visa or passport, U.S. address. Secondary ID: credit card, student ID, home DL.
 
2. Check cashing with account: free and no restrictions if drawn on PNC Bank
 
3. Check cashing without account: no
 
4. Incentives for students to open account: Custom designed program specifically for college students called “Virtual Wallet.” Free, high-tech accounts with direct deposit. Online, mobile and text banking available, spending alerts, auto-bill pay functions. Two teller machines on campus.

 

Page last modified July 16, 2014