Finances: Part Two

*Disclaimer: Finance-related matters usually have many ways to settle and are often contingent on your personal financial situation. It is most prudent to discuss your financial options with your family or sponsor, as these can vary widely and can affect which option (or mix of options) you ultimately choose. We do not intend for this to be an exhaustive or authoritative guide to handling all financial issues you may face, but merely to address some common concerns you may have.

Matters to Consider

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not a prerequisite; many students do not have one. That said, many also do have one (or a few):

  • To build up their credit score
  • To enjoy rebates/discounts/points/sign-up bonuses
  • To reduce financial losses from fraud (e.g. if you lose your wallet)
  • To pay for certain services (e.g. some car rentals do not accept debit cards)


There are many options available, and there are websites dedicated to reviewing them. Some options will also be time-sensitive. As such, instead of presenting credit card options, here are some considerations:

  • Do you have a SSN? If not, you may want to look for cards that don’t require a SSN (e.g. Deserve) or cards that you can obtain by opening a bank account (e.g. BoA)
  • Do you have a way of transferring money into the account?

Paying for Your Taxes

This section pertains to those who have worked in the US. Here are some important things to note!

  • If you worked under a company, such as Marriott Vacations Club, taxes would have been withheld from your pay. However, as an international student, only federal taxes should be withheld (For the first five years, Social Security and Medicare taxes should not be withheld)
  • You can view what has been withheld when you receive your W2-Form in Janurary.
  • Tax Returns must be filed by April 15th, for the financial year before that. (It is always April 15th)
  • If the wrong taxes were withheld, please contact your employer to get them back.
  • Cornell ISSO provides International Students with free Tax Softeware, call SPRINTAX. Do not use Turbotax which is for residents! (Also note that it is only free for federal tax returns, you need to pay to get State returns)

Tax season can be stressful and confusing. Read up on ISSO's guide and attend their information sessions when tax season starts!