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English Programs for Internationals

Future Students

Welcome, future students! We are pleased that you are considering studying at EPI. With over 40 years of teaching  English, you will find EPI an exciting and fun learning environment.  

EPI is a part of the University of South Carolina, and our students attend classes on campus side by side with university students. Our university is a very strong school with high quality education and a diverse student body. EPI students are an active part of the overall campus community, joining clubs, attending campus events, and making friends with other students as well as people from the Columbia community. These opportunities are an important part of a student's life here and make learning a very exciting and dynamic experience.

Efficient language learning extends beyond the classroom, and ideally the language learner is immersed in the new language and culture in a way that encourages active interaction with native speakers of that language. Therefore, the language learner can practice the skills learned in the classroom while he or she develops an understanding of the new culture. 

Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, is a friendly, safe city that welcomes international students with southern hospitality. Columbia is a typical American city which has many varied activities to offer in the arts, sports, recreation, shopping, dining, and entertainment.  

How to Apply

If you have completed an application before, please DO NOT complete another form. Send an email with your name to 

Tuition and campus fees are required for all students and include instruction, activities, academic counseling, computer laboratory fees, and services of the campus health center. Medical insurance is also required. The student will have to pay for housing, food, and textbooks. All fees are subject to change without notice. 

If you are transferring from another school in the US, we will help you with the process in SEVIS. 

Applicants must be at least 17 years old and have graduated from a secondary school. 

You will need a student visa to study at EPI. 

Before EPI can send you an I-20 form, we must have the following items: 

  • Completed Application for Intensive English 
  • Application fee payment (payable online) 
  • Financial certification  
  • A copy of the identity page of your passport
  • Pay the tuition deposit (refundable within 5 months of payment, only if visa is denied)

If you would like to apply to the Intensive English program at EPI, please fill out and submit the on-line application (follow directions for payment). 

Some students may be required to have a letter from a university explaining that they can be admitted to the university after completing the EPI intensive program. This is called a Conditional Letter of Admission. 

If you are interested in housing, please select the appropriate option on the EPI application.

Our office offers programs during five time periods (Fall I, Fall II, Spring I, Spring II, and Summer). Below are the current dates for scheduled EPI programs. 

Please email if you have questions about these dates or dates for other programs. 




Campus Fees 

Medical Insurance 

Fall II 2023

October 18 – December 15





 2024 costs to be determined.




Spring I 2024

January 03 – March 01




Spring II 2024

March 06 – May 03




Summer 2024

May 15 – July 12




Fall I 2024

August 19 – October 11




Fall II 2024

October 16 – December 20




* All fees are subject to change without notice. 

**Medical Insurance is required. If you have health insurance from your country, you may apply for a waiver to opt out of our insurance. It is very important that if you plan to do this that you have a copy of your policy in English and that it includes the benefits and exclusions. 

*** There is also a non-refundable application fee of $125. This fee is valid for the term applied for. If you must defer to a later term, the fee will be valid only for one deferral. Additional deferrals are possible, but will require an additional $125 fee. 

Other estimated costs (per term) 

  • *Tuition and Fees ($2500)* - 2024 costs to be determined
  • **Medical Insurance ($600)** (see above)
  • Housing ($2,000) 
  • Living expenses ($1,700)
  • Books ($200) 

The estimated total cost of attendance for one semester is $7,000.

You will need a student visa (F-1 visa) to study at EPI. 

  • Complete the EPI application and pay the application fee 
  • Send the required financial certification 
  • Pay the tuition deposit

Upon completion of the above steps you will receive your I-20 form. Once you have the I-20, you need to make an appointment at the U.S. embassy in your home country.  

You will also need to pay the SEVIS fee (form I-901) before you go to the embassy. 

  • Go to
  • Select “Pay 1-901 Fee” and complete the form. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
  • Print a copy of the online receipt. Keep a copy for yourself.
  • Bring the receipt of fee payment to the interview. 

Learn more about student visas at Travel State

To get a scholarship, some students may be required to have a letter from a university explaining that they can be admitted to the university as an undergraduate after completing the EPI intensive program. This letter is called a Conditional Letter of Admission. 

The choice of housing and accommodations for your time studying at EPI is one of the biggest decisions future students must make. The staff of EPI is committed to helping you secure housing while you are a student in our Intensive English program. If you already have housing in Columbia, please let us know; otherwise, please indicate on your application the type of housing you would like. 

On-Campus Housing

English Program for Internationals is part of the University of South Carolina. EPI students may apply to live in University owned and operated residence halls. Students will live among degree-seeking American and international students. This is a great option for students wishing to immerse themselves in campus life. The majority of USC residence halls house both male and female students, but roommates and suitemates will always be of the same gender. There is one female only residence hall (Women’s Quad) and one male only residence hall (McBryde). 

EPI Students typically stay in two styles of on-campus housing: 

  • Suite Style student housing is 1 room shared between 2 students, but will include its own bathroom and shower area to be shared between both students.  
  • Apartment Style student housing are commonly either 4 separate bedrooms or 2 separate bedrooms, with each resident generally having their own private room. These living spaces also include a living area, kitchen, and bathroom to be shared between students living in the apartment.  

Housing fees vary according to the size and location of the apartment. USC Housing has additional information on the cost of on-campus housing, On-campus housing spaces are limited, so there is no guarantee that on-campus housing will be available, nor is there any guarantee that you will be placed in the residence hall of your choice. If there is no housing available on campus, EPI staff will help you secure off-campus housing. 

Off-Campus Housing 

A majority of our students reside in off-campus housing. There are many apartments and housing options available around the University campus and in downtown Columbia. If you decide to bring your spouse and/or family with you, or if you just want to live off campus, we will help you to locate a suitable place to live outside the University campus (costs vary). Students living of-campus sign a lease (a contract) with the property managers for the rental of the apartment or house.  

USC’s Off-Campus Housing Office is also a helpful source of information for finding housing.  

PLEASE NOTE: EPI does NOT have any temporary housing available for students upon their arrival. If you arrive in Columbia without housing secured, please be prepared to spend at least two nights in a hotel while EPI staff assists you in locating housing. We can generally find satisfactory housing for a student within 48 hours. 

How to Apply

When completing the EPI application for the Intensive English Program, please check the appropriate spot for the housing option of your choice, indicating either on-campus or off-campus housing. Then, you will contact one of the two following people: 

  • For on-campus housing, please contact Chris Reid at or call him at 803-777-4802 
  • For off-campus housing please contact EPI’s Off-Campus Student Services Coordinator, Julia Ferillo, at or call her at 803-413-3437. 
Things to Consider 

Bedding and Linens - You will need to bring with you (or purchase when you arrive) bed linens, towels, a study lamp, cleaning supplies, and utensils for cooking and eating.  

Food - There are different ways to get your meals. You may prepare your meals in your apartment, which is relatively inexpensive but time-consuming. You may eat in university cafeterias, which is more expensive. You may eat in a restaurant, which is the most expensive. In addition to the above estimated cost, you may need money to buy personal items and to pay for entertainment. 

Do you want to transfer to EPI from another school in the United States? Talk to the DSO at your school to find out how to transfer your SEVIS record. We will also assist you with this process if you are transferring from another school in the United States. 

New Transfer-In Students 

New students who wish to transfer to EPI from another program must complete the application process required of all new students. 

In addition, transfer-in students must request their current program to send a transcript of their academic work directly to EPI. If the transcript shows attendance has not been sufficient to meet EPI's requirement of at least 80% or if performance grades are poor (below a 2.0 GPA), that student will NOT be accepted. 

Returning Transfer-In Students 

Former EPI students who transferred from EPI in good standing (no required transfer) will be accepted in EPI under the same standards as the New Student Transfer-In Policy. 

Former EPI students who were required by EPI policy to transfer-out MAY be accepted if they meet the following requirements: 

  • Have successfully completed at least one full term of study at another program. Successful completion = a grade of C (2.0 GPA) or better and 80% attendance or better in all courses. 
  • Will be retested and placed according to the results of EPIís placement tests. For example, if a student was required to transfer out of EPI having been in levels WG4/RV4/SL5 and is retested into levels WG3/RV4/SL4, the student will be placed in these “lower” levels. 
  • Will be on probation the first term that they return if they were were required to transfer out due to poor attendance. 
Students Returning after 2 or More Terms 

Former EPI students who left EPI in good standing and have been out of the country for 2 or more terms may be accepted as new students with no restrictions. However, returning former students will be retested and placed according to the latest placement test scores, not according to data from previous terms at EPI. 

You can also download the Transfer Form [pdf] and take it to your current school’s DSO. 

Undergraduate Conditional Letter of Admission 

USC offers undergraduate conditional admissions to international applicants who meet the academic requirements, but don't meet the minimum English proficiency standards (TOEFL PBT 550 or iBT 77 - IELTS 6.5 - PTE 53). For conditional admission, students must first successfully complete the appropriate level English language courses with our office or fulfill the USC English Language Proficiency requirement before being allowed to enroll in university courses. 

How to apply for Conditional Undergraduate Admission at the University of South Carolina 

Graduate Conditional Letter of Admission 

Some USC departments offer graduate conditional admissions to international applicants who meet the academic requirements but don't meet the minimum English proficiency standards of the department. For admission, students must fulfill the USC English Language Proficiency requirement of the department before being allowed to enroll in university courses.  

For a Conditional Letter of Admission to graduate study at the University of South Carolina, you must email to contact us. 

A Conditional Letter of Admission does not guarantee admission to the University of South Carolina. You must meet all conditions stated in the letter. 

Arrival and Orientation

Weather - The weather in the United States varies based on your location, the season, and the time of day. Americans use the Fahrenheit scale to calculate temperatures (32 degrees is freezing). Columbia has an overall warm climate. Winters are mild; snowfall may occur, but rarely lasts more than a day. 

Average Seasonal Temperatures for the Southeast Region: 

  • Winter 4 - 20 C (40 - 60 F) 
  • Spring 13 - 24 C (55 to 75 F) 
  • Summer 24 - 29 C (75 - 88 F) 
  • Fall 14 - 24 C (58 - 75 F) 

What to Pack: Loose, breathable clothing items like jeans, cotton shirts, and comfortable walking shoes. Be sure to bring clothes you can wash in a washing machine. A more detailed list can be found below: 

  • A jacket, sweater and a warm coat (in the summer the classrooms are air-conditioned, in the winter, it will be colder outside and may snow once or twice)  
  • Clothes for exercise and sports
  • Winter gloves, scarf, and hat (from November to February)
  • Rainwear (umbrella, raincoat, waterproof shoes)
  • Swimwear, sunglasses, a hat, sandals, etc.
  • Cultural clothes from your country (optional)
  • One dressy outfit (optional) 
  • This page on the International Student Services website has good packing tips as well.

Documents: There are many documents that are required for your travel, entry, and residence in the United States and your enrollment in EPI. These documents are: 

  • Transcripts in a sealed envelope from your school 
  • Medical records and history (illnesses or injuries, surgeries, medications you take) 
  • Credit card(s), traveler’s check(s), or US currency (cash). Please note that it can take several days to exchange your currency. 
  • Photocopies of your passport and other important documents (visa, acceptance letter, etc.)  in case they are lost or stolen
  • List of important addresses, phone numbers, and billing address of any credit card you bring
  • International Driver’s License (optional)
  • If you plan to drive a car in the U.S., it is best to bring an international driver’s license, which is valid for 6 months if you are a tourist. EPI can help you get a U.S. driver’s license. Most states require that you get the state’s driver’s license within 90 days of becoming a resident of that state.
  • Photographs of friends, family, hometown, etc. (optional) 
Before You Arrive at USC 

Documents - Bring your complete medical records: past sicknesses, operations/surgeries, immunization records, and medications you are taking.   

Medicine - The United States requires prescriptions from doctors to purchase most medicine from a pharmacy. You may need a prescription from your doctor to purchase the medicine in the United States. Please bring extra and a prescription with you. 

Required Health Insurance

Insurance is required for enrollment in EPI. There are two options available: 

Be sure to review the Healthcare and Insurance section on our Living in Columbia page.

Our office is happy to meet students at the airport, train or bus station and take them to their housing facilities when arrival information is provided to us. This service is free of charge!

Please complete this request form if you would like arrival assistance. Please send your arrival information as soon as you have it so that we can make arrangements and ensure someone is there to meet you. 

  • If there are any changes in your travel plans, or if your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know. We can be reached via phone at 803-777-3867 (EPI office, 08:30-17:00 M-F) or 803-777-4802 (EPI Student Services). 

Airport  - After landing in Columbia, go to the baggage claim area downstairs and we will meet you there. Look for someone carrying a sign (or wearing a t-shirt) with English Programs for Internationals (EPI) on it. 

If no one has met you at the baggage claim area after 20 minutes, go to the information desk at the top of the escalator and ask the person to call 803-777-3867 (EPI office, 08:30-17:00 M-F) or 803-777-4802 (EPI Student Services). If you arrive before 06:30 or after 22:30 you will need 75 cents for a pay phone, since the airport information office will be closed or you can use your mobile phone to call us (if your device has been set-up to work internationally). 

Train or bus - At the train or bus station, go to the waiting area. If no one has met you in the waiting area after 20 minutes, go to the information desk and ask the person to call 803-777-3867 (EPI office, 08:30-17:00 M-F) or 803-777-4802 (EPI Student Services). 

If you are unable to contact us during office hours (08:30-17:00, Monday-Friday), take a taxi to: 

Close-Hipp Building 
English Programs for Internationals 
Suite 403 
1705 College St 
Columbia, SC 29208 

After 17:00 or on weekends take a taxi to:  

Courtyard Marriott - Downtown at USC 
630 Assembly Street 
Columbia, South Carolina 29201 
Reservations: 803-799-7800 
Fax: 803-252-5909 

Be sure to tell the receptionist that you are an EPI student. You will need to prove that you are an EPI student. You can show your acceptance letter or your I-20. In the morning call EPI (777-1228 or 777-4802) to let us know you have arrived. 



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