On this page you will find answers to the most common questions regarding our programs, application process, and student services. If you have any other questions or would like to receive more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.
Where is Hillsborough Community College located?
HCC is located in the vibrant waterfront city of Tampa, Florida, and surrounding Hillsborough County. The Tampa Bay region is home to magnificent marine life, sports attractions, world-class cultural venues, and great shopping and dining. You’ll find a wide range of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking, fishing, scuba-diving, sailing, boating, and kayaking. Tampa boasts attractions such as Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, Zoo Tampa, and the Museum of Science and Industry. Popular Florida theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld are just a short drive away.
What makes Hillsborough Community College a great school to attend?
HCC offers lower tuition costs, affordable, on-campus housing, small classes, a diverse student population, a dedicated and accessible faculty, seamless transfer to a four-year university, and five convenient campus locations. Located in the Tampa Bay area with its warm tropical climate, nearby white-sand beaches and year-round recreation, Hillsborough Community College is an ideal place to study.
What programs does HCC offer?
HCC offers over 160 associate degree, career and university transfer programs.
The Associate in Arts (AA) degree is designed for students who plan to pursue a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the United States. In addition to satisfying general education requirements for a four-year degree, students take introductory courses in their intended, upper division major. As a result, some AA students learn that their intended major is a good fit; others decide to change majors. Transfer agreements with public and private four-year colleges and universities allow for a seamless transition.
HCC also offers Associate in Science (AS) degrees. While many AS degrees also transferable, HCC offers several innovative AS degrees that prepare graduates for immediate employment in fields such as Business Administration, Accounting, Computer Sciences, or Hospitality and Tourism Management.
In addition, HCC offers College Credit Certificates (CCC), which allow students to earn a certificate within 1-3 semesters and explore a new field without the time commitment of a full degree program. When students complete a CCC in 2+ semesters, they are eligible to apply for OPT, a one-year work authorization in the United States.
International F-1 visa students can currently choose from four CCC programs: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Food and Beverage Operations, Business Management, and Event Planning Management.
I want to earn my Bachelor's degree, but I am not sure what I want to major in. Am I wasting my time studying at a community college?
No, quite the contrary is true. For international students who intend to earn a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the United States, HCC is a great place to start. HCC prepares students for hundreds of possible transfer majors.
The first two years of study at a U.S. college or university is spent completing general education and pre-major courses that prepare students for their intended major course of study. The general studies or liberal arts curriculum at HCC qualifies students to transfer as a third-year student to a four-year college or university. After earning an Associate in Arts (AA) degree at HCC, students may transfer to one of Florida's 12 public universities, or to other four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States.
How do I apply for admission to HCC as an international student?
What is the deadline for submitting an application?
For initial F-1 visa students who are coming to the United States directly from their home countries:
Fall Term (August – December) June 15 Spring Term (January – May) November 1 Summer Term (May - August) March 15
For F-1 visa students who are transferring to HCC from another institution within the United States (i.e. an English language school, a U.S. college or university):
Fall Term (August – December) July 15 Spring Term (January – May) November 15 Summer Term (May - August) April 15
Begin the application process EARLY! We encourage you to complete the application process at least four months prior to the term you would like to start to allow for visa processing.
How can I pay the application fee?
The one-time, non-refundable application fee of $50.00 can be paid online, via international wire transfer through Flywire, or at the HCC Cashier Offices.
Do I need to have insurance?
Yes. All international students are required to carry health insurance that is valid for a minimum period of one year. Proof of insurance is required for each year of enrollment. Insurance plans with premiums and benefits directed to the needs of international students are available through Insurance for Students, Inc. (IFS). Health insurance through IFS is mandatory for all international students unless proof of comparable insurance is provided to IFS and the Center for International Education. IFS must confirm that the student's coverage is comparable.
Do I have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before I can be admitted to HCC?
HCC does not offer Intensive English classes. In order to pursue a full course of study in either the Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree programs as an F-1 international student, you must demonstrate the ability to speak, read, write, and understand English at a level appropriate for college-level studies.
International students whose native language is not English must provide proof of their level of English proficiency. There are many ways to fulfill the English language proficiency requirement, including a minimum TOEFL score of 61 (iBT), or a minimum band score of 5.5 on the IELTS test, or a 90+ on the Duolingo English Test. Learn more about F-1 International Requirements, and select the Prove English Proficiency drop down box.
How long will it take to get my acceptance materials and I-20 form?
After you have met all of the admission requirements, HCC will send you an Acceptance Letter and a Form I-20, usually within one week. Non-immigrant students may apply for a visa at the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence up to 120 days prior to the program start date on their Form I-20. Transfer students will be issued an I-20 form after HCC receives their SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System) record from their current school.
What do I need to give the embassy when I apply for a student visa?
Each embassy site will list the specific documents needed for each country. In general, students need to complete the visa application, provide a photograph, an original Form I-20, the original letter of admission, and financial evidence. In some countries, the consular officer may want to see the transcripts of previous study and the TOEFL score.
Hillsborough Community College recognizes the value of working with recruitment representatives to assist international students in preparing to study in the United States. As such, we are proud to work closely with a limited number of representatives from around the world.
How much does it cost to attend Hillsborough Community College?
We estimate that an average student should have at least US $21,210.00 to cover tuition, academic and living expenses for one academic year (nine months). This is an estimate; many students may need more than this. Tuition and fees currently amount to $9,111.00 for 24 credit hours.
I do not have sufficient funds available to finance my education. Can I apply for any financial assistance or scholarships from HCC?
International students attending HCC on an F-1 visa are not eligible for financial aid. All international applicants planning to study at HCC on F-1 visas must have proof of sufficient funds to cover academic and living expenses in order to be admitted.
We offer a very limited number of scholarships to current HCC international students, but students need to be enrolled at the college in order to apply. You can read more about the scholarship opportunities for HCC international students at F-1 Financial Assistance.
Can an F-1 student work while studying at HCC?
F-1 visa holders, who are registered as full-time students and who are in good academic standing, may work up to 20 hours per week on-campus only during the regular academic year. Government-funded “work study” positions on campus are not available to international students. On-campus jobs for F-1 international students are few; therefore, students should not depend on on-campus employment to cover education or living expenses.
On-campus employment is strictly limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters. Full-time employment (more than 20 hours per week) on campus is allowed during breaks between semesters. F-1 students require authorization from their International Student Advisor every semester. The Center for International Education prefers that international students complete at least one term before pursuing on-campus employment.
When does school start, and when should I physically be in town?
We recommend that you arrive in Tampa two to four weeks prior to starting school, so you can get settled in before classes begin. However, you may not enter the United States more than 30 days before your program start date listed on the I-20. You must report your entry into the United States to the Center for International Education and complete the mandatory immigration document check-in process. Failure to do so may prevent you from registration and may cause termination of your SEVIS record.
When I arrive in Tampa, where do I need to report my arrival?
You are required to complete the mandatory immigration document check-in process 1-2 days after your arrival in Tampa. You will receive an email notification with instructions regarding the type of documents you will need to submit and where and how to submit them online.
What is a DSO?
DSO stands for designated school official. A DSO issues and signs Forms I-20, updates SEVIS, and assists in other immigration matters dealing with F-1 students.
Do I have to attend orientation?
The orientation is mandatory for all new (initial and transfer) international students. It currently consists of several components: an Enrollment Kick-off session, college placement testing (if required), as well online orientation modules and quizzes. If you do not complete all required components, you will have a hold on your student account that will prevent you from registering for classes for the term. This will result in the termination of your F-1 student status, and you will be required to return home.
What is a semester credit hour?
Academic credit is expressed in semester credit hours. Generally, one class lecture hour per week for the semester earns one semester credit hour. Therefore, three lecture hours a week account for three semester credit hours.
How many distance education courses can I take as an international student?
International students can take no more than the equivalent of one online/distance education class or three credit hours per semester towards the “full course of study” requirement. F-1 international students are required to be in the classroom for nine out of the 12 required credit hours in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulations currently allow for additional distance education hours. However, as a new, initial F-1 student you are not permitted to enroll in all online classes.
What are the minimum standards for continuing in college?
The minimum is a cumulative GPA of 2.0 (refer to the academic progress section in the HCC Catalog). You cannot make less than a 2.0 GPA, or you are jeopardizing your F-1 status.
Can I transfer my courses from HCC to a university or any other college?
HCC has many partnerships for students to transfer to excellent universities around the United States. The 2+2 path allows you to start your education at a community college (typically 2 years) and finish your bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university (typically another 2 years).
HCC has statewide articulation agreements, program-specific transfer agreements and transfer agreements by institution that allow you to apply credits earned in Associate in Arts and Science degree programs at HCC to a particular academic program at the other (public or private) institution. Articulation agreements benefit students by outlining clear academic pathways. They also help reduce the number of courses needed to take to complete a degree, saving you time and money.
If you intend to transfer, consult with your HCC International Student Advisor, who will work with you to map out your education plan.
As an international (F-1 visa) student, I understand that I must be a full-time student. If so, how many credits must I carry?
All international F-1 visa students must be enrolled full-time. A full-time load is 12 credit hours or more each term. HCC's academic year consists of the Fall, Spring and Summer terms. If Summer is your first term, you must carry 12 credits.
What must I do if I am unable to enroll in 12 credit hours or if I must drop below the minimum number of credits during the Fall or Spring Semester?
By immigration law you must pursue a "full course of study." This means you need to be enrolled in 12 semester credit hours to keep your status as an F-1 student. If you cannot enroll in or complete 12 credit hours at HCC for any reason, you must speak with your International Student Advisor before dropping below full-time status! Dropping below full-time status will affect your F-1 status and is only available in certain situations. If you have a legitimate reason (i.e., a medical or academic problem), your request must be approved before you can drop below full time.
Can an F-1 student apply for an off-campus work permit?
If needed, you may apply for a work permit due to severe economic hardship only. This process needs adjudication by USCIS. However, you need to be in the United States and in F-1 student status for at least one academic year (two semesters), be in good academic standing, and prove to USCIS that your reasons for wanting to work were due to circumstances beyond your control. You cannot begin work off-campus until this adjudication is received.
Current students should contact their International Student Advisor for more information about the qualifications and application procedures for this type of student work authorization.
Can my spouse and/or child, who are on F-2 visas, accept employment on or off-campus?
No! Holders of F-2 visas cannot accept employment under any circumstances.
What do I do if my passport expires or I lose it while I am within the U.S.?
Current students should contact their International Student Advisor and he/she will give you information on how to contact their local Consulate/Embassy for instructions to renew or replace a lost passport.
You may need to leave the United States to reestablish student status by reentering the country with a new I-20. For more information, please see your International Student Advisor to determine the best course of action for you.
May I apply for the F-1 visa within the United States?
F-1 visas are issued only at U.S. embassies and consulates outside of the territory of the United States.
What can HCC do if I have been denied the F-1 visa?
Students who are denied the F-1 visa need to obtain from the consular officer the precise reason for the denial and contact an International Student Advisor. Usually there is very little that any college or university can do when a visa is denied since denials are not based on the documents issued by the school but on the applicant’s ability to meet the criteria for a non-immigrant visa.
May I use the B tourist visa to study at HCC?
No. Applicants who are in the U.S. in B status must file a change of status to F-1 student with USCIS and be approved for F-1 status before they can begin to study. Applicants outside of the U.S. should seek the F-1 visa using the HCC Form I-20.
Who is eligible for on-campus housing at Hawks Landing?
All HCC students, including international students, are eligible for housing at Hawks Landing.
Where is Hawks Landing located?
HCC’s Hawks Landing apartments offer a great value, a convenient location, and most importantly, a fun living and learning atmosphere! Located adjacent to HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa, Hawks Landing provides fully furnished apartments, a resort-style swimming pool, a state-of-the-art computer lab, and a fitness center. The housing complex is only a few blocks away from shopping and restaurants.
How can I get more information about housing?
For leasing information, call 813.875.6000 or visit the Hawks Landing web page at at Hawks Landing
Do you have student activities?
Yes! HCC offers a variety of opportunities for students to broaden their horizons through cultural and special events on each campus, get involved in college life and make new friends. Each campus has clubs and organizations that serve student needs. Joining a club, getting involved in student activities, participating in athletics, or working on a college publication are just a few of the ways you can increase the value of your HCC experience.
What current COVID-19 protocols are in place at HCC?
Everyone at the college has been working tirelessly to ensure that we provide excellent academic programming and support services and all of the extracurricular activities that enrich the learning environment that make our campuses so vibrant.
With the new guidance issued by the CDC recommending the use of masks inside public buildings even for fully vaccinated individuals as a precaution given the broad circulation of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, members of the college community are expected to wear a mask or face coveringwhile inside college facilities.
Is the college requiring that all students get vaccinated?
Although it is not required, vaccines are highly effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Everyone in the HCC community is expected to follow these recommendations: get vaccinated and wear a mask while inside college buildings.
Do I need to quarantine after international travel?
Requirement for self-quarantine after travel is different depending on your vaccination status. If you are NOT vaccinated, you must stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. If you are not vaccinated, but plan to get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel, you are required to self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. For more information, please refer to CDC guidance on After International Travel.
Here’s what to know if you are NOT vaccinated:
Get tested 1-3 days before your flight.
Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel.
Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.
If you don’t get tested, stay home for 10 days after travel.
Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.