Frequently Asked Questions

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 We look forward to assisting you.






Student Life



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, Lowry Park Zoo, 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, new housing on campus, small classes, a diverse student population, a dedicated and accessible faculty, seamless transfer to a four-year university, Intensive English instruction, 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 are transferable, HCC offers several innovative AS degrees as well as college credit certificates for programs of less than two years that prepare graduates for employment in fields such as Business Administration, Accounting, Computer Sciences, and Hospitality and Tourism 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 11 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?

First, learn about our International Student admission requirements. Next, complete the online application process and submit all required additional documents by the deadline for the term you plan to enroll. If you have any questions regarding the application and admissions process, please contact us at

What is the deadline for submitting an application?

The deadlines for the 2018-2019 Academic Year are: 

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 15
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)                      December 1
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.

Can I apply online?

Yes. International students can now apply online through the Center for International Education's website at

How can I pay the application fee?

The one-time, non-refundable application fee of $50.00 can be paid by through HCC's Payment Gateway, money order, cashier's check or by personal check drawn on a bank in the United States (payable to "Hillsborough Community College"), or via international wire transfer through

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.  Health insurance through IFS is mandatory for all international students unless proof of comparable insurance is provided to IFS and the CIE. IFS must confirm that the student's coverage is comparable.

Visit for more information and to enroll online. 

Do I have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before I can be admitted to HCC?

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: 

  • Submit a passing TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 61 or higher.
  • Submit a passing IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 5.5 or higher.
  • Submit a passing iTEP score of 4.0 or higher.
  • Submit a certificate of completion of the 109 Level at an ELS Language Center, Level 5 at INTO USF, Level 6 Advanced at Tampa Language Center, or the highest level at an English Language Institute (ELI) at a regionally accredited school.
  • Submit a standard high school diploma of a U.S. high school which you attended for the entire senior year.
  • Submit an official transcript showing successful completion of English Composition 1 (ENC 1101) from another U.S. college or university. 
  • Submit a certificate of completion of the Kaplan High-Intermediate Level.

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 a Welcome 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?

Visa application procedures vary from country to country. Click here to find links to all of the U.S. embassies worldwide. 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.

Does HCC work with recruitment representatives?

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 do I establish a relationship with HCC?


If you are interested in establishing a relationship with HCC, please contact one of our recruitment managers to obtain a copy of the questionnaire and cooperation agreement.


Asia/Caribbean: Andrew Stephens at 813-253-7328,

Latin America/Europe: Ashley Sansotta at 813-253-7327,   



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 US $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. 

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 the International Student Advisor every semester. We prefer international students to 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 at the Center for International Education at 4001 W. Tampa Blvd. in Tampa prior to registration.

When I arrive in Tampa, where do I need to report my arrival?

You must go to the Center for International Education at 4001 W. Tampa Blvd. in Tampa to report with an International Student Advisor. Failure to do so will result in your inability to register for classes, and may cause a termination of your SEVIS record, and therefore subject you to deportation.

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 international students. If you do not attend the orientation, you will have a hold that will prevent you from registering for classes.

Who has to go to these orientations?

All incoming and transfer F-1 international students need to attend the orientation.

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, a class meeting three lecture hours a week has 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.

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 should not 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 transfer agreements with public and private four-year colleges and universities that allow for a seamless transition. If you intend to transfer, consult with your International Student Advisor.


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 as well.

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 the 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 U.S. 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.

Please contact your 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.?

Contact the International Student Advisor and he/she will give you information on how to contact your local Consulate/Embassy for instructions to renew or replace a lost passport.  Or visit or for more information.  

If I lose my F-1 status, what do I need to do?

You may need to leave the United States to re-establish student status by re-entering the country with a new I-20 or by filing a reinstatement request. For more information, please see your International Student Advisor to determine the best course for you.

May I apply for the F-1 visa within the United States?

F-1 visas are issued only at U.S. Embassies outside of the territory of the U.S.

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. Applicants outside of the U.S. should seek the F-1 visa using the HCC I-20.

Student Life

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?

Hillsborough Community College’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, and within walking distance of Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (American football), and Steinbrenner Field, spring training home of the 2009 Baseball World Series Champions, the New York Yankees.

How can I get more information about housing?

For leasing information, call 813-875-6000 or visit the Hawks Landing web page at

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.