International Students

Things to consider for incoming international graduate students

General information:

When moving to Santa Cruz from abroad, it's important to consider the high cost of housing and living. For housing, you can either apply for on-campus housing (more details here: or, as most grad students do, look for a place off-campus. Here are some helpful links:

Santa Cruz Housing Facebook page:

The Housing Registry:

UCSC Housing, Sublets & Roommates Facebook page:

UCSC's Community Rental Office's website:

Craiglist listings:

As an incoming international student, it is important to start looking for housing as early as possible, as Santa Cruz suffers from a shortage of affordable housing. Most incoming international grad students do not tend to have a credit score report, which landlords in Santa Cruz often require. Sending potential landlords your CV, bank statements, and/or previous landlord references from back in your home country is always a good idea. The Community Rental Office’s website has an online Renter’s Workshop ( that will explain all your rights as a renter in California and, upon completion, will give you a certificate that you can send to your potential landlord. The ISSSS (International Student & Scholar Services) has prepared a housing letter, available here, for those without a Social Security Number or credit history, which can be printed and sent as evidence of your financial solvency.

Experience tells us that finding a place is much easier when you contact your department, and ask your departmental advisor, or last year’s cohort for extra advice. Additionally, join the UCSC Graduate Student Association (GSA) Facebook group or the Official Group of UCSC Students Facebook group to ask questions about the process. Contacting potential landlords from abroad, and then staying in a motel or B&B for a couple of days upon arrival so that you can go and check out the rental properties on your own is also recommended. Always make sure that you are able to visit the place you want to rent yourself before signing a rental contract!

If possible, also bring an international credit card with you, as it might take a while before you are able to open a bank account. Take into account that your credit score upon arriving in the US will be low, which means that you can only get an American credit card with a limited spending amount once you have opened a bank account. Another tip is to make sure that your department has given you all the information you need about your fellowship/TAship situation: Job opportunities are limited for international grad students, so having a clear overview of your future financial situation before leaving to the US is of the utmost necessity. Don’t hesitate to ask your departmental advisor for more information!

International Grad Student Committee (IGSC) contact details:

The IGSC’s primary role is to represent the international grad community, and to address the specific concerns international grad students are confronted with during their time at UCSC. Working closely together with International Scholar & Student Services (ISSS), we also want to support and help make the international grad community flourish. The IGSC hopes to become a liaison between the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and ISSS, and provide information about the experiences of international graduate students at UCSC.

You can contact the IGSC at with all your questions.


UCSC Graduates Demand Equal Pay for Equal Work! 


Our monthly wage is $2434 before tax. This monthly wage is only for the 9 months of the year for which we are employed, totaling $21,906 before tax. Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable counties for renters in the country.


We demand a Cost of Living Adjustment for every* graduate student to bring us out of rent burden. 

At current rates, this amounts to an additonal $1,412 per month.** The COLA must be adjusted annually to keep up with the rental market. 


Adjusting salaries for the cost of living is common in private and public sector jobs in California.s. 


COLA is also a demand to recognize the precarity of our seasonal unemployment as graduate student workers, who make a monthly wage of $2434 but an annual wage of $21,906, because the UC Boss only employs us for 9 months out of the year. 


*Regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status

 **Sharing a two- or three-bedroom apartment, based on median rental figures from April 2018 - August 2019 (source: Zillow Rental Index)