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Is The ELI The Right Program For Me?

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What kind of students take ELI classes?

Each session, over 100 students from more than 20 different countries take classes at the UMBC ELI. Many students are recent high school or university graduates who hope to attend UMBC or another university in the U.S. Other ELI students are professionals taking short-term, intensive English classes to enhance their careers. We also enroll members of the local community who need to improve their English skills for employment or daily life in the U.S.

Is the ELI for international students only? Can Americans attend the ELI?

ELI courses are for any student whose first language is not English. Most ELI students are international students with F-1 visas. However, we welcome many types of students, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

If you received most of your education in English, ELI classes may not be suitable for you. Please contact us to discuss your situation. We can advise you about whether the ELI or a different program is best for your needs.

Does the ELI offer remedial English?

No, English as a Second Language (ESL) is not the same as remedial or developmental English.  ESL classes meet the specific needs of students whose first language is not English.  Developmental English classes are for students who are fluent in English but not yet prepared for college-level reading and writing. 

If your primary language is English and you need help with literacy or basic skills, you may be eligible for a free or low-cost Adult Basic Education (ABE) program in your community

Do I need a visa to study at the ELI?

Most ELI students have F-1 visas.  We can also enroll students with any type of visa that permits study, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens. 

We cannot enroll students with B-1/B-2 (visitor) status in our regular, in-person classes.  B visa holders can take online courses.  If you currently have B-1/B-2 status but wish to change status to F-1 (student), please contact the ELI for more information. 

For students who are unable to travel to the U.S., the ELI’s private online courses are available anywhere in the world.

I am a working professional. Is the ELI for college students only?

No, the ELI enrolls many students who wish to learn English for business reasons and professional development.  Our Intensive English Program is ideal for students seeking a short-term English course in the U.S.  We also offer private lessons for busy professionals who need flexible, one-on-one instruction, and we can customize in-person or online classes for small groups of employees. 

Does the ELI have an age limit?

ELI students range in age from 17 to 60.  During the spring and fall semesters, students should be age 17 or older.  During the summer semester, the ELI can accept younger students (students who are still in high school). 

Throughout the year, the ELI can arrange special programs for groups of younger students (middle school or high school age).  Please contact us if you would like to bring a group to the ELI.

I filed a FAFSA. Can I get financial aid for ELI classes?

ELI classes are non-credit.  American students cannot use federal financial aid (Pell Grants, government loans, etc.) or military veterans’ benefits for ELI classes, unless the classes are part of a degree program at UMBC.

Can I use financial aid for the TESOL Training Course?

The TESOL Training Course is non-credit, so it is not possible to use federal financial aid or veterans’ benefits to pay for the course tuition.  You may use AmeriCorps education awards for the course tuition and related expenses. 

Does the ELI have scholarships or work-study programs for international students?

No, the ELI cannot offer scholarships or grants.  It is not possible to pay ELI tuition by working at UMBC.

Does the ELI offer free classes?

The ELI does not offer free classes.  If you live in the Baltimore area, there are free and low-cost classes available through the Esperanza Center, Baltimore City Community College, and the Community College of Baltimore County


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