Stephen F. Austin State University

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Should I apply to SFA ( or to ELI?

That depends:

Do you want to enter a degree program (undergraduate or graduate) at SFA?

- NO - Apply to ELI

- YES - Review questions a and b below:

a. Do you meet ALL of the academic requirements for the degree program (including English proficiency test scores)?

- YES - Apply to SFA*

- NO - If you do not meet the academic requirements, you may not be eligible for admission to SFA.

b. Do you meet all of the academic requirements for the degree program EXCEPT English proficiency test scores?

- YES - Apply to SFA and gain Conditional Admission:

1. If you already have an English test score, you can be placed into a level of study in ELI without further testing.

2. If you do not have an English test score, you will take our English proficiency test before the semester begins ($50 fee). If your score on this test does not meet the cutoff, you will be enrolled in the ELI program. After you complete the ELI program, you will be able to begin your degree program.

*If you HAVE test scores which meet the requirements for showing English proficiency but you want to enroll in ELI to improve your English skills, apply to SFA. Let the admissions officer know that you would like to voluntarily enroll in the ELI program before beginning your degree program.

How do I apply to the English Language Institute (ELI)?

You may apply by completing the application, which is available through our web site. If you need a paper copy of the application sent to you, please write to us or e-mail us with your request.

A complete application packet will include: (1) application form with certification of financial support, (2) your English exam results - TOEFL or IELTS, (3) copy of high school diploma or highest level of education, (4) $50 application fee. These materials should be sent to:

International Admissions
PO Box 6152
Stephen F Austin State University
Nacogdoches, TX 75962

May I fax the application?
You may fax the application, but we cannot complete your admission until we have received certified copies of the high school diploma and the certification of financial support as well as the $50 application fee. Our fax number is (936) 468-7215.
Is there a deadline for application?
We encourage students to apply as early as possible because of restrictions on class sizes. Also, early application and admission is advisable so that the application for a student visa can be submitted to the US consulate abroad. Students may begin classes during the Fall semester (end of August) or Spring semester (middle of January).
Are TOEFL or IELTS scores required for admission to ELI?

Yes. Students must provide a TOEFL or IELTS scores to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements for enrollment in the program.

If a student does not agree with their placement based on the TOEFL or IELTS test results, they may take a placement test administered at the beginning of the term to determine which level they will be placed at the ELI. There is a $50 fee for this test.

Students should already possess an intermediate level of English proficiency. To succeed in the ELI program, students should enter with skills equivalent to a score no lower than a 58 on the TOEFL or a 5.5 on the IELTS. Students should have a solid grasp of English grammar, be able to comprehend and respond to conversational English, read and comprehend lower-level academic texts, and write complex sentences. For most students, a minimum of three years' previous study of English is necessary for success in the program.

I have my TOEFL/IELTS scores. Which ELI level will I be placed in?

If you submit your TOEFL or IELTS scores that are not more than 2 years old, you will be placed as follows:



Resulting Placement

51 - 57


ELI Level 3 with caution*

58 - 68


ELI Level 3

69 - 78


ELI Level 4

79 - 120

6.5 and above

University classes

* students admitted 'with caution' may be required to repeat at least one level of the program.

How do I obtain a student visa to study in the United States?
After we receive your completed application packet, we will admit you to the ELI. We will send you an official letter of admission and an I-20 form. You need to take the I-20 form to the nearest US consulate and apply for a visa there. It is difficult to predict how long it will take to get a visa. We urge students to complete the application process early.
How long are the semesters?
ELI follows the university calendar. The Fall and Spring semesters are each 14 weeks long.
Will successful completion of the ELI program allow me to go straight to my degree program at the university?
Yes! Successful completion of the ELI program of study will enable a student to enter directly into an undergraduate or graduate degree program at Stephen F Austin State University if other entrance requirements are met. No other tests will be required to prove the student's English proficiency.
How long must I study at ELI before I can be admitted to a degree program at the university?
The length of study required for admission to a degree program at the university depends on several factors, including the student's language abilities at the beginning of the program. Some students who enter the program with intermediate knowledge of English can enter the university after a single semester; other students may require multiple semesters in ELI.
May I take regular university classes while enrolled in ELI?
Must I live on campus?

Although it is not required, we recommend that all ELI students live on campus at SFA. Rent in campus housing is low and it is extremely convenient to all campus activities. Also, living among US students will provide many opportunities for further practice and development of your English language skills.

ELI students must be aware that once they enroll in regular university classes, they will be required to live on campus unless they meet certain very specific conditions, and they will not be able to register for classes unless they meet the residence requirement.

What is the schedule of daily classes?
Regular ELI classes meet four days a week (Monday through Thursday) from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There are also Conversation Partners sessions meeting twice a week in the afternoon, American Language and Culture lab meeting on selected Friday mornings, four Friday activities, and a big field trip each semester. Additionally, students are required to attend weekly Wednesday meetings with the ELI staff.
Will I take a placement test?

No. Placement will be based on your TOEFL/IELTS exam.

You are only required to take the ELI placement test if you are already in the U.S. and are able to take the test at least two weeks before the term begins.

What is the average class size?
The average class size in ELI is 10 students. Our classes are small so that instructors can work with students individually and in small groups.
When do I pay my fees?

After you receive a letter of admission, if you choose to live on campus, you will be required to pay a $100 deposit to secure your housing. This will also guarantee your place in ELI. The balance of your fees should be paid as soon as you arrive on campus.

If you do not pay your tuition and fees by the 10th day of the classes, you will be 'suspended' from your ELI courses. You will have 5 days to pay your tuition and fees PLUS a $150 late fee to remain enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University. Failure to pay your tuition in a timely manner and being dropped from ELI will put you 'out of status' with US immigration, and you will need to leave the country.