There are several banks in Columbia that are very familiar with international students. We recommend that you set up an account at Bank of America or Wells Fargo. Both of these banks have main branches located within a couple blocks of USC's campus. Additionally, these are banks are very common in the United States. If you travel to other places in the U.S., you will be able to find a Bank of America or Wells Fargo very quickly if you need to make any transactions while traveling.
Another option for USC students is Carolina Collegiate. Carolina Collegiate is a local credit union that is specifically for students, staff, and faculty of USC. They are not a major banking institution like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, but many students love the personal connection Carolina Collegiate has with the University of South Carolina. Carolina Collegiate has an office on the 2nd floor of USC's Russell House Student Union. If you do not plan to travel often outside of Columbia, this may be a good option for you. However, if you are planning to travel frequently, Bank of America or Wells Fargo may be a better choice.
Taxes in the United States
Taxes in the U.S. may be different than taxes in your home country. Many U.S. states have something called "sales tax." Sales tax is applied to your purchases in stores, restaurants, and online. For example, a candy bar costs $1.00. When you go to actually purchase the candy bar, you will pay $1.08. The extra eight cents is sales tax. Sales tax in Columbia, SC is 8%. This means that you can expect an additional 8% tax on the majority of the purchases you make while you are a student at USC.
All students should expect to file taxes at some point during their studies at USC. Make sure you understand what this entails. The filing deadline occurs in mid-April every year.
If you work on-campus while you are here at USC, you will need to expect to pay "income tax." If you are working in the United States, a portion of your income will be taxed by the government. This amount may vary depending on your country of origin and how much you are being paid at your on-campus job. For example, if you are told you will be making $10.00 per hour, but your actual paycheck reflects a smaller amount, this is due to income tax.