New Student Checklist & FAQ
Basic Page Sidebar Menu Penn GSC
Welcome to Penn! The lists below cover the key things you need to do before you arrive on campus and once you've arrived. Still have questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below.
Accept your offer of admission
Follow the directions in your decision letter or notification for how to officially accept your offer of admission.
Set up your Penn Key
Your PennKey gives you access to a Penn email account and many other essential online services, including many on this checklist. You will receive a Penn Key set-up code via email at a time determined by your school or program. Register your PennKey as soon as you receive the code.
Set up your Penn Accounts
Once you have your PennKey, you can sign up for other Penn accounts and services. See available services and additional information on our Accounts & IT page.
Find a place to live
Housing around Penn (and in Philadelphia, in general) is at a premium, so get started early. We recommend starting your housing search at least 90 days before your move-in date. Check out on-campus housing at Sansom Place (application period begins April 1) or Penn’s Off-Campus Services to help you find off-campus housing. Look for upcoming Off-Campus Housing Online Information Sessions on our New Student Events calendar to learn more about your options and searching for housing in Philadelphia.
Apply for Financial Aid
Contact your school's Financial Aid office or University Student Financial Services for assistance with your financial aid; there are different deadlines depending on the school to which you have been accepted. Most deadlines fall between March 1 and May 1.
Set up Penn.Pay for student bills and refunds
Your first bill will arrive after your have registered for classes (according to this schedule), so be sure to set up Penn.Pay by the end of June. Go to Path@Penn and select "Penn.Pay" in the Financial Services box.
Log into Campus Express
Campus Express provides a convenient portal for accessing a number of Penn services, including your PennCard (school ID), dining, transportation and parking, ordering books and technology, registering property, and more. You can also learn about discounts for Penn students!
Apply for your PennCard
A PennCard is the official identification card for Penn and gives you access to University buildings and services. PennCards also come with a pre-paid debit card feature called PennCash, which reduces the need to carry cash, debit cards, and credit cards on campus.
New students apply for their PennCard at Campus Express Online. Consult with your program to see whether your card will be provided at school orientation or if you need to make an appointment to pick up your card upon arrival to campus.
Spouses/domestic partners and children of current students can also obtain a PennCard to access many campus services, visit the PennCard website to learn how to obtain a card.
Be sure you complete all the necessary tasks before you arrive; see the International Student & Scholars Services (ISSS) Pre-Arrival Checklist and learn more about how to Prepare for Penn as a new international student. You can also participate in an Online Information Session for Incoming International Graduate Students before you arrive!
Complete immunization requirements
Complete the necessary immunization requirements by June 1 if you are attending summer session classes, or by July 1 if you are attending fall semester classes.
Enroll in Student Health Insurance or submit insurance waiver
You must sign up for Student Health Insurance or submit proof of qualifying comprehensive insurance coverage by the deadline of August 31. If you miss this deadline, you will automatically be enrolled (and billed for) student health insurance.
Review Health Insurance and Immunization Compliance information to be sure you meet all requirements. Visit the Student Health Service website or view a recording of our Student Health Insurance Webinar to learn more.
Pick up your Penn ID Card
A PennCard is the official identification card for members of the Penn Community and gives you access to University buildings and services. New students apply for their PennCard at Campus Express Online. Incoming graduate students should consult with their programs to see whether their cards will be provided at their school orientations or if they need to make an appointment to pick up their cards upon arrival to campus.
Check-in with your department or program
When you arrive on campus make sure you stop by your academic program office and introduce yourself. Ask about program- and school-specific orientation activities.
Thrive at Penn (TAP) on Canvas
Thrive at Penn (TAP) will help you begin the orientation process, with videos and materials that introduce you to graduate life at Penn, provide important information and resources, and help you stay well and balanced during your graduate education. Each graduate division at Penn has a unique TAP course, which you can locate among your courses in Canvas. An up-to-date public version of the course is available at www.nso.upenn.edu/tap
Sign up for Direct Deposit
Direct Deposit is the safest and easiest way to get any funds you may receive.
- Penn.Pay e-Refunds: for student account refunds, tuition and financial aid payments
- Workday@Penn: for stipend payments, payroll for campus employment, or other payments.
Please note: you may need to submit paperwork through Onboard@Penn before you can receive any payments. Please speak with your department or supervisor if you are unsure of your paperwork and/or employment status.
You will need a U.S. bank account to enroll in direct deposit; see a list of banks close to campus.
Register for courses
In most academic programs, students should consult with an advisor before registering for courses. Once you set up your PennKey and talk to your advisor, visit Path@Penn to register for classes.
Update your personal information
Update your address information, emergency contacts, and profile on Path@Penn. Carefully review your billing, local, and permanent addresses so that communication from your school will be sent to the correct address. Periodically review your profile to make sure everything is correct.
Attend New Graduate & Professional Student Orientation
Your school will provide an academic orientation and the Graduate Student Center offers resources and activities to help you connect with the broader graduate community and University. Be sure to attend both!
What do I do if I need a new PennKey Setup Code?
You can obtain a PennKey Setup Code (either because the one they sent expired or you never received one) in person or by postal mail. For security reasons, Setup Codes will not be sent by email or given out over the phone.
- By mail: Use the PennKey Setup Code Service and enter your identifying information. A letter containing your Setup Code will be sent via U.S. Mail to your address of record.
- In-person: Go to the Registrar’s Office in Room 221 of the Franklin Building (3451 Walnut Street). To confirm your identity, bring two forms of photo ID, one of which should be your PennCard. Other acceptable forms of photo ID are government-issued documents such as passport, state driver's license, state-issued ID card, or national identity card.
How do I get a Penn email account?
First, you must have successfully established and registered your PennKey. Then, go to Campus Express. Log in with your PennKey and select "Create an email account." You will then select your school and be directed to the appropriate information.
What should I do with all of my Health Insurance papers?
Consult the Student Health Service Insurance Office. The online insurance enrollment/waiver system gives information about due dates, filing processes, and contact information. If you want to waive Student Health Insurance, be aware that if you do not submit a waiver by the deadline, you will be automatically enrolled and billed.
How do I know that my financial aid is all set up?
Check with Student Financial Services and your school Financial Aid Office, if applicable, to make sure that you have completed any and all necessary paperwork and that it has been recorded correctly. Don’t assume that everything is finished until all of your loan and grant information shows up correctly in Path@Penn. You can see your financial information by clicking the "My Financial Aid" and "Penn.Pay" links in the Financial Services box.
How do I register for courses?
Path@Penn contains the course registration area for students. However, each school and department has a different registration process for its students. When in doubt about something you should contact your advisor or department administration.
What do I do if all of my information is being sent to the wrong address?
Go to Path@Penn and click the "update my personal information" link in the "My Profile" box. From there you can change your permanent address.
What's the difference between my school's orientation events and the Graduate Student Center's orientation events?
Your school's orientation will help you learn more about your specific academic program, its requirements, etc. The Grad Center's orientation events are more general and are designed to help you learn about campus and the city. In order to get the most out of your graduate school experience, you really should attend both orientations.
I am an international student. How can I make sure that I have done everything necessary before starting school?
International Student & Scholar Services offers comprehensive resources for new international students. In addition, you can find information pertaining to international graduate and professional student orientation.
What student organizations exist on campus?
I'd like to get involved. There are many cultural, political, service, recreational, religious, and social organizations at Penn, as well as GAPSA, the main graduate student government organization, and student governments in each individual school. Learn more about graduate student organizations at Penn.
What if my question is not answered here or on the New Student Orientation website?
Contact us with any questions or to request assistance.