-Will I need to open a bank account?
International students are advised to open a bank account upon arrival. You can be guided through this process by the International Office staff shortly after arrival.
-What about my phone?
If you already have a mobile phone and need a line, Walmart has a variety of network subscribers you could choose from. Contracts with mobile phone providers are typically one or two years in duration and are to be paid in monthly installments. For more information about these contracts, visit one of the telephone stores in Shippensburg and ask about their offers. Be careful not to sign a contract right away. It is a good practice to browse all the phone providers to find a phone service that best meets your needs. Contracts require a Social Security Number and a credit check of your financial credit record. If you wish to visit a mobile phone store, the five largest telephone providers in Shippensburg are: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.
Although some phone networks come with international calling benefits, it is usually costly and it consumes your megabits (MB). To help you save money and have more time talking with your family and friends back home, the following two networks might be helpful:
WhatsApp: WhatsApp is a free downloadable app that allows you to text message, share images and make phone calls for free worldwide. Data charges may apply.
Lycamobile: Lycamobile is an international phone service with competitive phone plans. It comes with an unlimited international plan for both SMS and calling, offers free international calls to 70 countries, and a calling rate of one cent per minute to other countries worldwide. You can either buy their SIM or put their network to any phone subscriber of your choice.
Where will I live?
Technology has made it much easier for international students, who can live thousands of miles away from campus, to learn about the housing options available at different schools. Shippensburg University offers virtual tours on its website, which allows you to get a general view of the residence halls and other on-campus housing options.
One of the best things about living on campus is that residence halls and academic buildings are all within walking distance. Residence halls make it easy to get to class, and you won't need to buy a vehicle for transportation. It would be difficult and expensive for an incoming freshman to buy a car upon arrival on campus. Being in close proximity to campus and not having to drive also allows you to skip having to get a driver's license.
Living off campus can be quite a journey. The search can be quite intensive. However, in as much as the search is stressful, in a way it is a great opportunity, as it has the potential to enrich your American college experience. International students considering the option of off campus should keep the following things in mind during their search:
1. Start early: If you want to live off campus, you should probably start looking for apartments now. The demand for apartments can increase exponentially as it gets later in the school year or as the semester progresses.
Now, some agencies or landlords may tell you it is too early to determine the availability of apartments for the next school year, but it is still crucial to leave your information with them. That may allow them to notify you early once they know there are vacancies coming up.
2. Team up: Some students may find it helpful to team up with friends. It is hard to gather all the information and research by yourself, so ask around to see if you have any friends who are still searching for a roommate. Even if you elect to live alone, for safety reasons you should have someone accompany you whenever you go see apartments.
3. Be picky: As an international student, you may not be as familiar with the local area as your American peers. Instead of researching solely on your computer, you should walk around and see the neighborhood for yourself. Talk with other students who are currently living off campus to find out the good and the bad of their neighborhoods and their experiences. Don’t make compromises on things you value, such as safety, location and convenience. Be extra choosy now so that you don’t have to suffer the inconvenience of moving again in a year. One particularly important thing to look into is transportation. Buses are rare during holidays and semester breaks so it may be the best to stick to housing close to campus.
4. Keep calm: Landlord issues can occur when you live in off campus housing. If you are unsure of the terms of your contract, just make sure to consult with International Programs Office staff before signing a lease or paying deposits.
What Food Is Offered?
Food is an important part of any culture. Many international students have the impression from Hollywood movies that burgers and fries are the main meal in this country. However, there are definitely different types of food available at our SHIP campus dining halls.
How Will I Get Around?
The Raider Regional Transit provides service Monday through Saturday during the University’s regular academic year and on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the spring, summer, fall, and holiday breaks. Service is provided around campus and the Shippensburg community as well as local shopping areas and the Chambersburg Shopping Center.
Fares: Free to Shippensburg University students and employees with student ID.
Local Buses: Raider Regional Transit has two routes, the RED & BLUE. Each bus is marked with signs on & over the windshield denoting the route. To find your bus, look at the Red Line and Blue Line schedules.
Buses to Harrisburg:
Capital Area Transit operates a bus service that leaves the Shippensburg Wal-Mart for the Harrisburg Transportation Center (Amtrak Train Station) Monday thru Friday, except on State and Federal holidays. The one-way adult fare is approximately $2.95 (Exact change is required). Access the schedule by clicking HERE.
Sunday Evening Bus Service:
There is Sunday evening bus service from Harrisburg to Shippensburg, leaving the Transportation Center (Amtrak Train Station) at 9:30 p.m. and dropping students off on-campus. This is a service provided by the Student Senate through Wolf Bus Lines. To sign-up for the Sunday evening bus service, please contact the Student Senate in the CUB 201 or call 1-717-477-1651 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Reservations should be made no later than 3:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the scheduled bus. The cost is $5.00 and is payable in advance at the Student Senate Office.
How Do I Get a Driver’s License/State ID?
As part of a nationwide effort to enhance the issuance of secure identification credentials, Pennsylvania requires the following documentation from Non-U.S Citizens applying for a PA Driver’s License, Learner’s Permits, State (ID) card, or transferring an out-of-state driver’s license. Required documents:
- Written Verification of attendance at the school listed on the I-Passport
- Social Security Card, or letter from SSA indicating that they did not make a decision yet, or SSA rejection letter
- 2 proofs of residency
International students must request a letter from the Center for Global Education confirming their enrollment and valid F-1 visa status before applying. Letter requests will be honored once students have properly checked in with the Center for Global Education.
Do I Need to Obtain a Social Security Number?
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit identification number issued by the U.S Social Security Administration (SSA). It is a requirement for all persons who work and receive pay in the U.S., and is used to report wages to the government.
International students must request a letter from the Center for Global Education confirming their enrollment and valid F-1 visa status prior to applying for their Social Security Number or Social Security Administration Rejection letter. Letter requests will be honored once students have properly checked in with the Center for Global Education.
Social Security numbers are not required for the following situations:
*Registration for Classes: It is not necessary to have a Social Security number in order to register for classes. Students use an eight-digit number called the Ship I.D. number to register for classes.
*Banking: You do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. As an F-1 visa holder, the bank may ask you to fill out Internal Revenue Service Form W-8BEN to prove that you are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
*Driver’s License: Although the State of Pennsylvania requires that you have a Social Security number in order to obtain a driver's license, however, in the absence of a SSN the Pennsylvanian Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) may require a letter from Social Security Administration indicating their decision on your Social Security Number status is a rejection due to inability to work in the U.S. The rejection letter can be used to apply for the driver’s license or a Pennsylvania state identity card.
*Sharing: You are not expected to share or let anybody know your Social Security Number. It should be kept in a secure and safe place.
Can I Work On Campus?
On-campus employment for F-1 students includes work done as a research assistant or student worker as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices. On-campus also includes employment with on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as banks, stores, or restaurants located in a University owned building. F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.
- Earn extra money
- Work experience for your resume
- Meet new people and make friends
- Develop communication skills and various other skills
- Learn to manage your time and juggle many projects at once
- Recommendation letters and personal references for future employment or education
- You must be enrolled in a full course of study during the academic year
- You may not work more than 20-hours per week on-campus during the academic year
- You may work full-time on-campus during vacation periods
- You may not engage in 'on-campus employment' after completing requirements for your degree.
- You are not eligible for off-campus jobs, unless if otherwise authorized. For example, The Economic Difficulty Work Permit provides jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for education expenses. This process is done through the Center for Global Education Office.
Graduate Assistantship Positions
It is quite possible for an international student to be hired as a Graduate Assistant (GA) or student worker. GAs generally receive a tuition waiver and hourly pay, while student workers do not receive hourly pay only. You may get a GA job or SW position either from your department or another department on campus.
Where to Look for On-Campus Jobs:
SHIP Career Connection is a free, online job, internship, and volunteer opportunity database that offers recruiting services for students, alumni, employers, faculty and staff. There are always hundreds of jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities posted on and off campus by the CMPDC's connections. Students are able to view and apply for open positions, build their networks, and explore career paths and opportunities. Students can log in using the single sign-on Ship email and password or can contact the Career Center at 717-477-1484.
Documentation Needed After Getting a Job :
- I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification)
- State and federal withholding allowance certificate (W-4) forms
- Direct Deposit Authorization Form if you would like to have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account
I Have An On-Campus Job. Do I Need to Pay Taxes?
The United States has several different sets of tax laws. Federal tax law applies to taxes paid to the United States in Washington, D.C. State tax laws apply to taxes paid to the state in which you live. In some places, there are also local or city taxes. It is important to comply with all federal, state, and local tax laws that apply to you.
The federal tax system is a graduated tax system, which means that the percentage of tax one pays is dependent on the amount of income one earns. If you earn a small income, you pay a smaller percentage in tax, but if you earn a larger salary, you pay a higher percentage.
Residency and Non-Residency for Tax Purposes:
U.S. tax law divides people into residents or non-residents for tax purposes, which is not necessarily the same as residency according to immigration law. Residents for tax purposes follow the same rules as U.S. citizens, but there are special rules for non-residents for tax purposes. There are also special rules that apply specifically to F-1 students who are non-residents for tax purposes.
Filing for U.S. Taxes:
When you get an on-campus job, you will be required to pay and report taxes on your earnings. You may qualify for some exemptions if you are a citizen of a country which has a tax treaty with the United States. Ask your employer when you are filling out your hiring paperwork, and usually the Human Resources Department or Payroll Office will send you the W-2 Form needed for you to file for taxes. There are special rules used to determine tax residency for F-1 students. In general, international students in F-1 status and their dependents file tax forms as non-residents. Students can use SPRINTAX services to complete their tax filing.
For more information on U.S. taxes, refer to the Center for Global Education.