Tips for Newcomers to Penn and Philadelphia

1. Penn payroll system:

Penn offers two options for getting paid:

  • Direct deposit
  • ADP Aline Card

Most lab members use direct deposit to their US bank account. You can configure direct deposit here.

However, Penn can take over a month to activate direct deposit after you provide your bank account information. If your direct deposit isn’t active by time payments are scheduled, you will be paid via an ADP Aline Card. Check U@Penn My Pay to see whether you were paid to your bank account or ADP.

The ADP Aline Card is a sort of enhanced debit card. For your first ADP payment, the physical card is mailed to your postal address on record. You can call ADP Account Services at 877-237-4321 to inquire whether your card is in transit.

If you receive an Aline Card, you can activate it and create an account online. From the website, you can then transfer the full debit card balance to a bank account. You can also withdraw cash from an automated teller.

Special considerations for Postdocs

Postdocs at Penn have unique tax considerations. Specifically, some postdocs may not have Federal taxes withheld from their paycheck even though they are responsible for these taxes. See the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council Tax Issues Page for more information.

2. Find a place to live:

  • Penn off-Campus Housing Search:
  • PadMapper: A smartphone app and website that combines listings from all of the major real estate databases and shows them on a map. Allows you to zoom in on specific neighborhoods, and refine results by date available, #bedrooms, price, etc.
  • Facebook Group: Often more useful than craigslist for newcomers who are looking for roommates as well a place to live. (Not subsidized housing; mostly graduate students and young professionals looking to fill extra rooms or sublet entire apartments).

4. Public transportation:

  • Septa Bus Routes 30, 40, and 42 all have stops near Smilow.
  • LUCY Buses also stop near Smilow and are free to those with a Penn ID (details).
  • The Market-Frankford Line, 34th & Market St. station is ~0.6 mi walk to/from Smilow.
  • Paying for Septa: $2.25/ride cash, 1 token/ride (1 token = $1.80, sold in packs of 2 or more), monthly and weekly TransPasses and TrailPasses are available for purchase or for loading onto a Septa Key. The Penn Bookstore sells tokens and passes. Token vending machines can be found on campus in the basement of Houston Hall (on Spruce St, across from HUP) and the food court on 34th Walnut St (next to Starbucks).
  • Penn Commuter Programs: Buying tokens, TransPasses and TrailPasses with discount.