Pre-Arrival Guide

Pre-Arrival Guide

Accepting your offer, paying your deposit, and paying your tuition

Log in to MyPennState, the same place that you applied for admission to Penn State. Click on the link “Accept my offer.” At that point, you can pay your deposit and make arrangements to pay your tuition bill. Your tuition will not be due until a few weeks after you arrive.

Sending your diploma and transcript

As an international student, you provide us with a unique perspective. To help us efficiently evaluate your application for admission, we need some additional information:

Help Us Help You

Please make sure the name on your application matches the name on your passport. If it is different than how it appears on your transcript, please notify us.

Please provide an email address that we can use as the primary way to communicate with you. Be sure that we have a current email address at all times, and that Penn State ( is indicated as an eligible sender to the account.

Please see this additional information about Academic Records, English Language Proficiency, Standardized Tests, and Special Program Requirements

If your high school does not send proof of graduation to Penn State prior to your arrival, please talk to Sheri Yoder during orientation.

Requesting your I-20

Specific instructions for securing your I-20

It is imperative that you begin this process as soon as you have accepted your offer of admission. This process can take up to four to five weeks, so please be patient as we work through all of the files. Also, be sure to check your junk mail folder, as messages from Penn State sometimes are directed there.

Checking your I-20

When you receive your I-20, look at it carefully to be sure all information is correct. Please note that for one of the following reasons, the major listed might not be what you intend to study:

  1. Incoming undergraduate students are not actually accepted into a specific major. They are first accepted into a college. When the student approaches their junior year, they will work with their academic adviser to be placed into a specific major.
  2. Majors on a SEVIS I-20 must be selected from programs of study as listed in the federal government’s Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), each of which has a numeric code. These are incorporated into a “drop-down” menu of majors, which are our only options from which to select.
  3. Penn State programs of study are carefully evaluated for content, duration, and so on, and coded to match as closely as possible to the majors in the CIP. So, majors shown on I-20s sometimes reflect a difference in name between what the University calls a program and what the CIP codebook calls it.

Documentation required for travel to the United States

The following documents should be obtained prior to traveling to the United States. Additional documents may be requested but these are essential.

  • Passport and passports of any accompanying family members
  • I-94 card (now electronic)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Documents from your sponsor if you are a government/corporate sponsored student
  • Medical history (optional)and immunization records (required)

If your airline misplaces your luggage, please tell them to send it to:

Sheri Yoder
Student Affairs
Penn State York
1031 Edgecomb Avenue
York, PA 17403
Phone: 717-471-6834

Carry Sheri Yoder’s contact information with you so you will have it while you travel.

Contacting current international students

Prospective international students often feel comfortable communicating with current international students. Below is a list of students who are happy to exchange emails. Please contact them if you have any questions.

Current International Students to Contact
First name Last name Country Email
Jinzi Sheng China
Srijit Parthav India
Githii Maureen Kenya
Fang Hangwen China
Parikh Urmil India

Traveling to campus from the airport

We will provide transportation on Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and Friday, August 12, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

We will drive you from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to York, Pennsylvania, on these dates only. If you will arrive on one of these two days and you would like transportation to York, please send an email to Sheri Yoder at

Note: If you arrive before August 11 or at an airport other than BWI, you must make your own arrangements to travel from the airport to York, Pennsylvania. Below is a list of transportation services in our area:

Some students will make arrangements for permanent accommodations before they arrive. Please consult the Off-Campus Housing page for more information about local apartment complexes. However, we will only transport students from the airport to York Hills, York Apartments, The Lofts, or Greenspring apartments in York, Pennsylvania. If you plan to ride with us, please make sure that the property manager will be available to let you into your apartment when you arrive.

If you do not lease an apartment before you arrive, please make temporary arrangements to stay in a hotel. Find hotels in York

However, we will only transport students from BWI airport to the hotel in York listed below:

Hampton Inn & Suites York South
2159 South Queen Street
York, Pennsylvania 17402
USA TEL:+1-717-741-0900

If you want to stay at the Hampton Inn, you need to make the arrangements yourself.

If you make reservations at another hotel in York, you may ride from BWI to York and call a taxi to take you from one of our stops (the apartment buildings listed above) to your hotel.

Finding housing and moving in

It is important to lease an apartment and move in as soon as possible. Please note that you will have full days of orientation August 15–19. You will only have time to move or take care of business in the evening.

Please note: There is a penalty for missing any part of orientation.

Consult the Off-Campus Housing page for more information about finding housing.

If you need assistance finding a roommate, send an email to Cynthia Jones, in Student Affairs ( Ask her to add you to the list and give her permission to send out your information to other students who are requesting a roommate. Provide the following information:

  • Full name (first name, last name)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (if you have one already)
  • The name of the apartment complex you would like to live in (if you know it)
  • Do you prefer to stay up late or get up early?
  • Do you need quiet time to study or would you like an environment with noise?
  • Do you generally keep your room clean or messy?
  • Do you smoke or are you a non-smoker?

Attending International Student Orientation

  • Mandatory orientation for all international students takes place August 15–19.
  • Activities will include obtaining a Penn State ID, registering documents, touring campus, meeting with an academic adviser, selecting courses, and establishing a bank account. Discussions will include many topics such as transition to life in the United States and studying in an American university.
  • You will receive a detailed schedule when you arrive.
  • We will provide transportation to orientation each morning and to apartments or hotel in the afternoon. We will pick-up and drop-off at these locations: York Hills Apartments, York Apartments, The Lofts, Greenspring Apartments, and The Hampton Inn on South Queen Street.
  • There is a penalty for students who miss all or part of orientation.
  • You will receive information from The Advising Office and from the office of Student Affairs about individual parts of orientation. This can be confusing but do not worry. If you attend all sessions Monday through Friday, you will be ready for your first semester at Penn State York.
  • Please note that PNC Bank, AT&T phone company will be on campus to assist you in opening a bank account and buying phones and/or phone service. Both of these businesses work with our students who do not have a Social Security number.

Purchasing health insurance

There will be time during orientation to ask questions about insurance, purchase insurance and complete the waiver. Below is helpful information for you to discuss with your parents prior to leaving for the United States.

Mandatory Health Insurance Requirements

Health insurance is mandatory at Penn State for international students and their accompanying dependents (spouse and/or children). Penn State requires health insurance for several reasons:

  • Health care can be very costly in the United States.
  • The United States does not have a national health care plan.
  • Health services may be restricted if you do not have health insurance.

Health Insurance Explained

A large group of people (both sick and healthy) pays an established amount of money for some protection against future health costs. Their money is put together in one fund, called an “insurance pool.” When members of the fund become sick or are injured and incur medical costs, money is taken from this insurance pool to pay for part or all of their costs. People in the United States are financially responsible for their own medical or health care needs.

Fulfilling the Health Insurance Requirement

The requirement may be fulfilled in one of two ways.

  • You may purchase a comparable health insurance plan, complete a waiver form, and provide the University with documentation.
  • You may purchase the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan. For more information, please visit the following websites: Penn State Student Health Insurance or Aetna Student Health. You can contact the office at if you have any questions.

Late Fee

There is a $50 late fee for students who fail to fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement by the established semester deadline. There is a $100 late fee for students who do not fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement the second time.

Submitting immunization records

Penn State requires all degree-seeking students, domestic and international, to be immunized against measles, mumps, and rubella. Penn State recommends being immunized against varicella (chicken pox), pertussis (whooping cough) and influenza (flu). Follow these steps to document your compliance:

  1. Obtain an official copy of your immunization record from your health care provider or school.
  2. Submit your records online at myUHS.
  3. Fax the official record to 814-865-9309 (Immunizations/Medical Records).
  4. Complete the health survey. Complete the Online Health History Form through myUHS.

There have been increasing numbers of cases of mumps, measles, chicken pox and whooping cough on college campuses in recent years. If there is an outbreak at Penn State and you are not fully compliant with the immunization requirements, you may need to receive additional vaccines, leave campus, or be restricted from class attendance for a period of time. In addition, after your arrival on campus, you will receive a questionnaire regarding tuberculosis (TB).

Establishing a bank account

A PNC bank representative will be on campus during New International Student Orientation (NISO) so that you can open an account. You will only need to have your passport and your Penn State student ID card.

You will need to have a bank account to conduct financial transactions while attending Penn State York. To make this easier, some banking terminology is explained below:

Checking Account

It is relatively easy to open a checking account, where you can keep money to be spent by writing checks or using a debit card.

Savings Account

This account also allows you to keep money, but you will have to maintain a minimum balance, and the funds are accessible only at the bank. Savings accounts earn a small amount of interest.

Debit Card

This card works in conjunction with your checking account. You can use this card at ATMs to withdraw money, or at many stores to make purchases. The money is directly deducted from your checking account.


You can receive a checkbook when you open a checking account for a small fee. You may make a purchase by writing a check. Make sure to learn how to write a check to avoid fraud.

Foreign Currency

Many banks exchange foreign currency, if you have an account with them. They often charge a fee. If you are exchanging U.S. dollars for other currency, it may take a few business days to receive the money.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

  • Report lost or stolen ID cards, license, credit cards, and personal information immediately.
  • Never share your personal identification number (PIN) with others.
  • Use online banking when possible – the most common source of identity theft is paper documents.
  • Change your online passwords regularly.
  • Monitor your account information on a regular basis.

Academic calendar

View the Academic Calendars

Bus service and taxis

Rabbit Transit is the name of the local bus service. During New International Student Orientation you will be able to purchase bus tickets at 50% the normal price.

Rabbit Transit (York bus service)

Peace Cab Company
1435 Guildford Ln, York, PA 17404

Harrisburg City Cab
475 W Market St, York, PA 17401

You can find many options online and other students can give you advice concerning the reputation of various transportation companies.

Groceries and shopping

The York area provides a variety of grocery and shopping options. A few are listed below:

York Central Market
34 West Philadelphia Street
York, PA 17402

2801 East Market Street
York, PA 17402

Weis Markets
2065 Springwood Road
York, PA 17403

1045 Mount Rose Avenue
York, PA 17403

York Galleria
2899 Whiteford Road
York, PA 17402

Religious services

Partial list of religious services offered in the York area


Partial list of restaurants in the York area


The Penn State York campus has a variety of recreational activities available for all students. The campus features a gymnasium in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. That building also contains a large game room and a fitness center. There are tennis courts, soccer fields, and lots of open green space! There are also local recreational options including golf, skiing, bowling, camping, and movie theaters.

Penn State York Office of Student Affairs contact information

Everyone in the Office of Student Affairs is here to help you have a good experience while studying at Penn State York. Please contact us with questions.

Address: 1031 Edgecomb Avenue
York, PA 17403

Phone: 1-717-771-4045

Patrick Tanner
Director of Student and Enrollment Services

Dan Puccio
Associate Director of Student Affairs

Sheri Yoder
Director of International Student Services

Cynthia Jones
Administrative Support Assistant

Penn State York campus map

View the campus map and directions

Global Penn State

More information for international students at Penn State can be found at