What is the Indian Graduate Student Association and what do we do?
The Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA) is a student-run organization for graduate students and scholars of Indian origin at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. We help incoming students settle in, navigate around the campus and enable the smooth transition into the life as a graduate student in the United States. We also host/ co-host social and cultural events throughout the year.
What is our mission statement?
We are committed to providing new Indian graduate students and scholars the know-how of graduate and professional life in State College, Pennsylvania. We also encourage participation from all members of the Indian community to celebrate our rich and diverse culture through various events organized throughout the year. While Penn State offers guidance to International students through the International Students Offices known as the DISSA, our services are tailored specifically to cater to Indian Graduate students based on our experiences.
How can you contact us?
What are the things the IGSA may provide recommendations on?
The IGSA can offer recommendations on:
a) How to select your first apartment in the State College, PA
b) Whom to contact to set up utility (heat/ electricity/ internet) accounts
c) Commute/ Traveling
d) Fun things to do around State College
While we are there to help you in any way we can, please be aware that the IGSA is not qualified to provide legal/ professional advice. We also understand that the recommendations provided based on our experiences may not always meet the expectations of all new students and scholars. We also encourage current members of Indian student community in State College to provide suggestions and alternatives. Please let us know of any tips and tricks you may have. We would love to add your suggestions to our ever-growing list for everyone to know.
What are the things we cannot provide information on?
The IGSA is a student-run organization, and so, we have our limitations. Some of the things we cannot provide recommendations on:
a) Academic and degree completion assistance
b) Immigration assistance
c) Assistance if facing disciplinary action
d) Emergency and Legal Services
e) Financial Advice
It's my first day on campus at University Park. What should I know?
We know you need a navigation assistance when you are trying to figure out where to go on campus. Penn State has got your back. As Penn State students, you have free access to WiFi on campus. You can either use your PSU credentials and follow instructions on your device to get connected to the internet. If you can't get it to work right away, you can opt for the free AT&T WiFi. With the power of the internet by your side, you may find navigation considerably easier. Be aware that the WiFi network can experience bumps when you move around the campus - the connectivity tends to bounce from building to building. If you are inside any University facility, you will have smooth access to the internet. You can use PSU Maps or Google Maps to reach your destination. Once you are in the right building, navigation within should be easy!
Yes, we are aware - maybe you haven't had a chance yet to set up your kitchen or shop for your groceries yet - so in case you skipped your morning coffee or the breakfast, relax and grab a cuppa at one of the many cafes and restaurants on campus. A go-to place will be the HUB-Robeson Building which has a Starbucks, Burger King, McAllister Deli, Panda Express, Salad Bar and much much more! You can also look for Au Bon Pain Cafe at Kern Graduate Building or near the Palmer Museum. Also, look for the closest vending machine for a quick-grab.
While you are at the HUB-Robeson Building, you can get your Penn State ID Card. Trot over to the ground floor of the HUB, verify your details and get your Student ID instantly. Your ID provides you access to several buildings (once approved by your department) and lets you borrow books and gadgets from the library. You can also choose to store some money in your PSU ID card (called LionCash) that you can use at the campus and at several grocery stores/ restaurants in Downtown. Follow instructions on the back of your card to transfer money to your Student ID from a Debit/ Credit card. Ask the Student ID office for more information. Moreover, if you have a PNC Bank account, you can link it to your ID and you have a second debit card at PNC Bank ATMs! You can also avail certain discounts by using LionCash. You can find out more by clicking here.
I have a question about my visa and I-20/ DS 2019. Whom should I ask?
What is the DISSA? Where are they located on campus?
The Directorate of International Student & Scholar Advising Office or the DISSA offers support for all international students and scholars attending the university on a study/ exchange visitors/ work visa. They are located on the fourth floor of the Boucke building opposite to HUB-Robeson Building. Click here for the Map Location.
Is obtaining a Social Security Number absolutely essential to get me started?
No. Your first essential tasks such as opening a bank account, getting a cell-phone connection or utility accounts do not require a social security number (SSN). An SSN can only be assigned to you if you have an offer of assistantship/ employment with monetary compensation. Applying for an SSN can take anywhere between a few days to a week. While an SSN isn't essential to settle in the United States, it does allows certain privileges such as getting a credit card, a Driver's License etc. In some cases, you may also be able to avoid paying a heavy security deposit if you have a verifiable credit history that is linked to your SSN. But you will not be denied a transactional bank account, pre-paid cell phone connection or the utility accounts because you do not have an SSN. Please note that the service provider may ask for a security deposit in the absence of an SSN.
Where can I find information to apply for a Social Security Number?
For obtaining an SSN, please visit DISSA in person or online for further instructions.
Where can I find information on applying for Pennsylvania State ID/ Driver's License?
You can visit the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) website by following the link to know the procedure to obtain a driver's license or a Pennsylvania State ID. Please note the SSN requirements before you apply.
A State ID is a form of identification document that displays your name, address, and date of birth. A State ID looks like a Driver's License, but it does not extend driving privileges in the US. To obtain a Pennsylvania Driver's License, you will need to complete a medical form that certifies that you meet the criteria to be able to drive in the State of Pennsylvania and in the US, followed by an in-person written knowledge test to obtain a learner's permit and finally, a road test.
Note that both, State ID and Driver's License, require a valid SSN or an SSN denial letter.
I received an offer of assistantship or fellowship for my first semester at Penn State. Whom should I contact to complete the required documents when I arrive at Penn State?
Any such offer generally comes from your department and hence the department administration will be the best place for further assistance and clarifications. You may also ask the DISSA.
I had income from my assistantship or my on-campus job during my first semester at Penn State. Whom should I consult about filing my taxes during the tax-filing season?
The DISSA conducts free workshops, as well as one-on-one consulting sessions every Spring for the international students filing their taxes. Click on this link for more information. You can also choose to use free online software or hire a professional agency to file your taxes in accordance to your immigration status. The IGSA cannot legally consult you on your taxes.
Have More Specitic Questions?
Let us know! A member of our team will contact you!