There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with families at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. If your family is with you here in Philadelphia, you may find that your social life revolves around your family and their activities. Some students and scholars live on campus, and this arrangement can develop into a close community of people in similar situations. There are many things to consider when bringing your family. Below are some helpful resources to assist you in this process. 

  • Daycare
  • In the US, it is common for both parents to attend school or work outside the home and enroll their young children in day-care centers or arrange for a baby sitter to look after them at home. There are several day-care centers in the University area that look after children during the day.

    If you are looking for a good child care center, make sure that it is licensed by the state, has a low staff/child ratio, and provides an environment that encourages learning and personal development. The cost for full-time day care (usually 8:00 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M.) varies widely, but is likely to cost $200 or more per week for full-time care. Call each day care provider for current rates. Information about day-care programs in the University area is available through:

    Baby Sitters

    A baby sitter is someone who comes to your home to take care of your children for a limited time. The typical pay for this work varies but is likely to be approximately $10 per hour or more. If you employ a baby sitter on a regular basis, it may be suitable to pay by check but otherwise it is customary to pay in cash. In choosing a baby sitter, you should be sure that the person you hire is mature and responsible enough to respond to an emergency like sickness or fire. Be sure to ask for references before hiring a sitter

  • International Families and Public Assistance
  • It is not uncommon for international students and scholars with families to find themselves in difficult financial situations. This also happens to American students and scholars with families. There are benefits however they are ONLY available to US Citizens and permanent residents. 

    Administrators of public assistance programs often do not have expertise to assess eligibility based on immigration status, and may encourage you to apply for benefits. Please remember that acceptance of public assistance is a serious violation of status. 

    Examples of public assistance programs not available to non-immigrants include:

    • Aid to Families with Dependent Children
    • Medicaid
    • Food Stamps
    • Federally-funded housing programs
    • Free School Breakfast or Lunch programs

    Accepting any public benefits could jeopardize your non-immigrant status and could result in your having great difficulty in remaining or re-entering the US.


There are basically two types of schools in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas: public schools, which are free, and private schools, which charge a tuition fee. Some private schools have a religious affiliation. Within the school system there are three levels of education:

  • Elementary School (ages 6-10)
  • Middle or Junior High School (ages 11-13)
  • High School (ages 14-18)

All schools in Philadelphia, except colleges and universities, are listed in the blue section of the White Pages phone book.

  • Public Schools
  • Philadelphia's public schools are available to any child living in the city, but the quality and accessibility vary. Students are generally required to attend the public school in their neighborhood, unless they pay tuition to attend another school. The School District of Philadelphia also includes charter and magnet schools. For more information you can call the district, 215-400-4000.

    To enroll a child in a public school, you need to bring the following items:

    • Proof of the child's age (i.e., passport)
    • Proof of your current address (i.e., utility bill)
    • Immunization records showing that your child has been inoculated for tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, German measles, diphtheria and hepatitis B
    • Any other useful information from your child's former school

    In addition to neighborhood schools, there are also special schools called "magnet schools." Magnet schools attract students from all areas of the city, based on superior academic performance, or a special talent such as the performing arts. Students living anywhere in the city may be admitted to these schools if they pass special entrance examinations or otherwise meet the special admission requirements. Magnet schools in the public system include:

    Central High School 
    Ogontz and Olney Aves.
    Girls High School
    Broad and Olney Aves.
    Masterman School (Grades 5-12)
    17th and Spring Garden Sts.
    Girard Academic Music Program (Grades 5-12)
    21th and Ritner Sts.

    For information on schools outside the Philadelphia area, call the respective school districts listed in local phone books.

  • Private Schools
  • For information about private schools in the Philadelphia area, consult with:

    Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools
    Tel: 610-527-0130
    Fax: 610- 527-4332

    There are two main religiously-affiliated private school systems in Philadelphia: Catholic and Quaker.

    The Catholic school system (also called Diocesan) is run by an order of Roman Catholic nuns, priests or brothers whose mission is education. The standard of education in these schools is generally good to excellent, and the tuition is moderate. Students are not required to belong to the Catholic faith, but religious education may be required.

    Archdiocese of Philadelphia

    The Society of Friends (popularly known as Quakers) also has several good schools in Philadelphia that are known as “Friends schools”. In addition to meeting a high standard of education, they provide some religious teaching according to Quaker traditions. The tuition at these schools tends to be high.

    Friends Council on Education
    1507 Cherry Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    Tel: 215-241-7245
    Fax: 215-241-7299