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NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of changes will be made to on-campus housing policies in Fall 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus. On August 11, 2020, the University announced that "with only very limited exceptions for international students and those students dealing with significant housing or personal hardships," undergraduate students will not be accommodated in University housing. If you require on-campus housing for Fall 2020, please fill out the Housing Exception Form. Check this page for up-to-date information about housing in Fall 2020.
Please remember that ISSS is not able to advise comprehensively on housing matters.
International students and scholars have several housing options available. New graduate students and scholars may need temporary housing for their first few days at Penn. After this initial period students and scholars can secure on-campus or off-campus housing. Most undergraduate live in university residences known as College Houses. Some graduate students and scholars live on campus in graduate residence halls, while others rent apartments and houses off campus.
Accommodations are typically in high demand in late August and early September, so it is advisable to confirm your housing early. Temporary accommodations may be found at nearby places listed below or at one of the various bed and breakfast establishments in the area. Numerous student organizations also coordinate programs that assist new international students with temporary housing or help with the search for an off campus residence.
Housing for the Academic Year
Freshman undergraduate students must live in university residences the first year. The majority of other students are able to choose where they want to live. Some choose to live in residences on-campus, while others choose to live in non-University affiliated housing off-campus in neighborhoods that surround campus. Visit Penn College Houses Website
There are a variety of factors to consider when making the choice of where to live: proximity to campus, costs, security, personal and family lifestyles, and transportation. Both on-campus and off-campus housing can be difficult to obtain in the few days just before the beginning of the semester.
On-campus housing is limited and not always available. On-campus housing choices include single, double and triple rooms, as well as one to four bedroom apartments. Single students and married couples can be accommodated, unfortunately children cannot be accommodated. On-campus housing options include furnished residences close to campus in a reasonably secure environment. Individuals new to Philadelphia and the University often prefer to spend the first year in University housing. All rooms and apartments are furnished, but the occupant will have to provide sheets and towels and the necessary kitchen utensils. Prices vary according to the type of accommodation and are subject to yearly increases. Note that some buildings close during the University's winter break in December and January.
Applications for on-campus housing should be submitted well in advance of arrival at Penn. Housing cannot be assured without written notification from the Assignments Office. One must sign a lease agreement to obtain on-campus housing. Signing this agreement obligates the occupant to pay rent for the full term of the lease unless he or she withdraws from Penn.
Many graduate and professional students, as well as international scholars, have stayed in Sansom Place and International House, which are convenient on-campus locations. Visit the links below for more information.
Within the University City area housing varies greatly in price, convenience, location, condition, and type of accommodation. In selecting off-campus housing, one must consider all these factors and be certain that the housing is secure. Prices in the Center City areas are typically higher than in West Philadelphia.
Sharing a house or apartment with other students or renting a room in a house are common ways of economizing on housing costs. Single rooms are sometimes furnished. Efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments include kitchen facilities but most often are not furnished. Tenants often assume responsibility for payment of all utilities (electricity, gas, phone) except water. Tenants must be prepared to pay three months of rent (security deposit, and first and last month's rent) when they sign leases for off-campus housing. The payment must be made by check or money order, not credit card. By signing a lease agreement, the tenant is obligated to pay rent for the full term of the lease, regardless of his or her academic status at Penn. Off-campus lease agreements typically cover periods of one year.
The Penn Office of Off-Campus Services can help both with housing searches and with understanding one’s rights and responsibilities as a tenant. This office can provide detailed information about where students live, prices per unit type and area, when to start a search and how to go about it.