Approximately 47% of all Penn undergrads live off-campus, according to data received in late 2008 from the Office of Institutional Research. Most of them live in the area known as University City, in the blocks immediately west of campus to 43rd Street, an area where Penn Police has jurisdiction. A small percentage of Penn undergrads commute from other areas of Philadelphia and surrounding counties.
With the increased freedom of independent living comes increased responsibility for one's own safety. University City is a thriving, diverse neighborhood where many University students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff live and work. Students should educate themselves about the community and seek to be good tenants and good neighbors. The University provides many resources for students' safety and well-being. PennTransit provides shuttle service to all PennCard holders for the areas surrounding campus. In addition, a student may request a walking or bike escort when returning home in the evening. To minimize risk, students should be aware of their surroundings at all time, travel alone as little as possible, and take steps to ensure the apartment or house has appropriate safety features and is kept secure by the tenants. For further questions about safety, please contact Penn's Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-7297.
Many undergraduates wish to rent a rooming house with friends. The search for rooming houses begins very early, in mid-October to mid-November. The search for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments begins in January and continues through March. Communicate often with your child about his or her plans for housing the following year. The Office of Off-Campus Services provides detailed information to students about when and where to search and how to contact area property owners. Much of this information is available on our web site at www.upenn.edu/offcampusservices.
Financial aid awards remain the same whether students choose to live on or off-campus. There are many factors to be considered in living costs, including rent, meals, utilities renter's insurance and lease length. You and your child should discuss advantages and disadvantages to living both on and off-campus. The Office of Off-Campus Services provides average rental rates and financial planning worksheets in addition to information about rent comparisons between on-campus and off-campus options. Find our resources on our web site or ask your child to visit our office at Stouffer Commons, 3702 Spruce Street.
The best way to assist your child through the transition to independent living is to be in touch as often as possible. Make sure he or she understands that a lease is a legally binding contract and that all roommates should sign the lease so that the responsibility is shared. Ask about the lease terms, condition of the premises, if your child or his/her roommates have taken photographs. Remind him/her to communicate a problem to the landlord in writing as soon as they become aware of it. If a conflict arises, do not hesitate to contact our office at (215) 898-8500 or have your child visit us in person. We can provide lease review services and advice in resolving problems with repairs, security deposits, leases and answer any questions you may have.
Be sure that your child obtains tenant's insurance to protect his or her belongings. The landlord's insurance provides no protection for property damage due to fire, theft, leaks or other hazards. Renter's insurance is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. The Office of Off-Campus Services provides a list of companies offering tenant's insurance on our web site.
Contact the Office of Off-Campus Services by phone, email or on the web. We will be happy to help you.