Finding Accommodations

Incoming graduate students in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering who need housing accommodations while looking for a place to live can contact the Community Living Office to obtain information about living in Baltimore. In addition, the periodic Transitional Graduate Housing Program allows students to stay on campus between June and the end of July. This program has very limited availability so students should contact the housing office for additional information. Contact: or (410) 516-7961.

Settling in

When setting up in a new place, it is important to be prepared for some of these eventualities:

  • Obtain a Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Driver’s license through the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Purchase of books and academic supplies
  • Transportation – getting to and from the Homewood Campus
  • Additional costs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with families.

The (Hidden) Costs of Moving In

Mobile Phone – Cell phone contracts require a Social Security Number. Without this, students may only be able to purchase prepaid plans (“pay as you go”). Using the customers’ name, address, and date of birth, some mobile phone carriers can run credit checks internationally. Based on these reports, they may require customers to pay a deposit of up to $500–750 before activation. If a customer maintains regular, timely payments for 12 months, the deposit may be refunded by credit card or applied to the account balance. It is important to check these details and policies with each mobile phone provider.

Pre-Paid Mobile Phone – Prepaid services generally do not require credit history or a Social Security Number. Buyers pay for the device up-front, and can purchase minutes, days, or points at their choosing. Typically there are no penalties or fees for nonpayment; the service simply becomes unavailable. Often with prepaid mobile phones, customers have to pay for the device to obtain service. Also, coverage may be limited by comparison to monthly plans.

Electricity – To turn on gas or electronic power in a home, companies may require forms of identification for activation – this can be a driver’s license, Employer ID Number, and Tax ID Number. Without credit history, power companies may require a security deposit that is typically between $150 and $200, depending on the average use of utilities in the account holder’s location. This may be refundable after a year, and students may request to have their security deposit billed to their account. It is important to check on specific details when negotiating set-up.

Internet/Cable – Television cable/internet providers may accept green cards, passports, and other government-issued documents. A negative credit history may require a deposit, but in the absence of credit, the deposit may or may not be necessary. A customer order may be put on hold for thirty days. Within that time, he/she may be notified if a deposit will be necessary. This must – without exception – be paid by credit card. After that, students can pay on their account however they prefer. It is important to ask about these potential details when setting up cable/internet service.

Housing – For most housing, future tenants sign a lease – a type of agreement between the landlord and the tenant with details about the length of the rental, what may/may not be included in the housing, and any specific policies. It is important to read this document carefully. The lease may require a first and last months rent as deposit, and an additional security deposit (which is a sum set aside in case the rental property is damaged).

Access to University Services

  • Identification card – called a JCard. This provides access to graduate student services – from the health center to the registrar. Department/Program administrators can help
  • Email and portal. In order to gain access to these, you will be assigned a JHED (Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory) login. Upon enrollment, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will automatically be assigned a JHED.
  • Required health forms. All new graduate students and postdoctoral fellows need to complete these forms before coming to campus.
  • Office of International Students and Scholar Services (OISSS), for new international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Office of the Registrar. All new graduate students register before the first day of classes.
  • Office of Disability Services (graduate students) and Office of Institutional Equity (postdoctoral fellows).

Welcome Week Events

All new graduate students are expected to attend the Welcome Week events, including orientation. The schedule outlines all activities leading up to and including the day of orientation itself. The Office of Admissions offers campus tours; and The Office of International Services partners with the Graduate Affairs offices to present programs for new international graduate students as well as diversity events.

Long-term Considerations

Tax Information

Graduate students are subject to specific tax filing guidelines by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a guide through this process the IRS provides Publication 970, which spells out all tax obligations for students. To obtain further information, please contact the Johns Hopkins University Tax Office at


Zipcar (Car Sharing) at the Homewood Campus

Finding affordable and convenient on-demand transportation upon arrival can be a challenge. A number of Zipcars are available to graduate students, faculty, staff and neighbors from the Greater Homewood community. Zipcar members pay one simple hourly (or daily) rate that includes gas, insurance, maintenance, a reserved parking space, and free miles per trip. Please visit the JHU Zipcar site for further information and rates.