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RESOURCES FOR NEW GTA

This is a collection of general resources about working for the University at Albany and living in the Albany area. Information about teaching is available in the Graduate Teaching at Albany Handbook.

 1. What kind of institution is the University at Albany?

2. What do I need to know about moving to Albany?

3. What if I’m moving to Albany from another country?

4. Where’s my paperwork?

5. When do I see my first paycheck?

6. Am I eligible for any benefits as part of my Graduate Assistantship?

7. How do I access my e-mail and other network services?

8. What resources does UAlbany provide to support my research?

9. What student organizations can I join at UAlbany?

10. What is there to do in Albany when I have time to explore?

11. What’s happening in the UAlbany community?

 

1. What kind of institution is the University at Albany?

 The University at Albany is a medium-sized public research university with all of the characteristics of that kind of institution:

The University at Albany is the product of more than 150 years of change reflecting the evolving needs of New York State. It began as a distinguished College for Teachers, and the story of how that College was converted into an aspiring University is instructive. By the late 1950s it was becoming apparent that private colleges and universities would not be able to expand sufficiently to meet the educational needs of the state in the 1960s. A state problem produced a state solution: the rapid expansion of the State University of New York system of higher education, including the creation of four university centers (the University at Albany being one), with leadership provided by an aggressive governor, Nelson Rockefeller.

The modern University at Albany came into being in 1962 when it was assigned the mission of becoming a “university.” Albany adopted the conventional model of a broad-based public research institution charged with providing a liberal arts education for large numbers of undergraduates, developing graduate programs and professional schools, building a research effort, and serving the state which provided financial support. The 1960s was a decade of exuberant growth for Albany. Baby boomers crowded the Albany campus and enrollments quadrupled between 1962 and 1970. The numbers of undergraduate liberal arts majors and master’s, doctoral, and professional programs multiplied. In the late 1960s the University added about 100 new faculty members each fall.

Students who choose the University at Albany are some of the brightest students in the nation. The University received 20,250 freshman applications for the fall 2007 semester. Fifty-two percent were offered admission. Over 2,400 freshmen from 26 states and 13 foreign countries started classes in September 2007. Nearly 90% of new students were ranked in the top half of their high school class, and the middle 50% of the entering class scored between 1070 and 1210 on the new SAT exam.

 

2. What do I need to know about moving to Albany?

Geography
The main campus of the University at Albany is situated in the western outskirts of Albany. The downtown (old) campus is close to the urban center, about 3 miles east of the main campus. The East Campus is located across the Hudson River from Albany in East Greenbush. University students and employees commute to all three campuses from throughout the Tri-City area, which includes Schenectady, Albany, Troy, and the suburbs of Guilderland, Latham, Delmar and Rensselaer
(see Area Map). Depending on one’s need for nature and tolerance for commuting, some university employees choose to live as far north as Saratoga Springs, to be near the Adirondack mountains, or as far south as Ravenna or Hudson, to be near the Catskill Mountain. (Return to top)

Residential Options
Residential options range from urban townhouse neighborhoods to completely rural farm settings. Many university employees live within walking/biking distance in the neighborhoods surrounding the main campus. If you want to live within a short drive or bus ride, or moderate walk to the main campus, consider renting or buying within this 4-sided zone: west of Manning Boulevard; east of Hwy 155; north of New Scotland Avenue; south of Central Avenue. Some students live in the historic downtown area near Center Square, the Mansion District, and Lark Street. If you want to live in (or avoid living in) the lively student neighborhoods, keep in mind that many undergraduate students live in the "Pine Hills" neighborhood, which includes the areas around the UAlbany Downtown campus, the Sage Colleges campus, The College of Saint Rose campus, Albany Law School, and Albany Medical College.

The City of Albany website features articles characterizing many of the different neighborhoods within the city itself. If you plan to rent, a good place to start is the Renter’s Guide. The Off-Campus Housing office also keeps a Housing Registry, which lists information about available properties in the area. You may also want to talk with other graduate students in your department about preferred places to live. There are several suburban-style apartment complexes within 5 miles of the main campus, and these offer a good short-term solution until you get to know the region; likewise for several large urban apartment buildings near the downtown campus and Washington Park.

Schools and School Districts (Click on this link for details.) (Return to top)

Child Care and Babysitting
Some UAlbany graduate students take advantage of the on-campus childcare program, U-Kids (518)-442-2660; however, there is a long waiting list for this service and many have found alternative programs such as posting openings for a childcare/ babysitting position through the Career Center at the College of St Rose. You can also start your search by contacting The Capital District Child Care Council (Return to top)

Utilities
National Grid is the only contact you will need to set up electrical and gas service to your home. There are several choices for telephone service in Albany. TimeWarner is the primary cable provider in the area. If you buy a house, you will need to contact the City of Albany Water Supply at (518) 434-5300 to establish water service. Each municipality outside of the city also maintains its own water and sewer department. (Return to top)

Public Transportation
Bus service is reliable, frequent and free (on several routes) to anyone with a valid UAlbany ID. CDTA has a number of bus lines and shuttles that run between many neighborhoods, schools and shopping centers. Those lines that are not free cost $1.00 per ride. (Return to top)

Driving a car in New York state
Within 30 days of moving to New York state you are required by law to register your car and get a NY State driver's license at the local branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at 224 South Pearl Street. This must be done in person. You should plan on spending about ½ day in the DMV to complete the process, if your documentation is normal. Early morning is busy. Take note of the hours of operation since they are not the same for every day of the week.

Study the DMV website well in advance of going, so that you can be sure all your documents are ready. The extracts below will give you an idea of what you’re in for:
To register your car in NY you need to have in hand the following documents.

1. Proof of NY car insurance (if you come from another state, your policy will not transfer)
2. Title/Proof of ownership (You can register a car only if your own name is on the title document. If your spouse is a co-owner on the title, he/she must be present with you to register the car, OR, you will need to get a statement of joint ownership to bring with you.)
3. New York Vehicle inspection document
4. Proof of identity (Passport is ideal)
5. You might be asked to document your New York residence, such as by showing a letter/bill addressed to you at your new New York address.

To get a NY driver’s license you need to bring the following documentation:

1. Your Social Security Card (an original, not a photocopy—we’re not kidding!)
2. Your current valid license from another state
3. Additional proof of identity. A passport is the easiest of these. For others, see the ID points chart at DMV.
4. You might be asked to document your New York residence, such as by showing a letter/bill addressed to you at your new New York address.

If you are not a citizen of the U.S., here are guidelines for getting a license: Automobile informatio n for international residents (Return to top)

Parking your car in Albany
Downtown Albany . If you plan to live in the urban areas of Albany and you want to maintain a car, keep in mind that off-street parking is not a common convenience. Street parking is necessary in many cases, with its ensuing headaches: changing no-parking zones depending on day of week and time of day; unavailability of space at peak hours; cars buried by snow plows, etc. Parking on Campus .

Parking on Campus. Parking on campus with a student permit is cheap and easy. Once you are registered for classes, you can download a vehicle registration form from Parking and Mass Transit Services and drop it off at this same office on campus, along with a check for $20. They will give you a permit while you wait. You can also do this by mail.

 

3. What if I’m moving to Albany from another country?

Social Security Number and Card. Without this card you will not be able to get paid in the U.S. and you may have difficulty doing many of the things you need to do to survive here (bank account; utility services; cellular phone, etc.). To get your card, go to the Social Security Administration in downtown Albany in person with the proper documents.

Establishing a credit record in the U.S.
Having a record of successful debt repayment is important to your financial future in the U.S. For future large purchases (car, house) you will need to have a good credit score, which you can establish in several ways. Many people start by getting a secured credit card in order to initiate a credit history. Check with your local bank. You might be able to get a credit card when you open your account.

For other questions related to immigration, start with Human Resources Management and the department of International Student & Scholar Services (518) 591-8189.

 

4. Where’s my paperwork?

After receiving a verbal offer of a graduate assistant position, you will likely begin staking out your mailbox, waiting for a packet of information from the University. Stay in contact with the department chair who hired you, or his/her administrative assistant, to make sure a written offer letter comes to you in a timely manner, so you can prepare your move while knowing that you really have a position.

You will not receive most of your paperwork until you have arrived here in Albany and come to campus. Human Resources Management will send to your department a large packet with information about health and retirement benefits, faculty union membership, etc.

You should report to Human Resources Management within the first 3 days of your employment with the University (as per Professional Employment Procedures) to complete the necessary paperwork. Most importantly, you will be asked to submit an Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) form, so that you can be put on the payroll.

 

5. When do I see my first paycheck?

The date of your first paycheck is based on your appointment date, which for most graduate assistantships will be a few days before classes begin for the semester in which employment begins. So, for example, if your appointment begins in Fall semester, your appointment begins in mid-August; however, you will probably not receive your first paycheck until mid-September . Plan accordingly. All University employees on the New York State payroll are paid on a biweekly basis. A pay schedule is available from Human Resources Management. Human resources offers you the option of direct deposit, which automatically transfers part or all of your paycheck into a bank account (or accounts) of your choosing.

 

6. Am I eligible for any benefits as part of my Graduate Assistantship?

Most graduate assistants are eligible for a variety of benefits, including health insurance, employees’ retirement system benefits, flex spending accounts, and tax-deferred savings plans. Human Resources Management has all the necessary information about the variety of options available to you.

The Graduate Student Employees Union is the bargaining unit for state-funded graduate student employees at UAlbany. Dues are automatically deducted from your paycheck; to become eligible for the privileges of membership, however, you will need to complete a membership application.

 

7. How do I access my e-mail and other network services?

Usernames, ID’s and Passwords. You will not be able to access the internet or e-mail until ITS assigns you a Net ID. Your Technology Coordinator will help you procure one, and should be able to lead you through the initial steps of logging in and setting up a password. ITS has a page to explain the differences between the various passwords and ID numbers you will have. Once you have a Net ID, you will want to read about the MyUlbany portal.

Email and internet. When you log on to MyUAlbany for the first time it will ask you to create a complex password to access several functions. This password can be used to access different information systems (including e-mail, webmail, and Blackboard) by clicking the box next to each system for which you hope to use that password. Some students like the added security of having three separate passwords. UAlbany has multiple e-mail systems to provide you with the maximum flexibility. Read about these systems and how to set up each one on the e-mail webpage.

Wireless Campus. The public areas of UAlbany are wireless. With a laptop you will be able to access your e-mail while relaxing in the campus coffee shop.

 

8. What resources does UAlbany provide to support my research?

 

9. What student organizations can I join at UAlbany? 

 

10. What is there to do in Albany when I have time to explore?

 

11. What’s happening in the UAlbany community?