Incoming GPO Student Guide

(updated March 20, 2015)

  1. NJ Residency
  2. Parking Permit
  3. Student ID Card
  4. Building Access
  5. Email, ListServs, & Network Access
  6. University Trainings
  7. Payroll & Direct Deposit
  8. Registering For Classes
  9. Tuition Remission
  10. Insurance and Benefits
  11. Housing
  12. Travel Awards
  13. Library Resources
  14. Recreation
  15. International Students
  16. Server Backup

This guide has been developed by current GPO graduate students for incoming graduate students. Its purpose is to make the transition to Rutgers as smooth as possible and to provide a resource for students throughout their tenure as Rutgers graduate students. It is entirely open-source and should be updated whenever possible.

Things to Add: website space, year-end progress report, checklist, collection permit

1. NJ Residency

If you are not already a NJ resident, it is recommended that you change your residency in order to lower your tuition and generally make your life easier. You must be a NJ resident for a year before you will be granted resident status so it is essential that you change your residency quickly. The best way to “prove” residency is to get a NJ driver’s license or other photo identification card and to register to vote in NJ. All of this can be done at the DMV. (Note: Apparently, you can prove tuition-based residency without giving up your voting rights in another state. I don’t know the details but it is supposed to be possible.)

The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission website describes the evidence you need to collect to prove residency and other procedures involved in relocating to the state:

You can file for instate tuition in your third semester. It can be done a week or two before the end of the semester and applied retroactively to that semester. The application for instate tuition and details on the process are available here:

The application and the documents have to be notarized. This is free if you do it in the Graduate Registrar’s office but you have to make sure the notary is there at the time you want to file your application. Ultimately, forms must be delivered to the Administrative Services Building, 65 Davidson Rd, Rms 200 A-L, on Busch campus.

There are a lot of useful graduate student forms here:

2. Parking Permit

As a TA (teaching assistant) or GA (graduate assistant), you are entitled to a Rutgers Faculty/Staff parking permit. You can claim a temporary parking pass when you first arrive by bringing your “appointment letter,” the letter accepting you into the program and describing your assistantship, to the Department of Transportation Services in the Public Safety Building at 55 Commercial Avenue. You must apply for your real parking permit after your first paycheck. It’s a convoluted process but the reason is that the cost of a parking permit is proportional to your income and the paycheck indicates what that income is. As a TA/GA, your parking permit will cost about $30 each year.

For more information on parking, visit the RU Dept. of Transportation Services website:

3. Student ID Card

You may get your student ID card one week prior to the start of class at any RUconnection card office with a valid-government issued form of photo ID. These cards are used at the library, the gym, intramural sports, etc. See the following website for more information:

4. Building Access

You should talk with your adviser about what offices, lab spaces, storage spaces, etc. you should get access to. Lillian Lee (Room 104) will issue these keys and a card for accessing the building after hours with a $10 deposit. I would strongly recommend getting a key for the courtyard – it’s a good place to lock a bike and eat lunch.

Your office key will also open Room 203 if you ever need to get in when it is locked.

You can also get a key to your desk so that you can lock the drawers if you wish to leave valuables in them (e.g. purse, laptop, etc.). There have been instances of things being stolen out of open offices in the building, so it is suggested that you do not leave valuables out. To acquire a desk key tell Lilllian Lee the letters/number on the lock on your desk.

5. Email, ListServs, & Network Access

When you start, you should talk to Sarah Kasule or IMCS tech support about being setup with an IMCS email address ( At the same time, ask to be added to the GPO and IMCS email lists and register your computer on the relevant networks (IMCS, Blake, Lipman, Tuckerton, etc.). It will also be a good idea to ask your adviser about what printer to use. There is no uniform procedure throughout the building.

You can check your IMCS email through the IMCS webmail application or you can set it up to go through your Gmail or other email client.

Rutgers University will issue you an array of other email addresses that you’ll have to keep track of as well. The list of email addresses is in constant flux but you’ll figure it out.

6. University Trainings

There are official university trainings you have to complete before being allowed to drive university vehicles, conduct lab research, work with animals, etc. You should talk with your adviser, lab manager, and/or McGuinness, Lora (mcguinne@marine.rutgers_edu) to identify which trainings will be relevant to your graduate experience. Resources for a few relevant trainings are listed below:

You have to renew your lab safety training annually. This can be done in person or online. I would recommend doing it online here:

If you do the Defensive Driving course and become certified to drive university vehicles, there are a number of faculty and campus organizations with trucks and vans that can be borrowed for research, teaching, or outreach purposes with gas and mileage charged to a grant. This is often easier/cheaper than renting a vehicle from an outside rental company.

7. Business Cards

If you are interested in getting business cards to distribute at conferences, meetings, etc., order them through this website:

Login in to the website with “rutstu” in all three boxes and design your formal Rutgers / IMCS business card! You’ll have to pay with a credit card but can TABER this later.

8. Payroll and Direct Deposit

9. Registering For Classes


Look up courses here:

Register for courses here:

IMCS course descriptions are listed here:

As PhD students, we are allowed to take two high level undergrad courses (300 or 400 level) as well. Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems (11:628:320) is a common undergrad course that many grad students take, and is particularly helpful if you don’t have a marine science background

You are also allowed to take courses in other departments (Ecology and Evolution, Atmospheric Science, Geology, Biochemistry, Environmental Science, etc). So make sure to look at the offerings for those departments too, which can be found on the course look up site listed above.

If you are on a GA, you will sign up for 6 GA credits a semester. These credits don’t count towards graduation, but are required to maintain status as a GA. The same goes for TAs – 6 credits every semester. If on a Fellowship, you don’t sign up for these types of credits per semester, you will sign up for the graduate fellowship and it will show up on the transcript as zero credits. Research credits are separate and you also use Webreg to register for them. You can only take 9 credits (research and course credits, but not the GA credits) a semester unless you get approval. Check out the degree requirements here:


A clarifying email from GPO Director John Wilkin:

(A) There are course credits, and research credits, that count toward degree requirements. You must complete the necessary number of each by the time you submit your dissertation.

If you have more than you need, that’s OK, but it means someone paid tuition on those credits unnecessarily. So try to hit just the right number by the end.

Once you are close to the end this means you likely do not to register for 9 course+research credits so are not immediately considered full-time. That is not an issue for Rutgers, but in some situations may require some further action on your part.

  1. For international students there is a form I sign to confirm your full time status for visa purposes.
  2. Those of you buying a student discount ticket on NJ Transit may need me to sign a form confirming full-time status.
  3. For students deferring student loan payments – you guessed it – there is a form I sign.

(B) If you have a GA register for 6 GA credits. A TA, register for 6 TA credits. These credits DO NOT count toward the degree requirements. They are to track your effort during the semester so that you cannot register for an amount of coursework that would make it difficult for you to meet your research or lab responsibilities as a GA (nominally ~15 (?) hours a week).

Research credits… the rules aren’t bizarre, just the steps to get all credits while making everyone happy. (For MS students, this really doesn’t much matter b/c they only need 6 research credits). For PhD students, make the department happy by not taking many or any research credits your first year when you’re crazy expensive as a non-resident. Then, make your advisor happy by taking 10 research credits per semester on the department’s dime during your second and third years (now you should be a resident for purposes of tuition) when you’re cheaper (and once you register for enough credits to be considered full time (9, maybe?), its all the same cost up to the credit limit (18, maybe?)). Since we need 42 research credits, you can get 4*10=40 in just those two years as the cheapest route. Then, stay cheap for your advisor (or IMCS if they have to pick up your tab) by only registering for 1 research credit each following semester. If you graduate in 4 years (WTF!), you’d have exactly 42 research credits. The real game comes in when you try to lower the number of research credits during your cheap years (according to your advisor) to make up for the fact that NOBODY graduates in 4 years and then spread those credits out over the remaining semesters so that you don’t take more than 42 research credits during your whole time here. Totally convoluted?

10. Tuition Remission

As a fully funded graduate student, you are not responsible for paying your term bill. Instead, you need to hand in a tuition remission form every semester. Sarah Kasule will fill out the form for you once you know how many research credits and how many course credits you are taking that semester. You need to fax or deliver this form to the Cashier’s Office.

Rutgers Cashier’s Office
Records Hall, 620 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1175
Phone: 848-932-2254
Fax: 732-932-1893

An additional place that this form can be handed in and processed at is:
Administrative Services Building
65 Davidson Road
2nd Floor, about halfway down the hallway
Busch Campus,Piscataway, NJ 08854-8096

11. Insurance and Benefits

To enroll in a health insurance plan…

On this page, you’ll also find information about other benefits we are eligible for. These include 1) a program which takes money out before taxes to pay for commuting costs if you use public transportation, 2) medical expenses not covered by insurance, and 3) child care.

12. Housing

Highland Park (right across the river from New Brunswick) is a popular place for grad students to live. It is easy to get to downtown New Brunswick, the train station, campus, etc from Highland Park via car, walking, bike. There are many apartment complexes as well as private rentals available.

Other options include North Brunswick, New Brunswick, Piscataway.

The Rutgers off-campus housing website:

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is a university-wide mailing list where people post about housing as well as selling and searching for various items. When you sign up, check the box that groups listings into daily emails to minimize the spamming.

13. Travel Awards

The Graduate School offers a variety of annual or semi-annual awards that can be used for conference travel, research travel, etc. The details of these awards are available here:

IMCS will cover half the cost of conference registration/travel to a conference in which you are presenting ONCE during your tenure as an IMCS graduate student. This is made possible through the generous donations of Dr. James O’Brien and will require that you send him a letter before and after the trip thanking him for his generous support. Email Rich Lutz for more details.

14. Library Resources

The Rutgers library system is a wonderful resource:

The library offers a variety of courses which you might find to be useful supplements to your other courses. These include the following:

  1. Courses on R programming:

If the Rutgers’ library does not have access to a book, book chapter, or article that you need, you can file a request for those materials online. They will provide the journal article or book chapter within 24-hours. It’s actually amazing:

Books will be delivered to the library of your choice for pickup.

15. Recreation

There are gyms and recreation facilities on each of the Rutgers’ campuses. There are pools, weight and equipment rooms, racquetball courts, etc. As a student you have free access to the gyms with your student id card.

There are also many fitness class and recreational offerings for an additional cost.

A popular class is the flex pass which is offered each semester and during the summer and gives you unlimited access to several fitness classes daily, (e.g. spinning, zumba, yoga, body combat, etc). See the recreation website for details and current offerings. Here is a link to the current flex pass, and it is similar each semester.

Many intramural sports take place each semester and grad students are allowed to play. In the past we have had a soccer team, and some of us play softball. Check out the leagues and organize a team if you want!