HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College is a fully accredited, co-educational, non-denominational institution offering a broadly diversified two-year program of studies leading to a career or transfer to a four-year institution. Campuses are located in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York.
One of the first things you will need to do after arriving in Harrisburg is to open an account at a local bank. You will want a checking account, and possibly a savings or investment account. To open an account, you will need to present two (2) forms of identification and your social security number or your HACC I.D. number at the New Accounts desk. Ask the International Admissions Counselor about how you can get a social security number.
If you are not earning money in the U.S., then you can open a bank account without a social security number. You will need to fill out a government form called the W-8 Exemption. You can get it from the bank. Compare regulations and policies regarding minimum balances, interest rates, penalties, etc.
Checking Account: It is never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash, so you will find it useful to have checks. Checks are most often used to pay monthly bills (telephone, rent, electricity, etc). If you are paying bills by mail, you should always use checks. Never send cash through the mail. A checking account will provide you with an accurate, monthly record of your finances. You may use checks to make some purchases, but usually you must provide two kinds of identification to the merchant. You should receive a monthly statement from the bank to help you balance your account.
You must keep an accurate record of your account to make sure you have enough money for each check you write. Writing a check without enough money ("bouncing a check") will subject you to serious financial penalties and possibly legal action.
Savings Accounts: If you have a sum of money which you do not need to use right away, it is a good idea to open a savings account. Depending on how much you deposit, this account will pay you interest. You can withdraw your money from an ordinary savings account at any time, and such accounts are insured by the government. Other kinds of investment accounts may have some conditions and withdrawal restrictions. You will receive a monthly statement of your account from the bank.
Checking Card and Money Machines: A checking card also known as a debit card, will allow you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account, 24 hours a day, through computerized banking machines. These machines are known by various names such as Cashstream, MAC (Cirrus) or ATM. You will find that these are a wonderful convenience, although you must be careful about withdrawing money at night, if you are alone. You also can use your checking card to make purchases at stores that accept the card, like Giants, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and many more. Some debit cards carry a credit-card logo (such as Mastercard or Visa), and can be used in place of a check or credit card. Debit cards are not credit cards, however, and they can be used only to the extent that you have funds in the account to which they are linked.
Credit Cards: Credit cards will allow you to make purchases even when you have no money immediately available. Banks and other financial institutions, department stores, and gasoline companies all issue credit cards that can be used to buy goods. You are billed every month and are required to pay at least a portion of your balance each month. If you do not pay the entire amount due, interest (or a finance charge) accrues on the unpaid balance. The interest rate can be quite high, particularly if you have not yet established your "credit worthiness". The cost of credit cards varies greatly. The annual fees and interest rates charged by some financial institutions are much higher than others. It really pays to look around.
Credit Cards are convenient, but unless you are careful you may be shocked when you get your monthly bill. Keep all your receipts to keep track of what you spend.
Foreign Currency Exchange: Only the main branches of the major banks in Harrisburg have foreign currency exchange.