Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

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Finances

Salary

Postdoctoral Associates will receive their salary biweekly. Salary rates follow the Minimum Stipend Policy.

Employee Self-Service (ESS) allows you to view your pay statements, and update your personal information online. Follow the steps below to access ESS. 

  • Go to https://myapps.weill.cornell.edu.
  • Log on using your CWID and password. (Make sure CUMC is selected in the drop-down menu.) If it’s your first time logging in to myApps, you will need to download Citrix Receiver.
  • Click on the Apps icon at the top of your screen.
  • Select the Weill Business Gateway (WBG) icon.
  • Log on using your CWID and password.
  • Select the Employee Self-Service tab located on the top left of the page.

Direct Deposit

Since direct deposit is the preferred method of payment for all employees, postdocs are encouraged to open a local bank account immediately upon arrival. New employees will receive paper paychecks until they are enrolled in direct deposit. Human Resources will provide direct deposit enrollment forms during the onboarding process.

Banking 

There are numerous bank branches near the WCM campus including Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo.  Foreign nationals in particular are encouraged to open a checking account upon arrival to facilitate money transfers from your home country and deposit traveler’s checks. A social security number is not required in order to open a bank account.

Credit Cards 

In the U.S., credit and debit cards are widely used and often preferred over checks or cash. You can make most purchases using these cards. However, most people still use checks to pay for rent.

Credit cards are more than just a convenience in the United States -- credit card usage is also the primary means of establishing a credit history. Without a credit history, most U.S. financial institutions are reluctant to extend credit to foreign nationals. This makes it difficult to obtain financing for a vehicle, for example, and many international postdocs end up paying cash in full for such purchases.

There are options for international postdocs who wish to obtain a credit card in the short term, or wish to develop a credit history that will eventually allow them to successfully apply for a card:

  • Apply for an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) credit card through a National Postdoctoral Association/AAAS joint membership. By becoming an NPA/AAAS joint member, you are eligible to apply for the AAAS credit card issued by MBNA. As with any other credit card application, there is no guarantee that applicants are successful.
  • Apply for a secured credit card. This requires you to open and maintain a savings account in a bank as security for your line of credit. You are then given a line of credit as a percentage of the amount you put into savings, typically ranging from 50-100 percent. A secured credit card is easier to get than an unsecured credit card, however the annual percentage rate on a secured card is often higher. See the following warning to avoid applying for a secured credit card from an un-reputable source.
  • Become a secondary holder on another person’s credit card. As a secondary cardholder, you get the same purchasing power as the primary cardholder, but the primary cardholder is contractually responsible for the bill. The account and the payment history will, however, be detailed on YOUR credit report. This can be an excellent way to establish credit if the account is well-managed. However, if the account goes unpaid, then this information will hurt your credit score.  See the following information on the pros and cons of being a secondary cardholder.
  • Obtain a charge card through a major department store (e.g. Macy’s). As a foreign national, such cards are easier to obtain than credit cards. Although you will only be able to use charge cards at the individual department store, this can be a quick and inexpensive means to establish a credit history in the United States, and can make it easier for you to obtain other types of credit (e.g. vehicle loan, traditional credit card).

Social Security Number 

A Social Security Number (SSN) is used by employers and employees for tax-reporting purposes only. The employer needs to withhold taxes on your earnings using your unique number, and you need your social security number when you file a tax return.

An SSN is not a work permit. You do not need an SSN to open a bank account, rent an apartment, start a mobile phone contract, or get a credit card. You do not need an SSN if you already have one from a previous time in the United States. Your SSN is yours for life.

You will receive paperwork from the Immigration Office to take to the Social Security Office. Wait at least two days after your arrival is validated in SEVIS to apply. In addition, you will need the following:

 

Go to the Manhattan Social Security Card Center and bring all your documents:

123 William St.

(between Fulton and John Streets)

New York, NY 10038

You should receive your SSN in the mail within two weeks. After you receive your SSN, we advise you not to carry the Social Security Card with you, but to memorize the number or make a note of it elsewhere and put the card in a safe place with your other important documents. We all need to be careful to avoid identity theft.

 

Tax Information

Postdoctoral Associates are taxed as employees and have taxes withheld from their paychecks (federal and state income taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare, or FICA). They need to submit the necessary withholding forms during the onboarding process.

All WCM Postdoctoral Associates have the legal responsibility to file U.S. tax returns. Many factors impact whether an international postdoc pays annual income taxes or receives a refund of all or some of the withheld taxes—such as residency status and the terms of any tax treaty his/her country may have with the U.S. However, the interpretation and implementation of the tax laws are the domain of the Internal Revenue Service and the courts.  Cornell University takes no position on what the status may be for a particular taxpayer, and it does not have the authority to dispense tax advice.