Practical Matters

Compass Card

Your Willamette ID, also called the Compass Card, helps you do many things on campus.

If you ever lose your card, CALL the Service Center right away!  503-370-6911.  If you have any problems with it, take it to the University Service Center for help. The Service Center is in the University Services Building, behind the law school on Ferry Street. Call for hours - 503-370-6911 - or go to the website for updated business hours.

For complete details about the Compass Card, go to the site.

Building Access: As a student, you will be able to use your Compass Card to get into your own residence hall. When buildings are locked, you can use your Compass Card to access certain other buildings. Check the Compass Card website for those places.  Examples are: Ford, Smullin, and Eaton Halls and any computer labs in those buildings,; Sparks (gym facility) until midnight; and the 24 hour study room at Hatfield Library. AGSM students can access AGSM and law students can access the Law School until 11 pm. Faculty or staff may give you access to other buildings after hours if you need it for a class or work.

Use it to buy things on campus: You can also use the card to buy food and snacks from the vending machines in the residence halls, use the laundry facilities if you live in a hall with washers and dryers; photocopying at the Library, Smullin Hall, Atkinson, the University Center, and the Law School; pay for other purchases in the Bistro, at the Mail Center, and at the Willamette Store including the Millstream Market.

Adding funds to your Compass Card: The easiest method is to add funds online using a credit card. Visit the Compass Card page to do this. You can also download a phone app (IOS or Android) from this site. To add cash, you may go to a cashier at Goudy or Kaneko and they will add the money to your card. If you have questions or need help, visit the University Service Center and they will work with you to add funds to your card.

Meal Plan Points: Your Compass Card contains your meal plan points. Every time you purchase food at either dining halls the appropriate amount of points will be subtracted from your Compass Card. If you run out of meal plan points, you can buy food with the money you add to your card.

Oregon State ID

It is recommended that you get an Oregon State ID if you will be at WU longer than a year because you don't have to carry your passport around and be afraid to lose it. Banks, landlords, healthcare providers, etc. often ask for identification. Oregonians and other U.S. residents typically use a driver's license. Because it is issued by the same agency as a driver's license, the Oregon ID card is recognized as a valid item for identification.

You can get an Oregon ID at the Driver & Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Be sure to bring cash or a check, since they don't accept credit cards! In order to get your ID you need to bring your passport and visa papers, student ID, and a bill or bank statement you have received here stating your address here in the U.S. and stamped by the postal service. For more information and how to apply, refer to the Oregon State ID handout in the "My FOLDER" link here.

Applying for a Social Security Card

Also known as a Social Security Number - SSN, international students are not legally able to get a social security number/card unless they are working in the U.S. Officially, the social security number is used for employment and tax purposes so it is not required for things like renting an apartment, getting a cell phone, etc. It may be requested, but it is not required for those purposes. If you are offered a job to work, you are eligible to apply for a Social Security card. Your Social Security Number is a unique 9-digit number that will be your number permanently- even if you leave the U.S. and return later. It is used for employment, tax purposes, and many other situations as an identification number.

A Social Security card is NOT permission to work in the United States. There are certain restrictions on employment for international students and you must be authorized for employment in addition to getting a Social Security card. See Chris Andresen, Office of International Education (Global Learning Center) for information about work authorization.

A Social Security number is a powerful number, and if it is given out too freely, it can allow people to access your personal information and identity theft. Be very cautious about giving out your number online or over the phone. It is also a good idea to shred documents (not your card) that have your number printed on them (like bank statements) so that your information is not stolen.

For more information and how to apply, refer to the Social Security handout in the "My FOLDER" link here.


If you are here for more than a semester consider opening an account in an American bank so you have easy access to your money without having to pay lots of fees. To open an account take your passport, immigration papers, and Social Security card (if you have one) to the bank.

You can open either a checking account or a savings account (if you are planning on saving money for later). Most checking accounts automatically come with an ATM/debit card. For some accounts and at some banks, you may have to ask to get one. If you use your ATM/debit card in the machines at places other than your bank, be aware that you will be likely be charged at least one fee for each transaction. Some ATM cards are also credit cards. Make sure you understand how your card is set up. Your bank can help you set up a PIN to use your card at ATMs and as a debit card.

E-mail Accounts

You will activate your Willamette email account (create new network account) before you arrive on campus. See this page for information about Wifi networks around campus and how to access them. You can use public access computers in the Hatfield library and in computer labs around campus.

If you have any problems with figuring out how to open your account, you can contact WITS or ask a computer lab assistant: email or phone 503-370-6767. If they cannot help you they will send you to somebody who can.

Cell Phones

We encourage you to visit company websites and compare your options. We cannot recommend a particular carrier.  Remember to keep the receipts/contracts you receive, especially if you are paying a security deposit.

Most carriers have options for pre-paid or pay as you go service. These usually do not require signing contracts, credit checks or social security numbers. The plans offered will vary depending on the company. This type of service allows you to select the amount of money/minutes you would like per month. You are able to add minutes onto your account as needed. Paying your bill at the beginning of the month or buying minutes as you go will help your budget.

Some of the carriers may also allow you to choose from their post-paid service plans. While these generally require credit checks and the signing of a contract, some companies offer service if you pay a security deposit, which will be refunded at the termination of service if you have made payments to keep your account balanced.

Most carriers will allow you to use your existing phone, if it is unlocked and uses a SIM card. If so, you won’t have to buy a phone. Check with the your own phone carrier for options. If this is not an option, there are often deals where you purchase a new phone at a reduced price when starting service with the company.