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Student Aid and Scholarships Policy

As a public university, Penn State receives limited support from the state.

Undergraduate enrollment across all Penn State campuses exceeds 75,000 a year. To offer an outstanding academic experience to our students comes at a cost and the University recognizes that Penn State may not be affordable to all who wish to enroll.

Students and their parents are encouraged to plan ahead and come prepared with a plan for how they will finance this important investment, and to determine the level of education loan debt that both student and parents are willing to incur.

While Penn State continues to build its scholarship endowment, available funds do not yet reach all deserving students. Student aid, including education loans, can help defray some costs, but students and parents have the primary responsibility to pay education expenses.

An offer of admission is not a guarantee of scholarship funding

Because of limited funding, Penn State cannot meet the full demonstrated financial need of all students. Students and their families have the primary responsibility for paying tuition and other costs. Education loans comprise the largest percentage of all available student aid.

Federal and State Student Aid Programs

Penn State participates in the major federal and state grant, loan and work-study programs. These funding sources make up the majority of all student aid funding with education loans the largest program. Eligibility is determined based on information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal and state need formulas are defined in regulation.  Student aid funds are awarded based on each applicant’s relative financial need until all funds are exhausted. Program regulations limit the University’s ability to make exceptions to the eligibility criteria.

Federal Student and Parent Loans

Education loans are the primary source of student aid at Penn State. Each year, the majority of Penn State undergraduate students receives a loan to help pay for their education.

For most students, federal education loans will be the only form of assistance available. Besides the loans available to students, parents who request additional assistance will be directed to consider the federal Parent Loan Program (PLUS). Parents who qualify for this program can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any aid to their student.

For out of state students, the total borrowed in parent loans can range up to $100,000 or more if required for four years of enrollment; this is the case where families must finance the entire cost.

University Scholarships

Each year, Penn State enrolls many outstanding and academically talented students and therefore cannot assist all deserving students. Scholarship funds are very competitive and limited and Penn State cannot guarantee an award to every student who may rank at or near the top of their class.

Penn State cannot negotiate student aid packages to match grant and scholarship offers from other colleges and universities.

One in five undergraduates receives a University scholarship. Awards vary and are determined by donor guidelines. The average award is $2,500 for the academic year. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit or financial need, or a combination, as defined by the specific scholarship program.

Awards are made primarily by the student’s academic college or by Penn State campuses where the majority of first year students begin. Fewer scholarships are awarded by the Office of Student Aid, and other administrative units.

External Scholarships

Students should pursue available scholarships through their campus or their academic college. Many students receive private scholarships through external organizations that provide funding.

Payment Options

To assist families in managing the payment of tuition and other costs each semester, Penn State offers two payment plans which may be helpful:

  1. Deferred Payment Plan: allows payment in three installments each semester
  2. Tuition Management System (TMS) Lion-Pay Monthly Pre-Payment Plan: allows monthly payments over the year
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