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Consumer Information

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 70,000 a year. An outstanding academic experience for 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 devise a financial plan for 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 of paying educational expenses.

An offer of admission is not a guarantee of scholarship funding

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). 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 Parent PLUS Loan Program. 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 PLUS Loans can easily exceed $100,000 if a family borrows the maximum amount for a student's entire college career.

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.

Scholarship awards can be made by the student's campus (if other than University Park), college, the Office of Student Aid, or other administrative units. Awards are made to exemplary students and are highly competitive due to limited funding.

Students should pursue available scholarships through their campus or their academic college.

External Scholarships

Many students receive private scholarships through external organizations that provide funding. Here is some additional information on external scholarships.

Payment Options

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

  • The Installment Payment Plan allows payments in installments over four months

Attendance at a School Other Than Penn State

In most cases, Penn State does not process student financial aid for you if you attend another college or university.

Considering Another School?

You may be considering attending another school for one or more of the following reasons:

  • You would like to participate in a study abroad program, internship program or temporarily take classes at a college or university closer to your home.
  • Your academic college or department supports study at another college or university (other than Penn State) because it benefits you academically. Penn State does not process student financial aid for you if you attend another college or university, in most cases, due to the high risk of potential liability related to the repayment of Federal Student Aid.
  • Because the monitoring of attendance is a manual process for both Penn State and the other college or university you choose to attend, Penn State may not be informed if you do not attend or withdraw from classes during an enrollment period.
  • If Penn State is not informed, the Office of Student Aid is obligated to repay any federal student aid that you received when you were thought to be enrolled at another college or university.
  •  Manual disbursement of student aid funds  would be  required if you register at a college or university other than Penn State.
  • This manual disbursement of student aid results in weak audit trails, which could jeopardize the Penn State Office of Student Aid's ability to participate in federal aid programs.
  • If you are considering attending a college or university other than Penn State and currently rely upon student financial aid to assist in paying your educational expenses, please contact the Office of Student Aid to discuss your options.

The Office of Student Aid can, in most cases, process your student financial aid in the following situations:

  • You are planning to participate in a Penn State established study abroad program
  • You are planning to register for a Penn State course (and pay tuition to Penn State) for classes delivered at a college or university other than Penn State
  •  You meet general eligibility requirements

Students Convicted of Possession or Sale of Drugs

A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for Federal Student Aid funds.

Those convicted of an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student received Federal Student Aid will not be eligible for Title IV aid. A conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record will not affect eligibility nor does a conviction a student received as a juvenile, unless the student was tried as an adult.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for Federal Student Aid funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. (A conviction for sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.)

Period of Ineligibility for Federal Student Aid Funds
Possession of Illegal DrugsSale of Illegal Drugs
1st Offense 1 year from date of conviction 2 years from date of conviction
2nd Offense 2 years from date of conviction Indefinitely
3rd Offense Indefinitely

If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

Schools must provide each student who becomes ineligible for Federal Student Aid funds due to a drug conviction a clear and conspicuous written notice of his or her loss of eligibility and the methods whereby he or she can become eligible again.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when he or she successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program or passes two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make him or her ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it after successfully completing a rehabilitation program (as described below):

Standards for a qualified drug rehabilitation program

A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests and satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

  • be part of a local government program; or state‐licensed insurance company;
  • be approved by a state or local agency or court;
  • be certified by a health clinic, or medical doctor.

Please note: It is the student’s responsibility to certify to the Office of Student Aid that they have successfully completed the rehabilitation program.

Guide to Consumer Information

Per federal regulations set forth by The Higher Education Act of 1965 (amended in 2008), educational institutions are required to disclose specific consumer information about the school and the availability of student financial aid to prospective and continuing students.

The following is a summary of the consumer information subject areas and references to additional details and reports. If you need assistance or paper copies, please contact the Office of Student Aid.

General Institutional Information

Student Financial Assistance

Student Retention and Graduation Rates

Intercollegiate Athletic Program

The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act requires co-educational institutions of postsecondary education that participate in a Title IV, federal student financial assistance program, and have an intercollegiate athletic program, to prepare an annual report to the Department of Education on athletic participation, staffing, and revenues and expenses, by men's and women's teams. The Department uses the information to prepare its required report to the Congress on gender equity in intercollegiate athletics.

  • Penn State Intercollegiate Athletic Scholarships Penn State offers athletic grants in 29 varsity sports, 15 men's and 14 women's, at the University Park campus. Athletic grants are awarded by the individual coach responsible for the sport.



Information you discuss with, or provide to, the Office of Student Aid is generally considered confidential. Please note, however, that Student Aid employees, in accordance with Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (Title 23 Pa. C. S., Chapter 63) and Penn State Policy AD72 on Reporting Suspected Child Abuse, are required to file a report with the PA Department of Human Services if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child (a person who is currently less than 18 years of age) has been the victim of child abuse. More information about reporting requirements is available at the Penn State Office of Ethics and Compliance.

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