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Information for Graduate and Professional Students

Here is a summary of how graduate and professional students can apply for aid, and the types of aid available.

Applying for Aid

Like undergraduate students, any graduate or professional student who needs assistance from the U.S. Department of Education to pay for classes must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In almost all cases, graduate and professional students are considered independent students and do not have to provide their parents' tax information on the FAFSA.

We recommend new students submit their FAFSA by March 1, and continuing students submit by April 15 to receive maximum consideration for aid.

Types of Available Aid

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: You are automatically considered for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans when you submit the FAFSA. Eligible students can borrow up to $20,500 per year and up to $138,500 during their career as a graduate student. The graduate debt limit includes Direct Loans received for undergraduate study.

To be eligible for Unsubsidized Loans, you must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits per semester for graduate and medical students, 6 credits per semester for law students). The loan(s) will go into repayment 6 months after you leave school or cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are not available for graduate students.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loan: For a Graduate PLUS Loan, you can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any other financial assistance received. After you apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan, a credit check will be performed. If you have an adverse credit history and are denied the loan, you can obtain an endorser (cosigner) or appeal the denial.

In order to qualify for a Graduate PLUS Loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits per semester for graduate and medical students, 6 credits per semester for law students). The loan(s) will go into repayment 6 months after you leave school or cease to be at least half-time.

Federal Work-Study: This need-based program allows you to earn money to help pay for educational expenses.

Other options

Employment: Opportunities for work are available on campus in a variety of locations. Visit the the Employment page for information or the University's Job Opportunities website to begin your search.

Assistantships: The most common form of graduate support, teaching and research assistantships, include a stipend, tuition remission, and a subsidy for medical insurance.

Fellowships: Fellowships are highly prestigious financial support packages that typically include a stipend, tuition remission, and a subsidy for medical insurance. They derive from University or outside awards. Unlike assistantships, they do not have a required work commitment; they are duty-free. Recipients must be enrolled in degree programs and be registerered full-time. Fellowship recipients are not permitted to accept employment without obtaining approval from the unit and/or agency supporting the fellowship.

Traineeships: Training grants are derived from agencies outside the University and are intended to support specific student learning experiences in core curricular areas and research methods. Institutional awards, typically under the direction of a faculty principal investigator, afford funding to support selected students with stipends, tuition grants-in-aid, and often include a subsidy for medical insurance.

For more information on assistantships, fellowships and traineeships, please visit the graduate school website.

Penn State Federal School Code

003329

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