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Guide to Financial Aid & Scholarships for Penn State Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

Attending college is a costly investment for any student. As important as college is, it can be overwhelming for students in need of financial assistance. At Penn State students can expect several financial aid options. Like most universities, Penn State offers federal and state financial aid (like grants), scholarships, and loans.

Most aid is need-based, with the exception of scholarships which are usually awarded based on merit. Grants, scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are awards that do not have to be repaid. Loans, on the other hand, have to be repaid. However, whether private or federal, loans typically do not have to be repaid until after graduation.

Penn State students seeking financial aid are encouraged to fill out and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Most financial aid programs require a FAFSA, even some Penn State scholarships.

Federal Financial Aid Programs for Penn State Students

It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford ALL college expenses; there are programs to assist you financially. Federal grants, and work-study programs are designed to help students in great financial need.

You may qualify for any of the following federally-funded programs:

Federal Pell Grant —is awarded to undergraduates with high financial need, working towards their first bachelor’s degree. This grant is awarded based on family income, and enrollment status. Maximum award is $5,350 per year; minimum award is $2,675 per semester.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Award (FSEOG) —is awarded to undergraduates with exceptional financial need, working towards their first bachelor’s degree. Students must be enrolled at least half-time. Maximum award is $1,200 per year.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) —is awarded to freshmen or sophomores who receive a Pell Grant in the same award year. $750 is awarded the first year; $1,300 is awarded the second year.
National SMART Grant —is awarded to students in their junior or senior year who receive a Pell Grant. Award amount is $4,000 each year for two years.

Students in need of financial assistance can also enter a federal work-study program within Penn State University. Students usually work up to 20 hours a week. Money earned is used to help pay for college expenses.

State Grants for Penn State Students

Penn State financial aid also includes state grants. Once you submit the FAFSA for federal financial aid, the information is then forwarded to be considered for state financial aid. Grants for Penn State students include:

Pennsylvania State Grant is gift aid for undergraduate students with great financial need. Maximum award amount is $3,770 per year for full-time students; maximum amount for half-time students is $942 per year.

State Grants for Out-of-State Students is awarded to Penn State students from the states of CT, DE, DC, ME, RI, VT, MA, OH, or WV.

Penn State Tuition Assistance Grant (PSTAG) is university-funded gift aid for undergraduate students working towards their first bachelor’s degree. Maximum award amount is $800 per year.

Scholarships Available to Penn State Students

Penn State offers a number of scholarships including athletic scholarships in 29 intercollegiate sports, and departmental scholarships. Some departments which offer scholarships include the College of Business, College of Engineering, and the College of Communications. Some departments require additional applicatons to be considered.

University-wide scholarships awarded for students with high financial need include:


  • Trustee Scholarship Program—is a one-year renewable scholarship with award range of $1,200 – $3,000.

  • Renaissance Scholarship Program—is a renewable scholarship for up to four years. Award amount is $1,250.

  • Donor-Sponsored Scholarships—is a one-year scholarship that can be renewed for up to four years. Award range is $500 – $3,200.

  • Bunton-Waller Scholarship—is awarded to full-time students with a high financial need. Award amount is $3,200.

  • Bunton-Waller Fellows Program—is renewable and can be used in combination with other financial aid. PA residents can use the funds to cover tuition, room & board, and fees; non-PA residents can use it as full-tuition waiver.

The Office of Student Aid automatically considers all Penn State students for university-wide scholarship programs.

Loans Offered at Penn State

Often times, students require more financial assistance than awarded, so loans are an excellent supplement. Federal loans include: Perkins Loan, Direct Stafford Loans, Parent PLUS Loan, and Graduate PLUS Loan. Loans are typically awarded to undergraduate and graduate students with a high financial need. Students can also consider the Penn State university loan which is awarded to undergraduate students with a great financial need. All loans require a FAFSA for consideration.

Three Tips about Penn State Financial Aid Programs

  • Get to know a representative from the Office of Student Aid. They will be your key source to the ins and outs of the financial aid process.
  • Be sure to fill out a FAFSA to be considered for all applicable financial aid programs.
  • Seek outside the university for private scholarships and loans if necessary. The Internet is a great place to start for scholarship searches and availability.

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