Penn State scholarships, student loans and grants

How to pay for this popular state school.

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Penn State might not have the price tag of a private university, but it also doesn’t have the funding. Its students graduate with more student debt than the national average, as need-based funding isn’t guaranteed.

How much does it cost to go to Penn State?

Cost of attending Penn StateAnnual cost
Tuition and fees
  • In-state: $18,436
  • Out-of-state: $33,664
Room and board$11,280
Other expenses $1,840 to $5,062
Total cost for the 2018–2019 academic year
  • In-state: $31,556 to $34,778
  • Out-of-state: $46,784 to $50,006

As you can see, Penn State’s tuition and cost of attendance are two different things. And if you’re an out-of-state student, you could pay up to $15,000 more to attend.

What’s the average debt load of Penn State students?

Penn State’s Class of 2016 graduated with an average debt load of $37,307, according to the Department of Education. That’s just over the national average of around $37,000 for that year. You can reduce the amount of debt you graduate with by looking into other types of financing like scholarships, grants and work-study programs first.

Does Penn State offer tuition payment plans?

Yes, Penn State has an installment payment plan, allowing students to break up their balance into four payments during the fall and spring semesters and three during the summer.

Here’s when payments are due during the 2018–2019 academic year:

PaymentFall semesterSpring semester
First payment dueAugust 22January 27
Second payment dueSeptember 22February 22
Third payment dueOctober 22March 22
Fourth payment dueNovember 22April 22

It costs $45 per semester to enroll, though you’re not charged interest. You can enroll online as soon as your tuition and fees show up on your student account. If you enroll after the first payment’s due date, 50% of your balance is due on the second payment date.

Top Penn State scholarships and grants

Penn State offers several scholarships and grants, though most are only available to a small group of students. Here are some of the university’s top options:

Penn State Academic Grant

The Penn State Academic Grant is a need-based program for students whose families can’t afford to cover the cost of attendance out of pocket. Not all students are guaranteed to have their full needs met — or even receive this grant. However, all students are considered before it’s awarded.

Bunton-Waller Scholarship

This need-based award goes to students unable to cover the cost of attendance themselves. You must file the FASFA to be considered, and the scholarship can be renewed to cover up to four years of school.

Renaissance Scholarship

The Renaissance Scholarship is both a merit- and need-based award for high-achieving students. While it’s not enough to pay for tuition or even room and board, it could potentially cover most of your personal expenses if you qualify. You can renew it for up to four years, depending on the application.

Trustee Scholarship

All full-time students could be eligible for a scholarship through one of Penn State’s trustee programs. Reach out to the university’s financial aid department to find out if you’re a good fit.

Campus scholarships

Each Penn State campus has its own scholarship program for students. Awards are based on factors such as academics, standardized test scores, financial need and demonstrated leadership and community service.

Other Penn State scholarships

Here are several other Penn State scholarships and grants that could help you put a dent in your cost of attendance:

  • Andrew James Bartels Memorial Scholarship
  • Dolores Bush Scuderi and Richard J. Scuderi Scholarships
  • Employees of Consolidated Freightways Scholarship
  • Frank A. Sinon Scholarship at Penn State
  • Henrietta M. Fisher Memorial Honor Scholarship Fund
  • Irene Cheng Memorial Award
  • Laurel Haven Endowment Scholarship
  • Office of Educational Equity Scholarship
  • Steve A. Garban Grant-in-Aid
  • The David Schwebel Endowed Memorial Scholarship

    On top of this, each college offers merit-based scholarships to its freshmen and upperclassmen. Some require an application, while others automatically consider all students. You can find out if or when you’re required to submit an application on the Penn State financial aid website.

    Student loans to pay for Penn State

    If you don’t qualify for enough scholarships and grants to cover your cost of attendance, student loans might be your next best option. The Department of Education and most private lenders recommend applying for federal loans before looking into private options — they’re often less expensive and more flexible.

    Penn State University Loan

    Can’t get enough federal funding? Your next stop might be Penn State’s University Loan. You don’t need to apply — Penn State already considers you for it after you submit the FAFSA. However, this means it’s not an option if you don’t qualify for federal aid.

    Interest rates are fixed at 6% for all students — with no fees. How much you can borrow depends on your need and the availability of funds. Repayments begin nine months after you graduate or drop below half time through student loan servicer Educational Computer Systems, Inc. (ECSI).

    If you need even more funding after exhausting your federal and university loan options, you might want to look into private student loans.

    Compare private student loan providers

    Updated November 15th, 2019
    Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
    Good to excellent credit
    Varies by lender (typically, total certified costs of education minus financial aid already received)
    Starting at 3.26% with autopay
    Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.
    Varies by lender
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    Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
    675
    $200,000
    4.51% to 9.26%
    Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
    700
    $500,000
    5.45% to 9.74%
    Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
    Good to excellent credit
    Varies by lender
    Starting at 3%
    Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

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    Bottom line

    Penn State might not cost as much as some private colleges, but students tend to end up with a higher debt load. If you’re considering attending this university, you might want to look into outside scholarships and grants in addition to in-school funding.

    Explore even more financing options with our guide to student loans.

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