Grant-Based Financial Aid Program

Penn’s grant-based financial aid program provides traditional, undergraduate students with a financial aid award that includes only grants and a work-study job for eight academic semesters. There are no loans included in students’ financial aid awards. The grant-based financial aid program, makes it possible for students to graduate debt-free.

Penn is the largest university in the country with an grant-based financial aid program. Through this program, instituted in 2008, President Amy Gutmann demonstrates the University’s commitment to increase access for qualified students from all economic backgrounds.

Q: Does the policy apply to every Penn student?

A: The policy applies to dependent undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Wharton School, who have not already received a baccalaureate degree.

Independent students, for whom no parental contribution is expected, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Because there is no expected parental contribution, independent students are expected to assume a somewhat higher share of their expenses than dependent students, and may continue to have need-based loans. The policy is in effect for the standard undergraduate career of eight academic year semesters.

Q: Will I be allowed to take out loans even if a loan is not included in my aid package?

A: Loans will still be available, at the student's discretion, to substitute for work-study and expected summer savings, for certain expenses not included in the standard academic year cost of attendance (e.g. health insurance), and for summer school. Read more about loans here.

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