Paying for a Penn Education

How Does Financial Aid Work?


At Penn, all financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need. Penn does not offer aid based on academic or athletic merit. With financial aid packages that consist entirely of grant funding and work-study, Penn is able to assist families across a wide range of the economic spectrum, making it possible for students from a variety of backgrounds to afford a Penn education.

Penn is the largest university with a program that enables eligible undergraduates to receive grant-based financial aid packages for four academic years (or eight semesters). The program applies to traditional, dependent undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Wharton School, who are pursuing their first baccalaureate degree.

Expected Family Contribution

To determine your demonstrated financial need, Penn reviews the financial information you supply via the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and supplemental Penn financial aid applications. This assessment leads to a calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The Expected Family Contribution is a component of every financial aid package at Penn. For our highest-need families, the EFC may be very small, but our packaging philosophy is that your education is a shared investment between you, your family, and the institution.

Your EFC includes contributions from both your parents and from you, and you will see these broken out on your award notice. Your Parent Contribution considers income, assets, family size, taxes paid, number of siblings enrolled in college, and special circumstances. Your Student Contribution includes a summer savings expectation and may also consider existing assets.

The Expected Family Contribution is our assessment of your family’s ability to contribute to the cost of your education over time. In that spirit, some families choose to meet this expectation with a federal or private loan, or by budgeting expenses throughout the academic year using the Penn Payment Plan.

Please also note that the Expected Family Contribution will not match the billed expenses on your student account. Because Penn financial aid packages are based on the entire cost of attendance, which includes unbilled expenses such as books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses, some of your cost of attendance may best be utilized on budgeted living expenses. Please be sure you are considering the entire cost of attendance in planning for the academic year.

Grant-Based Financial Aid Packages

We compare your EFC to the Cost of Attendance for your academic program, which includes billed expenses like tuition and fees, housing, and dining, as well as non-billed expenses like books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. The difference between your Cost of Attendance and your Expected Family Contribution is your demonstrated financial need.

Penn meets 100% of your demonstrated financial need with grant funding and work-study. Your package may include funding from several sources, such as institutional Penn Grant, endowed donor scholarships, or state and federal funding. Note that international students are ineligible for state and federal funding, so their packages will consist entirely of institutional grants.

You will receive a financial aid notice each year via Penn InTouch outlining your cost of attendance and your financial aid eligibility with a breakdown of the various components of your package. Please contact your assigned financial aid counselor if you have questions about any of this information.


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