Paying for Penn

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How to Apply for Financial Aid

Step 1: File your FAFSA

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is required for all U.S. citizens and permanent residents interested in participating in federal loan programs. The application opens January 1st for students seeking aid in the upcoming academic year. Students must input the University of Pennsylvania’s institutional code, 003378, in order for their FAFSA information to be sent to the university. If a student filed taxes in the previous year, that tax return information will be needed to complete the application. Parents’ information is not needed. Students must complete the FAFSA to be considered for Direct Loans, and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans.

FAFSA information will be sent directly to Student Financial Services (SFS). SFS will then prepare an official financial aid notice based on your FAFSA, which will be posted to Penn InTouch and mailed to the student, typically in May. If you have questions about your FAFSA application, you may contact FAFSA directly at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov.

FAFSA Resources

Step 2: Apply for Loans

Students can apply for Direct Unsub Loan and the DirectPLUS (GradPLUS) loan online through the Penn Loan System. A DirectPLUS loan is a federal loan students can use to borrow the amount listed as “Alternative Loan Program” in the SFS aid notice. After applying for the loans online, you must sign an electronic Master Promissory Note and complete the Loan Entrance Counseling for BOTH  the Direct Loan and GradPLUS Loan individually via www.studentloans.gov.  Loans will disburse after all required documentation is received, and you have active registration and charges for the semester in which you wish to borrow. Students can check the status of their loan applications by using the Penn Loan System

For further information please see our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the Financial Aid Office at 215-898-6415 or finaid@gse.upenn.edu.


Scholarships

Penn GSE Merit Scholarships

Penn GSE merit scholarships provide partial tuition support to full-time students in their first year of study at the Master's level (doctoral level students should see the Fellowships section of this webpage). The School seeks to provide assistance to as many eligible candidates as possible, currently awarding scholarships to 75% of incoming Master’s students. There is no application for Penn GSE scholarships. The awards are made at the time of application review by the academic divisions and are based on the academic merit of the application for admission. Awards are communicated at the time of admission in the acceptance letter. Scholarships are not taxable and require no service components. Scholarships are disbursed evenly in the fall and spring semesters only. Note: Students enrolled in the second year of CMHS and SMHC may be considered for additional merit-based scholarship the second year.

Dean's Scholarship

Penn GSE offers the Dean’s Scholarship in the amount of $10,000 to a select group of incoming Master’s applicants. Awards will be made based on merit assessed during the faculty review of the admissions application. Some programs may require additional information or application materials. Please contact your program directly to inquire if any additional information or application is required for this scholarship. The Dean’s Scholarship may be combined with other Penn GSE scholarship offers. Decisions for the Dean’s Scholarship are typically announced in a separate award letter in late April. Please note: the Dean's Scholarship is not available to executive-style masters or doctoral programs. 

Scholarships for Veterans

Penn GSE participates in the Yellow Ribbon program established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. GSE provides up to 10 matching awards at $10,000 each for eligible students on a first-come first serve basis. More information on the Yellow Ribbon program can be found here. Eligible students should contact Wanda Rothmiller at wmr@sfs.upenn.edu for more information.

Give a Year Scholarship

Penn GSE has been named a Tier 1 organization with City Year, an education-focused nonprofit that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to succeed. Partnership with City Year highlights the visions and values of both organizations, integrating the power of knowledge and service in addressing social problems. In recognition of this partnership, Penn GSE will award annual merit scholarships toward any full-time Master’s degree program to selected City Year corps members or alumni who have completed at least one year of service or City Year staff members employed by City Year for at least two years.

Those eligible for the scholarship must identify their City Year affiliation in the designated space on the online application and request a verification letter from the City Year Alumni & Career Services Manager. In order to be considered for the scholarship, prior to March, applicants must have a fully complete admissions application and submit the verification letter. The scholarship will be awarded in April. For more information, please click here.

Glosserman Family Urban Education Scholarship Fund

The Glosserman Family Urban Education Scholarship provides partial tuition support for select M.S.Ed. Teacher Education Program students who aspire to serve as teachers in the Washington, D.C., metro area public schools. Applicants who are interested in and dedicated to service in the Washington, D.C., metro area public school system should indicate this in their statements of purpose on the online applications. There is no separate application for the Glosserman Family Urban Education Scholarship. 

Outside Scholarship Resources

Click here for information about Outside Scholarship Resources


Assistantships

Graduate

Graduate assistantships are available to full-time, first-year Master's students. Assistantship awards are made by the academic divisions and are not available in all programs. There is no application for graduate assistantships. Eligibility will be reviewed at the time of application. If you are eligible for an assistantship, you will receive an invitation to apply in your award letter.

Graduate Assistants (GAs) are student workers providing academically relevant service such as supervised participation in faculty research projects, teaching support, outreach activities, admissions recruiting, student affairs, and other activities at Penn GSE.* GAs are offered a position with a fixed number of hours and hourly wage. These positions are available to both domestic and international students. 

*Please note that for students in the M.S.Ed. Higher Education and IEDP programs, the Graduate Assistantship process is conducted separately.

Fast Facts About Scholarships & Assistantships

  • No separate application process is required.
  • All scholarships are based on merit as shown by the strength of your application. GSE will not consider financial need as a factor when making award decisions.
  • If you are offered a scholarship or assistantship, the amount and terms will be listed in your admission letter.
  • All financial aid offers are considered final.
  • To accept your award, print both pages of your acceptance letter, sign it, and return it to the Admissions and Financial Aid office via email (finaid@gse.upenn.edu) or by mail or in person (3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104).

Fellowships

Dean's Fellowships

The Dean's Fellowship provides funding to doctoral level students and includes, but is not limited to, a tuition scholarship, a living stipend, and a research and teaching apprenticeship. Fellowships are taxable and include a service requirement in the form of the apprenticeship, which promotes the development of the student's research and teaching skills. There is no application for Dean’s Fellowships; award decisions are made by the academic division based on the application and communicated at the time of the admissions decision.

All incoming Ph.D. students receive a fellowship package, which includes tuition and fee support, health insurance, a living stipend, and a research and teaching apprenticeship. The fellowship covers four years of study and requires that students maintain full-time enrollment. Additional funding is available for those students who wish to continue their research and teaching apprenticeship in the summer months.

A limited number of Dean's Fellowships are awarded to incoming full-time, traditional Ed.D. students who show high academic potential. Packages may include partial tuition support, a living stipend, and a research and teaching apprenticeship.

Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education

Penn GSE offers a Pre-Doctoral Training Program designed to support and enhance the Ph.D. training of students in different disciplines who are committed to careers in applied, field-based education research. The initiative involves six University of Pennsylvania schools and multiple school districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. Fellows receive financial support, access to specialized resources and experts in the field of study, and become part of an emerging national network of students, faculty and practitioners conducting interdisciplinary research in the education sciences. For more information, click here

Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship

The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship is a tuition scholarship and a living stipend awarded to meritorious undergraduate students and graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and related area or international studies, or with the international aspects of professional or fields of study. FLAS fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Title VI National Resource Centers. FLAS awards are available only for specific languages, and are contingent on federal funding. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Students receiving FLAS Fellowships must be enrolled in full-time study for the duration of the FLAS award and must take one language course and one related area or international studies course each semester. Awards are made for the Academic Year or Summer. Academic Year Fellows must be admitted to or enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, or professional programs at the University of Pennsylvania. FLAS awards may be used in some cases for students participating in official overseas language programs and in very limited cases for dissertators. Please see the FLAS website for more information and to apply online.

Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund Fellowship

Students who have matriculated and are enrolled at Penn GSE may apply to this fellowship that pays tuition plus a stipend of $18,000 for three years. U.S. citizens in any field of study are eligible. The terms require that the Fellow conduct studies entirely within the USA and prove financial need. Typically 3 candidates are nominated by the University annually. Once you have enrolled at GSE and wish to apply, please contact the University Vice Provost for Education.


Loan Programs

Most Penn GSE students borrow Direct and either the Federal Graduate PLUS loan or private loans to fund their education. To be considered for these loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The University of Pennsylvania institutional code is 003378.

Your FAFSA information will be sent to the University's Student Financial Services office (SFS). If you have questions you may contact SFS at (215) 898-1988 or sfsmail@sfs.upenn.edu.

Federal Loans

Direct Loan

Direct loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The Direct Loan is a low-interest federal student loan for which interest accrues during the in-school period. It can be used to replace students' and parents' contribution.

Perkins Loans

The Perkins Loan program has been discontinued by Congress and will not be available to students after the 2015-16 academic year. Students entering in the fall 2015 semester must sign the Master Promissory note and receive an initial payment by October 1st in order to receive a disbursement in the spring 2016 semester. Students entering in the spring of 2016 will not be eligible for the Perkins Loan.

Direct GradPLUS Loan

Direct GradPLUS loans are for qualified U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled at least half-time in a graduate degree program. They are federal loans, not based on financial need. You may borrow up to your cost-of-attendance budget less any other aid. This loan requires that you pass a basic credit check conducted by the Department of Education.

Alternative Loans

Alternative loans: These are educational loans from private sources that require the borrower to demonstrate a satisfactory financial credit history.

  • Apply for alternative loans directly via the website of the lender you choose.
  • Compare alternative and Direct Grad PLUS Loans.
  • International students might qualify for alternative loans if they (or a cosigner) have 3 or more years of U.S. credit. 

 
Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs

For Teachers

Full-time, full-year teachers in public or private non-profit elementary or secondary schools may be eligible for cancellation of some of their original Direct loan balance if they are teachers serving in a low-income or subject-matter shortage area. To see which schools qualify as low-income click here. More information is available at the U.S. Department of Education website.

For Public Service

Under this program, individuals who enter into and continue to work full-time in public service jobs may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on eligible federal student loans after making 120 payments under qualifying repayment plans and while employed full-time by certain public service employers.  More information is available at the Federal Student Aid website.


Student Employment Opportunities

There are several opportunities for students to find work through Penn. A list of on-campus job resources is below. The weekly Inside Penn GSE newsletter always includes a few job opportunities as well; email Student Affairs at gse-staf@gse.upenn.edu to make sure you're on the mailing list. 

Federal Work-Study Program

Domestic students who have filed a FAFSA may be eligible to receive a work-study award. Students are able to select from a variety of positions located throughout the entire University campus and approved off-campus, non-profit, or governmental organizations. The Student Employment Service provides information about available work-study jobs. Penn GSE's work-study awards are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to those not awarded a Graduate Assistantship. Students should contact GSE's financial aid office at finaid@gse.upenn.edu if interested in receiving a work-study award, to see if funds are available. Work-study is a great way to reduce one's total borrowing and will replace federal loan eligibility dollar-for-dollar. 


Graduate Residential Advisors

Each year, the University hires graduate students to serve as Graduate Associates in the College House system. Duties include counseling undergraduates or graduate students on personal, social, and academic matters and helping to plan activities for residents. Remuneration includes a furnished room and a modest meal plan. Completed applications may be filed at any time, but those arriving before January 31 will be given preference. Please visit the College Houses and Academic Services website for further information and to apply.

Career Opportunities at Penn

Learn more about working at Penn full-time and search available positions by visiting Penn's Human Resources' website.