Admissions & Financial Aid FAQs

The following sections walk you through the application and admissions process, from an overview of our academic programs, to steps in the application process, to admission and financial aid. Click on the question to reveal the answer. If you have a question that is not answered on this page, please contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.



What Ph.D. programs do you offer?

Penn GSE offers 8 Ph.D. programs.

What Ed.D. programs do you offer?

Penn GSE offers 7 Ed.D. programs. 

You offer 21 different Master’s degrees. Which is right for me?

The M.S.Ed., requiring a minimum of 10 course units, is appropriate for advancing your career in education and many other fields. Penn GSE offers 21 M.S.Ed. degrees. 

The M.S. degree, requiring a minimum of 8 course units is designed for those who are preparing for advanced graduate study. Penn GSE offers one M.S. degree.

The M.Phil.Ed. degree, requiring a minimum of 6 course units, is appropriate for students who already hold a Master’s degree. Penn GSE offers 2 M.Phil.Ed. degrees.

What executive education programs do you have for the experienced working professional who wants to continue working while persuing their education?

How are executive education programs different from part-time programs? How do I decide which is right for me?

Executive education programs are distinct from part-time programs in two main ways. The first distinction is about experience. The ideal executive education candidate has a great deal of experience in their chosen field of study. The second distinction is about program delivery. Class meetings, structure, and deadlines are much more concentrated and intense when compared to a part-time program. This allows executive education students to focus on two equally important parts of their lives: their Penn GSE study and the high level of responsibility they have in their daily work.

Can I do a joint degree with one of the other 11 graduate schools at Penn?

Penn GSE currently offers the following joint degrees:[ER1] 

Annenberg School for Communication


School of Arts and Sciences

ECS & ELX Ph.D. with Africana Studies

ELX & ECS Ph.D. with Anthropology

ECS & HED Ph.D. with Sociology

Dental Medicine

Higher Education M.S.Ed.

Fels Institute of Government

Education Policy M.S.Ed.

Penn Law

Education Policy M.S.Ed.*

Higher Education M.S.Ed.**

School of Social Policy and Practice

Education, Culture & Society, M.S.Ed.

Intercultural Communication, M.S.Ed.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development, M.S.Ed.

Reading/Writing/Literacy, M.S.Ed.

Statistics, Measurement, Assessment, and Research Technology, M.S.

Wharton School of Business

Higher Ed Ed.D.


Which programs can I complete part-time?

Penn GSE offers 4 part-time Ed.D. programs:

Penn GSE offers 13 part-time Master’s degree programs:

Are any of the Ph.D. programs offered part-time?


Can I see examples of recent dissertations? What about Masters’ work?

Sure! Please contact individual programs directly. They will be happy to share titles of dissertations, policy briefs, final papers, and theses with you.

Are there available research opportunities?

Read about our multitude of research centers, including, among others:  

Outside of research, what other opportunities are available at GSE?

Penn GSE has a wide variety of projects and initiatives, including: 

What is the average class size?


What is the student-faculty ratio?


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Application Requirements

What is the application fee?

We encourage applicants to apply early. Every year our application fee is waived for all submitted applications between September 1 and March 1. A nonrefundable $75 fee will be imposed thereafter. 

What are the required application materials?

If you haven’t already, please review our application instructions page.  Note that an application is not considered complete until we have received all required application materials.  Please be aware that only complete applications are sent for faculty review.  Application deadlines can be found on our application deadlines page.

How will I know if you have received my application materials?

You will receive an email once your application has been processed for the first time, and each time it is updated with newly received items. At that time, you will also be able to log into your application account and see what materials have been received and processed on your behalf. Applications are updated manually by Admissions staff members, so please allow 3-5 business days after delivery of materials for your application account to reflect the receipt of materials. If you have not yet submitted your application, please note that we are not able to confirm receipt of materials. 

Should I call or email to ask if you have received my application materials?

Frequent calls and emails take away from our time to process and update applications, so please hold off on making inquiries about the receipt of materials. If you have concerns about the receipt of an application item, please feel free to send an email to  

Do I need to wait until my recommender has submitted his/her letter to submit my application?

No. If you have filled our all required sections of the application, you can submit your application.  

Can I make changes to my application after it has been submitted?

Be mindful that you can only submit your application one time. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate any requests to change the statement of purpose, résumé, or any other items after an application has been submitted. 

My application status says complete, what does that mean?

We have received all required application materials and your application is under review. You will receive an email once your decision has been made available to you. Decisions for master’s applications are usually rendered about 4-6 weeks from the application complete date. Decision timelines for doctoral applications vary based on program. If your application status is incomplete, we have not received all of your required application materials. 

I am re-applying, do I need to submit a new application?

Yes! You will have to create a new account with a new username and password (and possibly a new email if you experience any troubles) and upload a new statement of purpose and résumé. We are not able to “roll over” transcripts from applications that were submitted more than one year ago. Letters of recommendation must be re-submitted. Please send an email at least two weeks prior to applicable application deadline to if you wish to roll over transcripts. It is not guaranteed that we can honor requests to roll over transcripts. Please note that our application instructions are subject to change; make sure you follow the current application instructions when you are applying. 

I am an international student. Can you review my application without the WES evaluation?

We understand that it can take several weeks for a transcript to be evaluated. However, we are not able to send your application for review until we have received the WES evaluation, and any other required application items. We encourage you to plan early, and start the process as soon as possible.

Statements of Purpose

What should I write about in my statement of purpose?

You should address the factors that have encouraged you to seek an education from Penn GSE. You may also wish to describe your background, significant personal and professional experiences related to your program of study, important aspects of your academic record, and your professional goals upon completion of your desired program. 

Are there particular program requirements for statements of purpose?

Some programs have specific instructions for statements of purpose.

  • Counseling and Mental Health Services (M.S.Ed.) and School and Mental Health Counseling (M.S.Ed.):
    • Applicants should address their interest in the field of professional counseling and future professional goals.
  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management (Ed.D.):
    • Please submit a single document of no more than ten double-spaced pages. That single document should be divided into two parts, each not more than five pages.
    • For Part I, please submit a statement of purpose that describes what attributes of the program have led you to apply to the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management. Please address how your previous professional and educational experiences have prepared you to succeed in an accelerated doctoral program, how these experiences will contribute to learning in a cohort-based instructional model, and how the program will further your career aspirations.
    • For Part II, please submit an essay addressing the following question. From among the most significant issues and opportunities in your institutional sector or functional area of higher education, what do we not know about this issue and why do we need to know it? Please be specific, rather than referencing broad, general problems.
  • Professional Counseling (M.Phil.Ed.):
    • Applicants should answer the following question: What clinical strengths have you developed as a professional and what areas for further development would you like to address during your enrollment in the PC program?
  • Mid-Career Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.):
    • Identify a critical incident in your leadership experiences, an incident occurring at least a year ago but no more than 5 years ago. Describe the incident, the critical issues it presented, and how you acted. Reflect on lessons you’ve learned from that incident, and describe any ways in which you might analyze or act differently now if a similar incident presented itself. (750-1000 words)
    • How do you see this program furthering your aspirations? (250-500 words)
  • PennCLO (Chief Learning Officer Program):
    • In approximately 500 words, describe what led you to apply to the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program. Please address how your previous personal, professional and educational experiences have prepared you to succeed in an accelerated doctoral program and what you can bring to the learning community from these experiences.
    • In approximately 500 words, describe your most significant leadership challenge to date. (This experience should be no more than five years ago.) Describe the incident, the critical issues it presented and how you reacted. Reflect on lessons you've learned from that incident, and describe ways in which you might analyze the situation or act differently.


What should be included in my résumé?

Applicants should submit a résumé with details of relevant work and other experiences.

Do you have any pointers for writing a solid résumé?

We encourage you to ask yourself the following questions: Does your résumé show related experiences, transferable skills, and/or a commitment to your intended field? If not, consider pursuing volunteer opportunities or employment in these areas.


I have a copy of my official transcripts in a sealed envelope. May I mail or deliver this envelope as part of my application?

No, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be submitted directly from those institutions to Penn GSE.

What should my transcripts illustrate?

Ask yourself whether your transcripts show a history of academic success. If not, consider taking graduate level courses in a related area as a non-degree seeking student to demonstrate your academic ability.

I have a graduate level transcript that is not in English; must I have it evaluated as well?

Course-by-course evaluations performed by any member of the National Association for Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) are required for both undergraduate and graduate transcripts. 

I am applying through Fulbright. Do I need to send transcripts?

No. Because Fulbright verifies these documents upon receipt, we will accept them directly. 

My undergraduate course of study was not taught in English. Do you need an official copy of my transcripts in addition to the NACES course-by-course evaluation of those transcripts?

No, the NACES evaluation of your official transcripts will suffice.  

Although my undergraduate course of study was not taught in English, I have since obtained a graduate degree for which the course of study was taught in English. Do I still need to submit an official copy of my undergraduate transcripts to NACES for a course-by-course evaluation?

Yes, please submit an official copy of your undergraduate transcripts to NACES to be evaluated.  

My undergraduate course of study was taught in English, yet I have a graduate degree from a course of study that was not taught in English. Do I need to submit an official copy of my graduate transcript to NACES for evaluation?  

Yes, please submit an official copy of your graduate transcript to NACES for evaluation.  

One of my undergraduate or graduate transcripts must be evaluated by NACES as the course of study was not in English. Which evaluation should I purchase?

Please select a course-by-course evaluation.  

How much time should I allow for an NACES course-by-course evaluation?

Please allow for a minimum of 3 months.  

I went to multiple colleges and universities as part of my undergraduate or graduate degrees. Do I need to submit an official transcript and/or an NACES course-by-course evaluation from each institution?


I studied abroad/participated in an exchange program as part of my undergraduate or graduate course of study.  Do I need to submit an official transcript from the study abroad or exchange institution?

If the courses, grades, and credit hours appear on your official undergraduate or graduate transcripts, you do not need to submit a transcript from the study abroad or exchange institution. However, programs reserve the right to require applicants to have official transcripts sent from issuing institutions or a course-by-course evaluation sent in lieu of transcripts for courses of study taught outside the United States. If courses, grades, and credit hours do not appear on your undergraduate or graduate transcript, then you must have official transcripts sent from issuing institutions or a course-by-course evaluation sent in lieu of transcripts for courses of study taught outside the United States.

I completed the first few years of my undergraduate career at an institution outside of the United States and then transferred to an institution in the U.S., where I completed/will be completing my degree.  Am I required to submit a course-by-course transcript for the coursework from the non-U.S. institution?

Yes, all applicants who completed undergraduate degrees (and graduate degrees, if applicable) outside of the United States are required to submit a course-by-course evaluation in lieu of transcripts.  These course-by-course evaluations are available from any of the organizations in

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation are required?

Most programs require 3 letters of recommendation. The following programs only require 2:

  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management (Ed.D.)
  • Med Ed (Medical Educators Program) (Medical Educator Certification)
  • Penn CLO Executive Doctoral Program Ed.D.
  • Reading/Writing/Literacy (Reading Specialist Certification) M.S.Ed. or cert. only
  • School Leadership M.S.Ed. or principal cert. only

Whom should I ask to submit a recommendation on my behalf?

Applicants should request letters of recommendation from people who can speak to their overall ability to study and practice in the field of education. Be sure to carefully read the "Agreement of Confidentiality" in the applicant's section of the form. If you are willing to relinquish your right of access to these recommendations, please make certain you indicate this, since the response of the recommender may be affected by whether or not you relinquish your right of access.


Do I have to take the GRE?

Yes, with the exception of the following programs:

  • Education Entrepreneurship, M.S.Ed.
  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management, Ed.D.
  • Executive Program in School & Mental Health Counseling, M.S.Ed.
  • Educational Leadership, Mid-Career Doctorate in
  • Independent School Teaching Residency, M.S.Ed.
  • Penn CLO Executive Doctoral Program
  • Reading/Writing/Literacy (Reading Specialist Certification), M.S.Ed.
  • School Leadership, M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Residency Program, M.S.Ed.

What is Penn GSE’s institutional code that I should use to report my GRE and TOEFL scores?


What is the minimum score that I must obtain to get admission?

There is no minimum score that an applicant has to obtain. Our highly selective admission process is holistic. Applicants are evaluated on all components of their application materials including: type of undergraduate and/or graduate institution(s); rigor of and performance in undergraduate and/or graduate program(s); fit for program; content, quality, usage and mechanics of writing; testing; recommendations; and professional, civic, and academic activities.

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What is rolling admission?

Rolling admission means that completed applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis, not after a set deadline. We accept applications until the class reaches capacity. Due to the nature of rolling admission, we can't predict when that will happen. In the past, it has usually happened in mid- to late spring. Once a program is fully enrolled, we will post a notice of capacity.

May I take courses as a non-degree seeking student?

Yes. To apply for general admission, applicants must complete an online application and submit official transcripts indicating an undergraduate degree has been conferred. Please note you may only take up to two courses and those two courses are not guaranteed to be counted toward a degree program.  

Can I defer admission?

Yes. Deferring your admission will require approval from your program manager. If approved to defer, you must complete your online enrollment form (a link can be found in your acceptance letter), submit the $250 enrollment deposit, send us a completed deferral form (sent by the program manager), and a $250 deferral deposit check. You can be deferred up to one year. Ph.D. students are not eligible for deferral.

Who should apply for general admission?

General admission is designed for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents wishing to enroll in one or two courses at the Penn Graduate School of Education to further their career development or to explore a new field of interest.

Are general admission applicants eligible for financial aid?


How do Penn undergraduates submatriculate?

Penn undergraduates who want to submatriculate into a master's degree program must:

  • Submit written approval from their undergraduate advisor
  • Meet with a Penn GSE academic advisor in the program to which they are applying
  • File all application materials required by their master’s program at Penn GSE by the stated program deadlines

Can undergraduates from other institutions submatriculate?

Bryn Mawr and Haverford undergraduates who want to submatriculate into the Teacher Education program must:

  • Submit written approval from their undergraduate advisor
  • Meet with a Penn GSE academic advisor in the program to which they are applying
  • File all application materials required by their master’s program at Penn GSE by the stated program deadlines

Where do your students come from?

Applicants hail from 73 countries and 47 states.

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Financial Aid

Click here to download the financial aid checklist.

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

What is the FAFSA?

It is a required application for US Citizens and/or Permanent Residents who are interested in participating in Federal Loan Programs.

How do I file an FAFSA?

Students can file an FAFSA online at If a student filed taxes in the previous year, he or she will need his or her tax return information. Parents’ information is NOT needed. The University of Pennsylvania institutional code is 003378.

Which FAFSA do I file? 

File the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year to be eligible to borrow loans in Summer, Fall, and Spring.
If you are going to be taking classes in the following Summer, you will need to file a new FAFSA once you do your tax returns for the current year.

With whom does the University share my billing and academic information?


The University strives to ensure the privacy of each student. To fully comply with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), we would like to remind you to update the "share academic/financial" privacy settings via the Penn Portal. You can designate with whom we can share financial aid or academic information.


Examples of people you may want to authorize us to speak with about your account are spouses, parents, employers, or anyone else involved in funding your education. Without prior authorization, we are limited in what we can discuss with anyone other than you, and this may limit our ability to fully assist you.


If you have difficulty updating these settings online, feel free to return the attached form to Student Financial Services. You can read more about the University’s privacy policy here.

Financial Aid Award Letter

I am waiting to receive my letter from Student Financial Services. When will I receive it? 

If you have not received a packet by early May and you have officially accepted your offer of admissions to GSE, you should confirm your mailing address in the Student Record System by using Penn InTouch.

If your address is correct and you have not received your packet (after officially accepting your offer of admission and filing your FAFSA), please contact the GSE Financial Aid Office at

If the letter I received from SFS lists “Alternative Loan” in my package, what does that mean? 

An alternative loan is a way for students to cover any portion of tuition, fees, and living expenses that are not paid for by other forms of aid.

Students can choose to borrow a private or federal alternative loan. Private alternative loans are not subsidized and generally have tiered interest rates and fees, both based on your credit score.

A GradPLUS loan is a federal form of an alternative loan. We encourage students to utilize federal loans because they qualify for federal repayment and loan forgiveness programs. Please be aware that you must agree to and pass a basic credit check in order to borrow a GradPLUS loan. You can apply for a GradPLUS loan through the Penn Loan System.

Applying for Loans

Student Financial Services (SFS) has opened access to the Penn Loan System, which will allow you to apply for federal student loans. Contact SFS to speak with an Assistant Director for more detailed information regarding your loans.

How does SFS determine my financial aid eligibility?

SFS bases the financial aid notice on information in your FAFSA and assumes a course load of four course units (CUs) in both the fall and spring. The aid notice does not reflect eligibility for summer sessions.

How much do I need to borrow to cover tuition and fees?

You should borrow enough to cover whatever portion of the tuition and fees are not covered by assistantships, scholarships, or personal savings. Any amount you borrow in excess of your charges will be refunded to you.

How much do I need to borrow to cover living expenses?

The University also allows you to borrow up to $27,310 to cover living expenses during the academic year (fall and spring) and up to $4,440 per summer session.

What loans are available?

Your financial aid notice indicates the loans you are eligible for, including the Perkins, Direct, and Direct GradPLUS and/or private loans. The financial aid notice is posted to PennInTouch and is not emailed. If you have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but do not see a financial aid notice when you log into PennInTouch, contact SFS and ask to speak with an Assistant Director.

How do I apply for loans?

The first step is to file a FAFSA. You should apply for a Direct Loan via the Penn Loan System, apply for a Direct GradPLUS loan on the federal government website, and apply for private loans directly with each lender.

How do I apply for a Direct Loan?

If you completed a FAFSA, and are eligible to receive federal loans, the loan office will automatically begin a Direct Loan on your behalf. You will receive an email from the loan office with instructions to complete the MPN and entrance counseling.

Where do I apply for Direct GradPLUS Loans?

Apply for the Direct GraduatePLUS Loan through the  Penn Loan System

Are there other loan options?

Students may borrow private/alternative loans which come directly from providers such as banks and credit unions in lieu of Direct GradPLUS Loans.

Where do I apply for private loans?

Apply for private loans via the lender’s website. SFS has listed the six lenders students most frequently use, but does not endorse any specific lender. The list of private lenders is made available for your convenience only.

Do I have to accept the entire loan amount for which I’m eligible?

No. You can always decline or reduce the loan by emailing the loan office at

What do I do after I learn of my eligibility for Direct and/or Direct GradPLUS loans?

Be sure to complete the Loan Entrance Counseling & Master Promissory Notes for both the Direct Loan and Direct GradPLUS Loan at

When will my loans be applied to my bill?

Loans are generally disbursed on the initial bill within 10-15 days after completing the MPN and entrance counseling.

It has been 10-15 business days from the time I applied for a Direct and/or Direct GradPLUS Loan, why haven’t the funds disbursed? I don’t see my loans on my initial bill, what happened?


  • First, check Penn.Pay under the tab for new activity, as the funds may have recently disbursed.
  • You must have active registration and tuition charges on your bill before a loan can be disbursed.
    • Late registration may also cause a delay in posting tuition charges to bills, in which case you will be charged on the next bill.
  • Perkins Loans are not disbursed to your student account until after the add/drop period.
  • You must complete the Loan Entrance Counseling & Master Promissory Notes for both the Direct Loan and Direct GradPLUS Loan.  


Why is my bill different from my financial aid notice?

Your aid notice reflects your loan eligibility, while the bill will reflect the charges based on your actual registration given that you may be enrolled for more or fewer than 4 CUs. 

What do I need to do to receive the loans that were awarded in my financial aid letter? 

Students must complete the following steps to ensure that loan funds disburse to their student accounts.

  • Students must apply for the Direct and GradPLUS loans through the Penn Loan System. PennKey and password are required to sign-in.
  • Students must sign electronic Master Promissory Notes for both Direct and GradPLUS loans as well as complete Loan Entrance Counseling on the website. The 4 digit pin from the FAFSA application is required to sign-in.
  • If a student is awarded a Perkins loan (the only need-based loan), he or she would have a Perkins Master Promissory Note included in the mailing from Student Financial Services. Students who have been offered a Perkins Loan must sign and return the hard copy Master Promissory Note (MPN) to SFS.

My loan application in the Penn Loan System asks how many courses I will be taking. How will I know how many credit units (CUs) I’m taking? 

Program managers advise students on how many CUs they will be taking and whether the program registers the student for classes or the student should register him/herself. Please contact your program manager for this information, if you have not yet received it.

  • Special Programs
    • Teacher Education Program
          Elementary: Sum2 (3CU), Fall (5CU), Spring (3CU)
          Secondary: Sum2 (2CU), Fall (5CU), Spring (4CU)
    • School and Mental Health Counseling
           Sum2 (3CU), Fall (3CU), Spring (4CU)
    • School Leadership:
           Master’s:Fall (5CU), Spring (5CU), Sum1 (Master’s registration fee)
           Certification only: Fall (2CU), Spring (2CU), Sum1 (1CU)

When will my loans disburse? 

Loans will usually disburse to students’ accounts two weeks prior to the start of the term, if students have successfully submitted a loan application, completed loan counseling, and signed the Master Promissory Note(s) in ample time for processing.

Please note, if the amount borrowed in loans exceeds the balance on the student’s account, her or she will be issued a refund for the difference. We strongly encourage students to sign-up for Direct Deposit, so refunds can be transferred directly to their personal checking accounts.


How do I know if I received a scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship? 

There is no separate application for full-time students to be considered for scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships. These award decisions are made by our faculty and communicated at the time of the admissions decision.

If you received an award, the amount and terms would be listed in your admission letter. All award offers are final and non-negotiable. Students must sign and return offer letters to GSE’s Financial Aid Office, in order to have the funds applied to their student accounts.

Merit scholarships and assistantships for master’s students are applied evenly to a student’s account, paying half of the award in the fall semester and half in the spring.  If a student matriculates in the Spring semester the award will disburse half in the Spring and half in the Fall.

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

Can I receive my scholarship in the Summer or have the entire amount applied in the same semester?

No, merit scholarships and graduate assistantships are applied to a student’s account evenly across Fall & Spring semesters.

Why does my financial aid award letter from SFS not show my GSE Scholarship? 

If scholarship agreements are not received and processed by the GSE financial aid office prior to the date that SFS generates financial aid packages then the award will be omitted from the letter.

Student Financial Services will send out a revised letter once the award has posted to a student’s account. Students with questions regarding the posting of their awards can contact GSE’s Financial Aid Office.

How does my scholarship award affect my loan eligibility?

Scholarship and assistantship awards reduce the amount in loans that a student can borrow.

I am a Ph.D. student. When will I receive my fellowship and stipend?

View the Ph.D. funding Overview.


When will I be billed?

Billing is driven by registration, meaning students will not be billed for courses until they are registered for classes. Click here to view the current billing schedule.

Refunds for Living Expenses

We strongly encourage all students to sign up for Direct Deposit through Penn inTouch!

Direct deposit links a personal checking account with a student’s Penn account. When a loan disburses to a student’s Penn account, SFS will pay off the balance due on the account and any remaining funds will be issued as a refund to the student.

If a student does not sign-up for direct deposit, his or her refund will be issued on an Aline Card.

How do I access my refund?

View more information about refunds and advances

Other ways to help pay for my GSE education?

Work Study

How can I qualify to participate in work study?

Any US citizen or permanent resident who successfully completes a FAFSA is eligible to participate in federal work study. GSE will receive a pool of funds that are distributed to students on a first-come, first-served basis.

What do I need to do to receive a work study award?

Students must look on the Student Employment Website for work-study only positions.   Once they are in contact with a supervisor who is interested in hiring them, students must contact the GSE Financial Aid office so that the awards can be posted to their student accounts, if available.

How much can I receive in work study?

Students earn an hourly wage until they have earned the total amount of the award. The total amount available varies; last year the average amount awarded was $3,500.

Graduate Associate position in a College House

Is there an opportunity to live and work on campus in a residence hall?

Yes, GSE students can apply to be Graduate Associates in a Penn College House (residence hall for undergraduate students). The responsibilities are similar to an undergraduate resident advisor. Students can learn more and apply on the College Houses and Academic Services website.  Graduate Associates receive free housing accommodations and a meal plan.

Where can I go for additional Help?

View a list of Financial Aid contacts.

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International Students FAQ

Congratulations on your admission! Now that you are admitted, you may have questions about how to finance a Penn education. We understand that international students have unique questions pertaining to financial aid. We are committed to helping you understand your options so that your transition to Penn GSE is as smooth as possible. If you have further questions, GSE has dedicated financial aid professionals ready to assist you.

Can I ask for more grant funding?

The financial assistance indicated on your award notice is final and should be used to compare offers from other schools and to determine your personal budget. Please note: GSE awards grants and graduate assistantships based on merit as determined by the strength of your application. Our awards are not based on financial need. For general financial aid questions, please contact the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid.

Does grant funding extend into the second year of my program?

Per your award agreement, offers of grant funding or graduate assistantships are guaranteed for the academic year listed. There is no guarantee of funding for additional years.

I was not awarded a grant. What other kinds of assistance are available to me?

Aside from Penn GSE merit scholarships, most international students will finance the remainder of their degree through a combination of personal finances, employee benefits, and outside scholarships. Many of our students apply for a Graduate Associate position in the College Houses, which pays for your housing and a meal plan. You can also apply for non-work-study positions on-campus through the Student Employment Office.

Can I borrow a loan from a US institution to cover my expenses?

International students may consider applying for Alternative Loans, keeping in mind that most will require a U.S. co-signer with at least 3 years of positive credit. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal student loans.

Why is the estimated cost of attendance different on your website than on the I-20?

The immigration office requires this office to report approximate costs for our programs before we officially finalize them for the year, and it is not always possible to reflect the flexibility of our courses of study. In some cases, the numbers may not align with a student's actual enrollment. You can find the actual cost of attendance here.

How do I apply for a Graduate Assistantship (GA)? 

Programs that offer GA opportunities will extend an offer to apply for a GA in eligible applicants' admission letter in the admissions portal. GAs have the potential to earn up to $3,500 per year performing academically relevant coursework. Interested students should contact their program directly for more information on how to apply. 

Can I work off-campus?

International students studying on F-1 visas are allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week (total, across all on-campus positions in non-work-study positions), but must remain in good academic standing. F-1 students may not work off-campus unless they are approved for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. Students on J-1 visas need to check with their sponsors about eligibility for on-campus or off-campus employment.

Can I live off-campus?

Yes! Students choose to live off-campus for many reasons including personal preferences and affordability. At Penn, “off-campus” means the University does not own the residence. Geographically, though, many off-campus buildings are very close to the actual campus. Penn’s Off-Campus Services Department has a great search option to help you find affordable, safe, off-campus housing. Off-campus rental costs in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia typically range from $750-$1500 per month depending on size and other factors. We also encourage you to become familiar with your rights as a tenant.

When will I receive my acceptance deposit back?

Your deposit will be credited towards the tuition on your first bill; it will not be returned as a refund. If you do not see the admission deposit on your billing statement, please contact GSE.

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Financial Aid Timeline

We have provided a financial aid timeline to assist you in your financial planning.  

Click here to view the timeline


  • Admissions applications are available for upcoming academic year.


  • Admissions decisions go out for master’s applicants four weeks after applications are completed.
    • Notification of any merit and/or graduate assistantship awards are included in the decision letters.
    • Awards are determined by faculty during the admissions application review, decisions are final and non-negotiable.


  • FAFSA – available January 1st for the next academic year (summer, fall, and spring).


  • Accepted Students web page is available with estimated tuition and fees for the next academic year.
    • Provides detailed instructions on the Penn loan process.
    • Contains estimated student budget.

Late April – Early May

  • Financial Aid Packets mailed from Student Financial Services (SFS).
    • Will include Perkins loan if given, as well as general loan information.
    • Student Loan office will begin to certify summer loan applications.


  • First billing statements generated for students who are currently registered for the fall semester.
  • Billing will run monthly from this point on for the academic year.


  • Tuition deposits will be posted to student accounts for credit on fall semester bill.
  • Scholarships will be posted to student accounts to disburse evenly for academic year.
  • Fall bill is due for students who received bills in June.
  • If student has submitted all necessary forms, GA awards will be posted to student account.
    • Students who have not submitted all of the required paper work will receive a temporary credit on their student bill.


  • Work-Study Awards
    • Students interested in receiving work-study awards should begin to apply for positions through the office of Student Employment.
    • Students should contact GSE’s Financial Aid office to receive an award.
    • Awards are given on a first-come, first-served basis based on available funding.


  • Temporary credits will come off of student accounts.
    • All loan and assistantship paperwork must be completed and submitted at this time.

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