Q: Are there circumstances under which an outside scholarship might reduce a student’s aid or preclude them from participating in work-study? 

A: Penn’s philosophy regarding outside scholarships is that the student… has worked and earned those funds and should derive a benefit as a result. When an aided undergraduate student from Penn receives an outside scholarship, that student receives the benefit of a dollar for dollar reduction first in the summer savings, then in the work–study job. University grant will be reduced only after these work expectations are eliminated.

Keep in mind, these work expectation reductions do not preclude the student from working during the summer or academic year… As a result, students… may have additional resources to supplement the family contribution. “This is a great incentive for students to pursue these scholarships!” - Joel Carstens, University Financial Aid Director


Q: Does SFS have any stated policy regarding students whose parents refuse to contribute financially to tuition expenses?

A: Penn’s need–based aid program believes the primary responsibility in financing an education rests with the family.  That is why we consider nearly all Penn students to be dependent and require parental information as part of the aid application process.

However, we do understand there are limited situations under which students may, in fact, be supporting themselves.  The most common situations considered for independent status include when a student is an orphan or ward of the court as well as when a student is age 26 or older.


Q: What percent of students take out loans through Penn? What is the average level of debt is for graduating students?

A: About one–third of the Class of 2012 chose to borrow a federal loan at one point during their Penn career.  The average cumulative debt for these students was $19,197.


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