At the meeting of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania on March 2, President Liz Magill announced a new expansion to the University’s undergraduate financial aid program and the Penn First Plus initiative for the 2023-2024 academic year. Students whose families make $75,000 or less, with typical assets, will now receive financial aid packages that fully cover tuition, fees, housing, and dining with grants and work-study funds.
Prior to this announcement, the income limit for this type of financial aid package was $65,500. This new policy will make these benefits available to more than 1,200 eligible students. In addition, students who meet the new income threshold will also have their summer savings expectation waived for all four years and will have a maximum parent contribution of no more than $2,000, both of which result in additional grant funding in each student’s financial aid package.
These students will also have access to all supplemental financial benefits made available by Penn First Plus and Student Financial Aid, including:
- Summer internship and research opportunity funding
- Grant funding to cover the cost of Penn’s health insurance plan
- A free laptop computer for incoming first-year students
- Stipends to cover the cost of food during Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks while dining halls are closed
- Free academic regalia as seniors
- Grant funding to cover tuition for summer courses
“This expansion of Penn’s undergraduate financial aid program will make the path to Penn possible for hundreds of additional students each year,” said Penn President Liz Magill. “As student and family need increases, so do our efforts to not only meet that need, but to deliver resources and opportunities that amplify the Penn experience.”
For undergraduate students who do pay tuition, the Trustees approved an increase of 4.0% in total billed charges for the 2023-2024 academic year, including $58,620 for tuition, $7,484 for fees, $12,166 for housing, and $6,330 for dining. This increase helps to offset the impact of high levels of inflation, especially for compensation, and is accompanied by an approved undergraduate financial aid budget of $286 million, a 12% increase from 2022-2023 projected financial aid spending. For students who receive financial aid, the increase to the financial aid budget covers these increased costs as long as their financial situations remain the same.
“Penn provides grant aid to more undergraduate students than any other college or university in the country with a grant-based financial aid policy,” said Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Mark Dingfield. “Given the large number of students who benefit from the program, these enhancements to Penn’s financial aid program represent a significant budgetary commitment. This would not be possible without the generosity of alumni and a shared commitment by Penn’s leadership to make this is an ongoing priority.”
Penn’s undergraduate financial aid program meets 100% of demonstrated need with grant funds and work-study, supporting its philosophy that a Penn education should be attainable for talented students from all financial backgrounds. It is the largest grant-based financial aid program in the country, with 44.4% of Penn’s undergraduate students receiving grant-based financial aid packages at an average of $61,961 in funding—more than the cost of tuition. The average package covers 73% of a student’s total cost of attendance, which includes billed expenses like tuition, fees, housing, and dining, and unbilled expenses like books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. In 2008, when Penn’s grant-based aid program was first launched, the average package covered 57% of the total cost of attendance.
The University also continues its commitment to provide meaningful financial aid to middle-income families with its policy to cover at least the cost of tuition for students from families who make $140,000 or less with typical assets. These students are also eligible to receive funds for summer internships and research opportunities through partnerships between Student Financial Aid, Career Services, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship, Penn Global, and more.
A combination of measured annual cost increases, meaningful philanthropy from alumni and friends of the University, and generous financial aid continues to make it possible for students to graduate from Penn with no educational debt. Only 19% of need-based financial aid recipients borrowed loans in 2022-2023, compared to 76% in 2007-2008.
The University’s student resources extend well beyond financial aid. Financial Wellness @ Penn, a financial literacy program, aims to enhance students’ financial well-being by providing personal finance education, tools, and resources. The program’s mission is to help students feel empowered to set financial goals, make informed financial decisions, and improve their financial behaviors.