How Aid is Determined

Financial aid at the University of Pennsylvania is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need, which is the difference between the costs of Penn and the amount your family is expected to pay (your expected family contribution, or EFC). Penn meets 100 percent of this demonstrated need for all admitted students.

Penn’s Office of Student Financial Services determines the family contribution by carefully reviewing each family’s financial aid application, along with parent and student tax returns. The following items are also considered: 

  • family size
  • student income and assets
  • parents’ income and assets (including home equity but not retirement accounts)
  • number of children enrolled in college
  • extenuating family circumstances (such as illness or loss of employment)

Generally, financial information from both parents is used to determine financial need, even if they are divorced or separated.

Once the family’s financial contribution has been determined, Penn awards an aid package—a pledge of financial support from Penn that typically consists of grants and a Work-Study job.  Unlike most other universities, there are no loans in a Penn aid package.

Because each family’s situation is unique, it is difficult to predict how much aid you will receive until we have taken a close look at your aid application. These case studies provide a general sense of how aid packages work for families with varying financial circumstances.


Comparison of Financial Aid Packages

Because Penn dedicates considerably more resources to aid than most schools, the current and future cost of attending Penn is likely to be less than the cost of attending a flagship public university, even though Penn’s costs are higher. Note that in the example below, the expected family contribution, or net price, is the same at both schools, but at Public U, the student aid package includes a loan—making the cost of attendance higher than the cost of attending Penn, where students are not asked to take out loans.