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Penn State Tuition & Financial Aid

So, you’re thinking about applying to Penn State University; besides thinking about the admissions process and where you’ll live, you also need to think about how much attending school will cost and how to pay for it. To make things easier, we’re here to help you now with some numbers to consider.

Over the course of this post, let’s discuss:

  • How much does it cost to attend Penn State
  • How much financial aid do students typically receive?
  • How much debt are you potentially looking at after graduation?

If you need help paying for tuition, don’t forget that a high standardized test score can help secure any number of available scholarships and grants. To help you get the highest possible score, check out our available SAT prep and ACT prep courses. Let’s look at those costs in-depth now.

cost of attendance

Penn State Cost Of Attendance

At $51,572, Penn State’s cost of attendance is astronomical for most students.

However, there’s a very good reason why this price tag is so big. In case you didn’t know already, a school’s Cost of Attendance is the total amount of money a student is required to pay the school without any financial aid assistance at all.

Think of it as the total bill you are responsible for paying every year – tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks, miscellaneous expenses, etc. The first, and most important, numbers you need to know then are just how much money going to Penn State is going to cost you.

cost of attendance breakdown

Penn State Tuition & Attendance Cost Breakdown

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers for both in-state and out-of-state residents:

In-State Costs:

  • Tuition – $18,436
  • Books and Supplies – $1,840
  • Room and Board – $11,280
  • Other Expenses – $4,788

Out-of-State Costs:

  • Tuition – $33,664
  • Books and Supplies – $1,840
  • Room and Board – $11,280
  • Other Expenses – $4,788

In general, if you can establish in-state residency, you will almost always catch a break on tuition fees. The reason being that out of state residents pay more is because in-state residents have part of their tuition covered by that state’s tax revenue. If you are not a resident, then you do not receive the lower tuition rates since you are not paying into the state’s tax base.


financial aid

Don’t Worry, There’s ALWAYS Financial Aid

Don’t panic though! Many of those students receive some level of financial aid going in.

Your dream school’s Cost of Attendance may be high, but don’t worry about it too badly; every school has financial aid opportunities available for students to take advantage of, in a variety of ways. As a result, most students that you will meet at school will not be paying the full Cost of Attendance themselves. Why? Because financial aid picks up the slack between what they owe and what their families can actually pay per semester.

The average award for students at Penn State is $11,498.

  • Financial Need Applicants – 23,999 applicants
    • Financial Aid Need Approval – 18,369 applicants
    • Financial Aid Received – 17,685 applicants
  • Average Award Amount – $11,498
    • Need-based Gift – $7,685 on average
    • Merit-based Gift – $3,933 on average

Usually, financial aid will come to you in one, or more, of the following ways:

  • Student Loans – loans specifically designed for prospective students to pay for their post-secondary education costs and fees, such as tuition, textbooks, living expenses, etc. Most often, student loans are available through federal financial aid programs.
  • Merit-based Scholarships – scholarships awarded to students normally based on specific abilities, such as academic, artistic, or athletic, as well as other factors such as extracurricular activities and community service achievements.
  • Need-based Grants – similar to scholarships, grants are money that is given to students that are not required to be paid back; both schools and the government normally issue grants based on specific criteria such as economic need, academic achievements, ability to pay, and student status.

college debt

Penn State Debt To Consider

If you use financial aid, you’re bound to accumulate some debt after graduation.

The average amount of debt from student loans for a Penn State graduate is $37,213.

Remember too that it’s possible to earn income on campus while studying, as a means to cover your costs while attending. Most schools have work-study programs that allow you to make money working for the campus while pursuing your studies.

At Penn State, the average amount of money made from on-campus work is $3,144.


Understand that financial aid packages used by students are a combination of all these different payment methods; in general, the more scholarship and grant money you can get will make life easier after graduation. If you need to rely more on student loans though, it’s ok. Remember though that as soon as you graduate and enter the workforce, you are then responsible for paying off the loan and accumulated interest.

prep expert help


Getting into Penn State is not going to be cheap. It is a competitive school and it probably won’t be easy to get in. But don’t despair over those facts. If you have earned a high GPA and great test scores, then you have a chance of getting in. If not, then you’re very likely to get into a comparatively good and competitive institution.

Always remember though that where you go to school ultimately is NOT who you are or will be. If you continue to work hard and focus, then you will undoubtedly end up in a school that’s the right fit for you.

If you need help though on improving your scholarship or financial aid prospects, by perhaps boosting your GPA or standardized test scores before it’s time to start turning in admissions and financial aid applications, then you should seriously consider signing up for a Prep Expert SAT or ACT course.

Right now, we offer live online, self-paced video, and a number of in-person classes for students to attend throughout the year. Our expert teachers and tutors will not only share with you tried and true methods for improving your score, but also help you correct deficiencies in any subject that you’re having difficulty with—English, Writing, Mathematics or Science.

Moreover, if you need assistance on other similar tests such as SAT Subject or Advanced Placement exams, we have tutoring packages available catering to those subjects too. Whether you excel on learning in a class setting or require one on one guidance on courses that are just hard to crack, we have the staff available to help when needed.

Additionally, online classes can be watched On Demand, so if you miss a class due to your busy schedule, you can catch it online later. We have helped hundreds of students get the scores they need to attend the school of their dreams.

For more test strategy, college admissions, and scholarship application tips sign up for our FREE class happening right now!

Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
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