The mark of a great university is its ability to attract and recognize students with a passion for excellence and with demonstrated superior motivation and intellectual curiosity. These are the students who contribute to Penn State's reputation as a top research institution and public university.
In support of our strong commitment to individual excellence, Penn State continues to build its resources to offer competitive scholarship opportunities for students who excel. This document provides information about Penn State scholarships by addressing most commonly asked questions. We hope that you find the information helpful.
How do I apply for scholarships?
How are scholarships awarded?
Do I have to show financial need to qualify for scholarships?
Does Penn State have an Honors Program?
Does Penn State offer a Scholarship Search Service?
Who awards Penn State's scholarships?
What else do I need to know?
All first-year and upper-division students automatically are considered for general university-wide scholarships (scholarships available to all students without regard to campus or college). Decisions are based on the performance information collected from admissions applications or current Penn State academic records. Most scholarships are awarded to upper-division students after an academic record is established at Penn State. First-year students will find scholarship opportunities limited and very competitive.
Scholarships restricted to students enrolled at specific Penn State campuses or in specific colleges may require independent applications to be filed. Refer to Campus Scholarships or College/Departmental Scholarships for more information about specific scholarship opportunities and application requirements.
Approximately 50% of academic scholarships have, in addition to merit, a secondary criterion of financial need. To be considered for scholarships that require financial need, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Although completion of the FAFSA is not required for merit-only academic scholarships, we recommend that all students complete this application so they may be considered for all need-based federal, state and institutional student aid.
First-year students should complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1 but not later than February 15 for maximum consideration. All returning and transfer students are encouraged to file the FAFSA as soon as possible after completing federal tax returns, but prior to May 1.
Scholarship awarding begins in early spring. Generally, only students selected to receive a scholarship are notified of their awards between March and June. Scholarship award notifications are mailed by the academic or administrative area making the awards. These notifications are independent from federal and state aid award notifications.
In most cases scholarships are awarded for two semesters (fall and spring) and typically require full-time enrollment (minimum of 12 credits per semester). Some scholarships may be renewable.
For students receiving federal and state student aid, regulations require that scholarships be counted as financial resources when determining a student aid package. Scholarships you receive will not change overall student aid eligibility but may impact the resources making up a student aid package (e.g., loans and work-study may be reduced).
If you have additional questions about Penn State scholarships, contact the Office of Student Aid at 314 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802-1220, tel: 814-865-6301, or contact the Student Aid Representative at other Penn State campuses.
A TDD line, 814-863-0585, is available for those with a hearing disability.
Approximately 50% of our academic scholarships have, in addition to merit, a secondary criterion of financial need. To qualify for academic scholarships that require financial need, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Complete the application as soon after January 1 as possible (before fall semester enrollment). Completion of the FAFSA is not required for merit-only academic scholarships.
The FAFSA also provides consideration for need-based federal, state and institutional student aid.
The Schreyer Honors College, Penn State's undergraduate honors program, offers a merit-based Academic Excellence Scholarship with awards ranging between $2,000 and $3,000. The scholarship is awarded to approximately 300 first-year students who are selected for entry into The Schreyer Honors College. The scholarship is available for eight semesters, providing the student continues to meet college requirements. This highly selective honors program requires excellent SAT scores and high school performance.
Students may be considered for entry into The Schreyer Honors College after their first-year; however, scholarships are not available. Consideration for entry into the college requires superior academic achievement.
To inquire about The Schreyer Honors College or to request an application, write to the college office at 214 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802-2801.
Links to national scholarship search services are available through Penn State's Office of Student Aid home page (www.psu.edu/studentaid); once there, select Scholarship Resources. The services are free of charge to prospective and continuing students.
The Office of Student Aid is the central administrative processing unit for student assistance for the University. The office is responsible for university-wide scholarship funds having no specific campus or college designation. Awards to both first-year and upper-division students are made by the Scholarship Committee, which typically begins its review in March (prior to fall semester enrollment).
Over 80 awards are offered annually to students with disabilities at all Penn State campuses. To apply, contact the Office for Disability Services, 105 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802, (814) 863-1807 (voice or TTY).
Faculty Senate funding is limited and reserved for upper-division students. All students automatically are considered for the awards. The scholarships are extremely competitive and awarded only to the highest-achieving students.
- College of Agricultural Sciences
- Over $900,000 in scholarships is awarded annually to approximately 500 students. Special awards are made to first-year students who are accepted into The Schreyer Honors College. A college scholarship information booklet and application are mailed in early January to all students currently enrolled in or offered admission to the College of Agricultural Sciences. Students must complete and return the application to be eligible for scholarship consideration. An application typically must be submitted by April 15.
- College of Arts and Architecture
- Most scholarships offered by the college are established for upper-division students. However, a limited number of scholarships also are offered to first-year students. Students may check with their department head or director of the academic major for specific information or application procedures.
- The Smeal College of Business Administration
- The college's general scholarships are awarded to upper-division students only. Over 150 awards are made annually with values averaging $1,000. Two first-year students admitted to the college and accepted into The Schreyer Honors College are selected to receive a $2,500 Dean's Academic Achievement Award from the college.
- College of Communications
- Approximately 35 scholarships totaling more than $80,000 are awarded annually. The majority of the scholarships are open to upper-division students; however, there are three scholarships designated for first-year students. All students who wish to be considered for a scholarship must complete an application, which is available directly from the college.
- College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
- Approximately 60 Dean's Freshman Scholarships are awarded each year. These awards are competitive and range in value from $500 to $2,500. All students who apply for admission into the college automatically are considered for scholarships. Upper-division students are required to submit a college scholarship application annually for scholarship consideration. An application is available from the college and typically must be submitted by the beginning of April.
- College of Education
- A majority of the scholarships in the college are designated for upper-division students who formally have been admitted to a specific major. However, special awards are made to first-year students admitted to the college and accepted into The Schreyer Honors College. Scholarship award amounts average $1,000. For scholarships requiring enrollment in specific majors and/or other criteria, students should contact their academic departments.
- College of Engineering
- Students admitted to the college and accepted into The Schreyer Honors College are eligible for consideration for one of the 20-25 Penn State Engineering Society matching scholarships of up to $2,500 a year. Endowed and privately funded scholarships in the $1,000 to $5,000 range also are available and are awarded based on merit and financial need to first-year and upper-division students. Most scholarships are renewable based on satisfactory academic performance. No application is required for scholarship consideration except for the Leonhard Honors Program.
- College of Health and Human Development
- Each year, first-year students admitted to the college and accepted into The Schreyer Honors College are considered for a scholarship. The amount of the awards may vary depending on the number of scholars and available funds. Upper-division students automatically are considered for scholarships for which they are eligible. No application is required for consideration.
- College of the Liberal Arts
- The college provides two kinds of undergraduate scholarships and awards college and departmental. The College awards typically range from $500 to $1,500 and may be renewed. Students should check with their department for available departmental awards. Eligibility criteria for scholarships and awards may include financial need, academic excellence, contributions to diversity, and service to the community. All interested students must submit a brief essay, resume, and an application. Applications may be obtained in 139 Sparks Building or on the Liberal Arts Web Page at http://www.la.psu.edu/laus/scholar/app.htm. Applications typically are due the beginning of March.
- Eberly College of Science
- A limited number of outstanding first-year students admitted into the college and into The Schreyer Honors College may qualify for a renewable four-year scholarship that, combined with other University scholarships, covers in-state or out-of-state tuition, room and board. No special application is necessary for consideration. Only those who apply for admission before November 30 can be considered. Upper-division students automatically are considered for scholarships based on their declared majors.
Over $120,000 in academic scholarships are awarded to students enrolled at the Fayette campus. Merit-based scholarships are available to first-year students. Most upper-division awards require a combination of academic achievement and financial need. Scholarships generally range from $200 to $1,750. All first-year and upper-division students are automatically considered for general university-wide scholarships (without regard to campus or college).
Prospective Penn State students interested in scholarship opportunities should inquire with the appropriate college, campus or office for details. Typically, awarding of Penn State scholarships occurs in the spring (prior to fall semester enrollment). Scholarships are, in most cases, awarded for two semesters (fall and spring) and require full-time enrollment (minimum 12 credits); exceptions sometimes are permitted. In some instances, scholarships for the summer sessions are available. Some scholarships may be renewable; typically eight semesters of eligibility are available.
Athletic scholarships or grants are not covered here. Contact the Athletic Office or individual team coach for more information about qualifications.
Finally, we recognize that organizations outside the University (high schools, community groups, and religious affiliations) offer scholarships. You may wish to contact these and other local sources for information about scholarship opportunities.
If you have additional questions about Penn State scholarships, contact the Office of Student Aid at 314 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802-1220, tel: 814-865-6301, or contact the Student Aid Representative at other Penn State locations.
A TDD line, 814-863-0585, is available for those with a hearing disability.