Penn State is a public university that receives some funding from the government and from taxpayers. There is, at this time, essentially no financial aid available for international undergraduate students.  U.S. Citizenship or legal permanent residency is a requirement for federal funds; Pennsylvania residency is a further requirement for state funds.

Financial Guarantee Requirements

The U.S. government requires schools to determine that individuals can meet expenses without resorting to unlawful employment or public funds.

To be issued an I-20 / DS-2019, you must:

  1. Be admitted into a full-time program
  2. Provide proof of funds for the first year to receive an I-20 or provide proof of funds for all years of the program for a DS-2019
  3. Provide documentation for how your educational expenses will be supported in all succeeding years at Penn State (see certification of financial support below)

For estimated annual financial guarantee amounts, refer to the appropriate campus location link or the PDF charts below.  Both display the same information.

Campus Locations
University Park Altoona Abington
Hershey Berks Beaver
Penn State Law Erie Brandywine
Dickinson Law Harrisburg DuBois
Great Valley Greater Allegheny Hazleton
Fayette Mont Alto New Kensington
Lehigh Valley Shenango Wilkes-Barre
Schulykill Worthington Scranton York

Links to PDF charts of financial guarantee information:

University Park, Great Valley Graduate Center, and Hershey Medical School

Smeal College of Business - Residential Programs at University Park

Penn State Law and Penn State Dickinson Law

Altoona, Berks, Erie, and Harrisburg

Abington, Beaver, Brandywine, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Shenango, Wilkes-Barre, Worthington Scranton, York, or Commonwealth College

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is acceptable as a financial guarantee?

Financial guarantee materials must be current - not more than 6 months old, and show at least the estimated annual expense amount. The financial guarantee could be made up of documentation from various sources as listed below, but should be as concise as possible since they are being presented as active indications of commitment to provide for upcoming first year expenses for the student.

A financial guarantee is typically 2 documents: proof of funds and a certification of financial support.  

Financial Guarantee materials can be:

  • Bank Statements or bank letters in your name or your sponsors name in English accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter
  • Provident fund accounts in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter
  • Certificates of Deposits in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter
  • Stocks, bonds, or other equities accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter. (the statement of value must be no more than one week old and we accept only 70% of the total amount)
  • Salary letter from the sponsor's employer indicating the annual income and length of employment accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter (the annual salary must be adequate to support both the student and sponsor expenses)
  • Loan Sanction letters indicating loan approval accompanied by a signed, dated certification of financial support letter
  • Terms of Offer of a graduate assistantship or fellowship and the assistantship or fellowship award letter
  • A sponsorship letter from a corporation or larger business accompanied by a letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment signed by an officer of the organization and accompanied by a copy of the organization's annual report or appropriate support information from the organization's annual report
  • A bank statement for a family owned business accompanied by a bank signatory letter detailing the relationship to the business and a signed, dated certification of financial support letter
  • A sponsorship letter from a government entity, international organization, or other major sponsor detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the specific amounts of their sponsorship commitment

Financial Guarantee materials cannot be:

  • Real property (land, buildings)
  • Personal property (jewelry, vehicles)
  • Chartered Accountant Statements or other third party evaluations of funds
  • Income tax documents
  • Monthly pay slips or pay stubs

2. Do you have sample language for a Certification of Financial Support or Letter of Support?

Please note:  In the case of sponsorship by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident financial guarantee materials above must be accompanied by form I-134 Affidavit of Support. This is a USCIS Form.  Instructions are available at this link.

Sponsors must clearly state the length and duration of the sponsorship.

The commitment should use specific rather than general language. For example, a support letter written by a parent which states "I will cover all of my son's expenses for five years" is too general, but one which says "I will provide my daughter $ XXX per year for each of four years to cover her school related expenses" is much more useful and clearly details the exact nature of the sponsorship.

In the case of graduate students, we cannot use the possibility of a future graduate assistantship as funding for the I-20 or DS-2019. Therefore, it's important to provide a financial guarantee for the first year as well as information on how future years will be funded.

Here is a sample for preferred language for the Certification of Financial Support:

This is to certify that I, (name of sponsor), will financially support (name of student), in the relationship of (mother, father, sister, brother, friend-please identify) while he/she is enrolled at the Pennsylvania State University.  I verify the amount of _____US Dollars is available for each year to the student listed above while he/she studies at the Pennsylvania State University.  I understand these expenses may include tuition, fees, living expenses, books/supplies, medical insurance expenses and dependent (F-2 or J-2) expenses as applicable.  Signature & Date

Word Document Version of Certification of Financial Support Form

PDF Version of Certification of Financial Support Form

3. Why are ISSA financial guarantee requirements higher than those I find cited in other places on the Penn State website?

Most offices at Penn State build their estimates from a single set of figures provided by the Office of Student Aid. The reason the estimates differ between offices often has to do with the type and purpose of the estimates. The ISSA figures take into account that international students will pay out-of-state tuition and will be in the U.S. for 12 months. In addition, health insurance is mandatory for international students since most students who are U.S. citizens have other sources to cover health care costs.