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:
- Be admitted into a full-time program
- Provide proof of finances for the first year to receive an I-20 or provide proof of financing for the length of the program for a DS-2019
- Provide information/documentation for how your educational expenses will be supported in all succeeding years at Penn State
For estimated annual financial guarantee amounts, refer to the appropriate campus location link or the PDF charts below. Both display the same information.
Links to PDF charts of financial guarantee information:
Students at Penn State 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 within 6 months and show an amount sufficient to cover estimated annual expenses. 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. Financial Guarantee materials can be:
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.
Financial Guarantee materials can be:
- Bank Statements of bank letters in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Provide fund accounts in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Certificates of Deposits in your name or your sponsors name accompanied by a signed dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Stocks, bonds, or other equities (with the provision that the statement of value must be no more than one week old and we accept only 70% of the total amount) accompanied by a signed letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Salary letter from the sponsor's employer indicating the annual income and length of employment
- Terms of Offer of a graduate assistantship or fellowship accompanied by a copy of the letter which was provided with the terms of offer of the assistantship or fellowship
- 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 at the very least copies of appropriate support information from the organization's annual report
- A bank statement for a family owned business accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsor's relationship to the business and to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- 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
2. Do you have sample language for a Certification of Financial Support or Letter of Support?
Sponsors must clearly state the length and duration of the sponsorship.
In whatever form the affidavit is provided, it is important to note that 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, whereas one which says "I will provide my daughter $60,000 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
3. Why are DISSA 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 DISSA 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.
Financial Aid Information
Students who encounter unforeseen financial emergencies may be eligible for an DISSA Emergency Loan.
Penn State University has some scholarship funds that provide a limited number of tuition grants exclusively for currently enrolled international students.
Federal and State Aid
Most forms of financial aid offered at Penn State are provided by the federal or state governments and are available only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. International students are not eligible for these aid programs.
Private Alternative Loans
International students with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner may be eligible for a private alternative loan through a U.S. lending institution. Please refer to information on the Penn State Student Aid Web site.
International students are eligible for a number of assistantships, fellowships and grants offered by Penn State. The most common of these are graduate assistantships, which provide full tuition, 80% of health insurance premiums and a living stipend in return for service. Indicate that you wish to be considered for this aid when completing your application for admission. You will be evaluated in competition with all other qualified applicants. The Graduate School has additional information which may be useful.
There is, at this time, essentially no financial aid available to international undergraduate students. Financial aid is typically limited to outside scholarships obtained by you through private sources. There are limited opportunities for you to borrow from a private loan and most private loan programs require a U.S. citizen to serve as a co-signer. See above regarding Private Alternative Loans. You may want to consider applying to the Schreyer Honors College. All first-year Schreyer Scholars entering from high school receive an Academic Excellence Scholarship of $4,500 per year, renewable for a total of eight semesters, pending good academic standing and fulfillment of all requirements of the Schreyer Honors College.
There are a limited number of private alternative loans available to non-degree students with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner. See above regarding Private Alternative Loans. You will need to be sure to choose a lender that lends to non-degree students.
Payment of Semester Bill
The Office of the Bursar is responsible for maintenance of student accounts pertaining to tuition billing, acceptance fees, charges, payments, posting of financial aid, and refunds of excess funds, when available.
An email from the Bursar's Office will be sent to your official Penn State email account when the semester bill is available to view and/or pay on LionPATH. No paper bills will be mailed. First semester student bills are generated only after classes are scheduled.
Receiving Tuition Support from Penn State
Refer to "Anticipated Student Financial Aid Detail" on your tuition bill. This section shows the most current known aid available. The total amount will be shown as a deduction (credit) on your tuition bill. Refer to Financial Aid and Your Bill for more information.
Graduate Students: If you have an approved graduate assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship that has not been applied to your bill, you will need to contact the Bursar’s Office via LionPATH through the appropriate semester bill.
Students Sponsored by Home Government or Outside Agency
The Sponsor Relations Office serves sponsored students and can help with meeting both your needs and the needs of your sponsor. All sponsored students must file a "release of information" form with the Sponsor Relations Office. Certain information cannot be released due to University or Government privacy policies.
Receiving funds from Banks Outside the United States
Penn State has partnered with Flywire to offer a streamlined and cost-effective payment method to send international payments. As Penn State's preferred international payment method, Flywire can save you money compared to traditional banks by offering excellent foreign exchange rates - allowing you to pay in your home currency (in most cases).
Pay your tuition in a few easy steps with FLYWIRE
Bringing and Sending Money from Outside the United States
We recommend you bring or send money from any country outside the U.S. in the form of travelers' checks, payable in U.S. dollars.
If you send money out of the U.S. or receive money in the U.S. in any form over $10,000, you must file a report (Customs Form 4790) with U.S. Customs (Currency & Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. 1101, et seq.). Reporting transportation of funds above $10,000 should not incur additional tax penalties or cause other significant costs. Failure to report funds in an amount of more than $10,000 is likely to result in the seizure of the unreported funds as well as imposition of civil and criminal penalties.
International Student Fee
In Fall 2014, Penn State implemented an international student fee of $250 per semester for international undergraduate students who were enrolled during the 2013-14 academic year, and a $500-per-semesterfee for incoming international undergraduate students.
The resources generated by this fee are used to support comprehensive academic and student support services unique to international students. In part, these fees are used to meet increased reporting requirements by the U.S. federal government and other services needed to support the legal residence of international students. These resources are also used to fund services designed to enhance the academic experience of international undergraduate students, including programs focused on promoting the academic and social success of students adjusting to life in the United States.
Why do I have to pay this fee?
Since the fall of 2008, there has been a nearly 200 percent increase in the number of international undergraduate students who have chosen to further their education at Penn State. Penn State is committed to providing international students with comprehensive programs and services designed to help them thrive, and to get the most out of their investment in a world-class education. This fee will be used to support that commitment as Penn State’s international undergraduate student population continues to grow. All proceeds from the fee will be used to directly support international student programs and services at Penn State.
The following are links will provide information to awards administered by the Office of Global Programs.
Tuition Grant Information
Penn State University has some scholarship funds that provide a limited number of tuition grants exclusively for currently enrolled international students. Students can apply for these scholarship or tuition grants through iStart. You must check eligibility requirements listed in the links below.
Contact an International Student Adviser if you have further questions or concerns.
Other Sources of Scholarships and Financial Help
(do not pay for a scholarship search)
- EducationUSA (also visit the EducationUSA office in your home country for more information)
- Funding for U.S. Study (Institute of International Education)
- IIE Books (Institute of International Education)
- International Education Financial Aid
- P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship (for female graduate students)
- Rotary International
- Rowe Fund (interest-free loans to Latin American and Caribbean F-1 and J-1 students completing last two years of undergraduate or graduate studies)
CADIVI / CENCOEX Letters
Instructions on Requesting Venezuelan CADIVI Letters
Students in need of CADIVI currency exchange letters are required to create the letter as a Word document to their specifications and email the letter to DISSA-Adviser@psu.edu. DISSA will print your letter on Penn State letterhead, sign, and notarize this letter. Please note that we will also make edits to any grammatical errors or typos in the letter before signing and notarizing as well as correcting any inaccurate information. However, we are not responsible for adding the required information to the letter (ex. Schedule, fees, etc.)
You may need to list the following types of expenses in your letter:
- Tuition: verify at LionPATH under "Financial" or use the Student Tuition Calculator.
- Fees: verify in Tuition and Fees Schedule
- Living Expenses, Books and Supplies: see Financial Guarantee Requirements.
- Medical Insurance: see Student Health Insurance Brochure
NOTE: Estimates above may be based on 12 months, so you will need to calculate the monthly amount and multiply by the number of months in the requested semester to find the exact amount.
Living Expenses and books for 12 months at the undergraduate level = $21,000 (living and books combined)
Minus $1,600 (books) = $19,400 (living only)
/ 12 months = $1,617 X 4 months (spring semester)
= $6,468 (This is the amount you would list for living expenses if requesting a CADIVI letter for the spring semester.)
PLEASE BE SURE TO PROOFREAD YOUR LETTERS WHEN YOU PICK THEM UP.
If you are at a Commonwealth Campus or out of State College and would like your letter mailed by USPS, please include your address in your email. If you would like it sent by Express Mail, complete the Express Mail eForm within iStart.