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 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
- 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.
Links to PDF charts of financial guarantee information:
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 - dated within 6 months, and show at least the amount equal to 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.
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.
Financial Guarantee materials can be:
- Bank Statements or bank letters in your name or your sponsors name in English accompanied by a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Provident fund accounts in your name or your sponsors name and 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 and a signed dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- Stocks, bonds, or other equities and a signed letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment (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 and a signed letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment (the annual salary must be adequate to support both the student and sponsor expenses)
- Loan Sanction letters indicating loan approval and a signed, dated letter detailing the sponsors relationship to the student and detailing the sponsorship commitment
- 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 letter detailing the sponsors relationship 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
- 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?
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
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.
Spouse or Child Expenses
If you will be accompanied by dependents, you are fully responsible for their support and additional funds for your financial guarantee as required. Health insurance coverage is mandatory for all F-2 and J-2 accompanying dependents. University assistantship stipends are not sufficient to cover dependents' expenses and are not intended to do so. The high cost of child care for preschool children (ages 0-6 years) is not included in the child expenses figures. Child insurance expenses have a maximum fee for 3 or more children.
|Additional Spouse Expenses||$6,000 Living||$3,400 Mandatory Insurance||$9,400 Total Additional Funds|
|Additional First Child Expenses||$3,500 Living||$3,400 Mandatory Insurance||$6,900 Total Additional Funds|
|Additional Second Child Expenses||$3,500 Living||$3,400 Mandatory Insurance||$6,900 Total Additional Funds|
|Each Additional Child||$3,500 Living||$3,500 Total for each additional child|
Please also read other information on our website about Dependents (Spouse & Children).
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 $5,000 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
All new international undergraduate students (Fall 2018 and after) will be assessed a per semester fee while they are enrolled at Penn State. Refer to The Bursar's Website for additioanl information.
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. Application due dates are June 15 for fall semester and October 15 for spring semester. 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)
- Flywire Charitable Foundation - Academic Scholarships. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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)