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Expanding Aid for Students From Low- and Middle-Income Families
March 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 27

Reinforcing its commitment to ease the financial burden on low- and middle-income families and to continue to attract top students with diverse economic backgrounds, the University of Pennsylvania announced a significant expansion of its financial-aid initiative for low- and middle-income families. Beginning this fall, Penn will replace loans with grants for students from high-need families earning less than $60,000.

The new income threshold builds on a program announced last year, (Almanac March 28, 2006) which replaced loans with grants for eligible students from families earning less than $50,000. 

The move coincides with a $7 million increase in the University’s undergraduate financial-aid budget for the coming academic year, with those funds targeted to low- and middle-income families.

“We want to send a clear message to families who may have felt that Penn was out of their reach that we are committed to supporting them as they seek to provide the best possible educational opportunities for their children,” President Amy Gutmann said. “Promoting equality of opportunity for talented students from all backgrounds is a key mission for Penn, and we will continue to seek ways to reach out to these students.”

Penn spends more than $90 million per year out of its operating budget for need-based grants to undergraduate students.

Penn will continue its longstanding need-blind admissions policy, which admits students based on academic achievement, without regard to their ability to pay.  Penn’s need-blind admissions policy also guarantees that any accepted student who matriculates with a demonstrated financial need will receive a financial-aid package that meets the full extent of the student’s need for a full four years.

Since 1997-98, the percentage of the average freshman aid package met by grants has increased from 68 percent to 82 percent, while the average loan as a percentage of total aid has declined from 23 percent to 9 percent.  The average freshman grant increased by 72 percent during the same period.

Roughly 40 percent of Penn freshmen receiving financial aid will have their need met without any expected student loan in 2007-2008.

For the eighth year, Penn will continue the Summer Savings Waiver Program, which provides grants to offset the normal summer self-help work-contribution requirement of students who participate in unpaid or low-paying community-service or career-related activity during the summer.

Almanac - March 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 27