Financial aid is money to help pay for college. Financial aid can be in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study funds.
Applying for Financial Aid
Submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the only action required to apply for most financial aid at Penn State; however, private scholarships and some Penn State scholarships require separate applications. Visit the Penn State Student Aid site for more information.
You will need to complete the FAFSA each year for financial aid consideration. Refer to the Penn State Student Aid site for Penn State’s recommended FAFSA filing dates for maximum consideration of financial aid.
Veteran Special Circumstances
When you complete the FAFSA, you will be asked to provide tax information for what the Department of Education refers to as the “prior prior year” — meaning two tax years before the year you intend to enroll in school. So, the 2021-2022 FAFSA will use 2019 tax information.
For many student veterans, income from two years ago might be significantly different than it is now. (For example, if you were an E-7 on active duty two years ago but now you are unemployed or have a lower-paying job.) While you might not initially meet federal aid thresholds based on the income information requested on the FAFSA, you could meet the financial aid threshold now based on your current employment situation. The Department of Education has something called “Professional Judgment” to be able to utilize more recent income information that more accurately reflects your financial situation. However, you initially need to supply the information for the tax year being requesed on the FAFSA. The Penn State Office of Student Aid has a policy for any student or family that has a change in their financial situation that allows them to review a FAFSA submission, and, if certain criteria are met, adjust it as appropriate using updated income information.
If this applies to you, contact the Office of Student Aid and tell them you would like to speak to a member of the Special Circumstances Team regarding a change in financial circumstances, and specify if this change is due to separation from the military. You will be asked to provide updated income information which may include your most recent tax return or pay stubs for you (and your spouse, if applicable.)
Pennsylvania State Grant
The Pennsylvania State Grant is funded by the Commonwealth and awarded by PHEAA to undergraduate Pennsylvania residents who demonstrate high financial need. Submit the FAFSA, which contains a direct link to the state grant form, by May 1. If you have already submitted your FAFSA without completing the form, you can do so on the PHEAA website.
Military/Veteran Specific Financial Aid
As a student veteran or service member, you have additional financial aid resources available to you. Below are specific forms of financial aid that you can take advantage of in addition to the financial aid available to all Penn State students.
Grants have no requirement of repayment and most are based on a student’s financial need. Not all grants require financial need. The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant does not require financial need, for example.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants provide money to college students whose parent/guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. This grant money, like other grants, must be used to pay for education expenses and there is no obligation to repay the money provided by the grant. Refer to the Office of Student Aid’s website for eligibility criteria for this award.
The state of Pennsylvania provides financial aid opportunities through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) for military and Pennsylvania National Guard members as well as veterans. Visit Aid for Military and Pennsylvania National Guard to learn more.
There are more than 50 scholarships across Penn State that have a stated preference in the award criteria for military-connected students whether they be servicemember, veteran, or dependent. To qualify for any scholarship, you must first fill out a FAFSA.
World Campus scholarships
Penn State Undergraduate Scholarships
Outside of Penn State, there are several organizations and non-profits that also offer scholarships for military-connected students. Review the list of Military Specific Scholarships and Grants. Additional military/veteran financial resources are also available.
Servicemembers are afforded certain rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The interest rate on loans taken out prior to entering the service are capped at 6% while you serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, regardless of the agreed-upon loan rate when the loan was initiated. This cap applies to student loans initiated prior to entering military service. Read more about limited interest rates under the SCRA on the federal student aid page.
In addition to the work-study opportunities offered by Penn State, if you are using VA educational benefits you are also eligible for VA work-study opportunities. VA work-study opportunities are funded by the VA to conduct work for VA-related activities. Most campuses have VA work-study opportunities. See our VA Work-Study page for more information.