The primary form of financial aid for Penn State Great Valley students is federal student loans (Unsubsidized Direct and Graduate PLUS loans). Students who are not eligible for federal student loans may apply for private student loans.
Federal Student Loan Eligibility
Penn State Great Valley graduate students are eligible for federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loans when they:
- Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students must submit a new FAFSA annually by April 15 for the academic year beginning in August.
- Are formally admitted to and enrolled in an eligible master's degree program. Certificate programs are not eligible for federal loans.
- Are enrolled at least half-time for the semester they seek a loan. Half-time enrollment for a graduate student at Penn State is 5–8 credits (at least two 3-credit courses) within a 14-week semester.
- Comply with Penn State's Satisfactory Academic Progress standard.
- Are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid social security number.
- Comply with any federal verification requests.
- Remain in good standing on past educational loans per the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS).
- Meet any other federal criteria listed at Federal Student Aid.
Private Student Loans
Students who are not eligible for federal student loans — such as students enrolled in certificate programs, students enrolled less than half-time, and students who are not U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens — may apply for a private student loan with an independent lender. Students manage private loans directly with the lender.
Program Costs with Loans
Understand program costs before committing to a student loan. To estimate the total cost of a master’s degree:
- Use the Penn State Tuition and College Cost Estimator to project your annual charges. Multiply that estimate times the number of years you need to complete your degree.
- Learn how federal loan origination fees and private loan fees will be applied to the amounts you borrow.
- Use a loan repayment calculator to estimate your cumulative program costs with loan interest and to estimate monthly repayment amounts.
For more assistance with managing program costs, visit Financial Literacy at Penn State.
Steps to a Graduate Student Loan at Penn State Great Valley
- Apply for a master’s degree program and accept your offer of admission.
- Submit a student loan application:
- Submit a federal loan application (FAFSA) for a graduate Direct Unsubsidized loan. Loans will divided evenly between fall and spring semesters. If you want a loan for one semester only, indicate that on your application.
- If you need funding in addition to what the Direct Unsubsidized loan offers, you may also apply for a federal Graduate PLUS loan.
- If you are not eligible for either federal student loan because of your enrollment level, your citizenship status, your loan history or non-degree status, you may wish to apply for a student loan from a private lender.
- Complete the required loan documents. No loan can be processed until these requirements are complete.
- You must sign a master promissory note. If you applied for the Unsubsidized Loan, sign the federal graduate student Loan Agreement (MPN). If you applied for a federal PLUS loan, sign the PLUS Loan Agreement (MPN) in addition to the first MPN.
- For either federal loan, complete the federal graduate student loan Entrance Counseling.
- If you applied for a private loan, contact the lender about documentation.
- Set up your LionPATH account and enroll in all classes for both sessions in the semester. No loan will be offered until you meet the semester enrollment minimum for the loan you request. Federal loans require half-time enrollment (at least two courses per semester). Enrollment requirements for private student loans vary by lender.
- Manage your loan in LionPATH until it is disbursed to your account and you see your semester bill balance is zero.
- Complete all courses for which you receive a loan. Loans are automatically withdrawn for the entire semester if a student drops eligibility criteria. Review Penn State’s Satisfactory Academic Process policy.
Loans for Students Graduating in the Fall Semester
Great Valley students who are graduating in the fall semester can request that the loan they accept on LionPATH be applied to the fall semester only, and not split between fall and spring semesters. To make this request, the following steps should be completed several days before your fall semester bill due date:
- On LionPATH, accept your academic year federal student loan offer for the dollar amount you want for the fall-semester only.
- On LionPATH, submit your application to graduate. See the academic calendar for dates.
- Via email, request an adjustment to your federal student loan disbursement. Once your application to graduate shows on LionPATH, and you have accepted the academic year loan offer, send an email to [email protected] with your full name and your 9-digit Penn State ID number, requesting that the Fall-Spring loan you have accepted on LionPATH be adjusted so all funds are applied to the fall semester only.
- Great Valley will submit your request to University Park. Monitor your LionPATH account for the update.
Students graduating in the fall semester who do not request a fall-only loan will see the loan amount they accept divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters. To receive enough to cover the fall semester only, accept a fall/spring loan in double the dollar amount needed for the fall semester and half the accepted amount will be authorized and disbursed for the fall semester. If you do not enroll in spring classes, the spring half of the accepted loan will not be authorized or disbursed, effectively creating a fall-only loan by default.
- Great Valley students who have funds remaining in the year’s federal Unsubsidized Loan cap and are enrolled in summer half-time will receive a summer loan offer on LionPATH. Students must accept or decline the summer loan offer. Students who accept the loan will set the dollar amount in the ‘Accept’ process. Note: the federal government will only disburse summer loan funds one week before the first day of the latest class on the student’s summer schedule. Refunds will be disbursed three days later. A summer loan will be listed as “anticipated aid” on the student’s summer bill page so that no late fees are assessed.
- Students who have funds remaining in the year’s federal Unsubsidized Loan cap who are enrolled in only one summer course are not eligible for a summer loan but may request an increase to their fall/spring loan in an amount to cover their summer costs. The increase amount will not be directly applied to a summer bill but will be sent to the student as a fall/spring refund, which the student uses to pay the summer bill. Students must monitor their bursar account to ensure that their request is processed. Requests for increases to fall/spring loans to cover the cost of summer coursework must be submitted by April 30.
- To request a fall/spring loan increase, submit an email from your Penn State email account to [email protected]. Write “Loan Increase Request” in the subject line. In the body of the message state that you are requesting an increase to your fall/spring loan to cover summer costs, and provide:
- Your Name
- Your 9-digit ID number
- The current total amount of your fall/spring loan
- The amount you wish to add to your fall/spring loan (be sure to calculate the origination fee into your request amount)
- The new total for your fall/spring loan
- Accept your loan increase offer when it appears in your Award Summary on LionPATH. Monitor your LionPATH Student Financials page to verify the refund disbursement.
- Students without funds remaining in their Unsubsidized Loan cap who are enrolled in at least two summer courses may apply for a summer Grad PLUS loan, and specify “Summer Only” on the application. The Grad PLUS loan must be accepted in LionPATH and the student must monitor disbursement.
- Students without funds remaining in their Unsubsidized Loan cap who are enrolled in only one summer course, may be able to apply for a fall/spring Grad PLUS loan or Grad PLUS loan increase to cover summer costs, as long as the increase request is within the student’s fall/spring cost of attendance. Fall/spring Grad PLUS loan applications must be originated by the student at www.studentloans.gov by April 1.
- The fall/spring Grad PLUS loan will not be directly applied to a summer bill but will be offered to the student as a fall/spring PLUS loan. The student must accept the loan in LionPATH, and the disbursed funds will be sent to the student as a fall/spring refund, which the student uses to pay the summer bill.
- Students applying for a private loan for summer sessions must specify “Summer Only” on the lender application.