Student Loans

Student Loans

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 June 1 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:

For more assistance with managing program costs, visit Financial Literacy at Penn State.

Steps to a Graduate Student Loan at Penn State Great Valley

  1. Apply for a master’s degree program and accept your offer of admission.
  2. 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.
  3. Complete the required loan documents. No loan can be processed until these requirements are complete.
  4. 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.
  5. Manage your loan in LionPATH until it is disbursed to your account.
  6. 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. 

Students Graduating in the Fall Semester

If you are graduating in the fall semester and wish to have a fall-only loan, do not accept your federal loan amount on LionPATH until after you have applied for graduation on LionPATH.

  1. Submit an “Application for Graduation” in the “My Academics” section on LionPATH within the posted application dates.
  2. Once you see your Application to Graduate listed on LionPATH, and at least two days before your bill due date, accept the federal student loan offer on LionPATH for the dollar amount desired for the fall-semester only. This must be completed two days before the bill due date or you may be subject to a late fee.
  3. Once you have accepted the federal loan on LionPATH, you must email, providing your full name and 9-digit ID number, and request that the loan amount accepted on LP be applied to the fall semester only.
  4. The Great Valley Office of Student Aid will submit a request to University Park, asking that the loan accepted be applied only to the fall semester.
  5. Monitor the loan amount on LionPATH to ensure it is correct.

Students graduating in the fall who do not follow this process will be offered a loan for both the fall and spring semesters combined, which will be split evenly between the two semesters. To get a loan amount to cover the fall semester only, accept a fall/spring loan in double the dollar amount needed for the fall semester. Half the accepted amount will be offered for the fall semester; the spring half of the accepted loan will not be authorized or disbursed if the student is not enrolled in spring classes, effectively creating s fall-only loan by default.

Summer Loans

  • Students who have funds remaining in the year’s federal Unsubsidized Loan cap and are enrolled in at least two summer courses will automatically receive a summer loan offer on LionPATH and can set the loan amount in the loan ‘Accept’ process. Students must accept or decline a summer loan offer on LionPATH in order for the funds to be disbursed. Note that refunds of excess financial aid from summer session loans are disbursed after the first day of the latest class on the student’s summer schedule.
  • 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 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:
  1. Your Name
  2. Your 9-digit ID number
  3. The current total amount of your fall/spring loan
  4. The amount you wish to add to your fall/spring loan (be sure to calculate the origination fee into your request amount)
  5. 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 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.