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Should I have expected more in aid, or is this about right for Penn State? I don't understand.

wearepsu18wearepsu18 2 replies1 threads New Member
For some background, I was planning on attending Penn State University Park (out of state). I understand that it's one of the most expensive places to go, but I've always wanted to go there for my major, but now it seems like due to financials and lack of help I just really can't. I got my financial aid package from PSU and I am beyond confused - maybe I just assumed I would receive more help than I would be and don't understand the process, but given my situation, the amount they expect to be taken out in loans for my family income is insane.

My mother is a single mother with two kids, making less than $30k/yr with not very much additional in child support. The FAFSA showed an EFC of 0, rightfully so. And yet, to my surprise, absolutely no help was given outside of the two numbers shown in the email before even receiving my package from PSU - only the maximum Pell Grant and $5,500 in loans. Between non billable and billable expenses, the cost for Fall '20/Spring '21 is estimated to be over $54,000. Less than $12,000 in aid for the same period was offered, leaving more than $42,000 left over.

I understand that financial aid from colleges is only meant to cover a portion of the cost, and you must make arrangements otherwise. However, I didn't expect to need to pay $42k/yr for a family with an income of under $30k/yr that is already stretched thin. Is this just what I get for choosing to attend there?
edited June 19
18 replies
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Replies to: Should I have expected more in aid, or is this about right for Penn State? I don't understand.

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34118 replies4842 threads Super Moderator
    State Universities are supported by taxes of their residents. They don't usually give $ to Out of State Students. You should have run the Net Price Calculator on Penn State's web site. It would have let you know the bad news in advance. Each school has one.

    What is your home state?
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  • wearepsu18wearepsu18 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Didn't expect it to be nearly that bad for a family that can contribute nothing, I guess I was very wrong. New York is my home state.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9865 replies380 threads Senior Member
    I think that's why "EFC" is a horrible choice for the number generated by FAFSA. All it's used for is to indicate Pell eligibility.

    Unfortunately, Penn State is too expensive for most OOS students. Do you have any affordable in state options?
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34118 replies4842 threads Super Moderator
    Are you near any commutable schools? There are also NYS aid options like Excelsior(?)
    @sybbie719
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9865 replies380 threads Senior Member
    The NYS Excelsior Grant would cover any tuition not covered by the Pell Grant. I don't know if you can take the TAP Grant instead. That would be more helpful because I think TAP is allied to tuition before the Pell, so you may get more.

    Are there any 4 year SUNYs within commuting distance?
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  • wearepsu18wearepsu18 2 replies1 threads New Member
    I did look into SUNYs because of the financial situation we are in, and two of them look like something I could pursue. Are there any major problems or downsides with choosing to be admitted to a SUNY for a spring 2020 semester over a fall 2020? Not only is it looking better to do that because of my limited time, but the current pandemic makes me unsure about the fall semester anyway.

    I have unfortunately managed the whole college finance process very poorly, I was lulled into a false sense of security with the whole idea of "aid" and didn't fully process that it would be so unmanageable for me. I've already given up my deposit, but you live and you learn. I'm exploring my other options, because non billable + billable expenses surpassing 54k, meaning 42k per year after aid, means >150k in loans. That's not something I'm able or willing to do.

    Thanks for the insight, everyone.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83404 replies741 threads Senior Member
    edited June 19
    wearepsu18 wrote: »
    Didn't expect it to be nearly that bad for a family that can contribute nothing, I guess I was very wrong. New York is my home state.

    If you had used the net price calculator at https://cce.ais.psu.edu/netprice-calculator/ before applying, it would have told you (as a non-Pennsylvania resident with FAFSA EFC = $0) that you would have gotten only $6,195 in grants (the Pell grant that you would get at almost any US university).

    Penn State financial aid is not very good even for Pennsylvania residents, so non-Pennsylvania residents should not expect any better.
    edited June 19
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  • thumper1thumper1 78287 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    The SUNY system has a lot of schools. I’m sure there is one you could enjoy.

    @sybbie719 is it too late for this student to apply to SUNY schools and receive a TAP or Excelsior award?

    Another thought to the OP...do you live close enough to attend a community college and commute from home. I think your Pell Grant of $6000 or so would cover the tuition costs...or very close to it.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6537 replies1 threads Senior Member
    " >150k in loans. That's not something I'm able or willing to do."

    You are wise to avoid this. This is definitely too much in loans.

    You have some great public universities in-state in New York. I do not see any problem with waiting for spring admission, or even taking a gap year and starting in September of 2021. The pandemic *should* be over by then (I hope) and life will have returned to normalcy.

    Another option is to take two years at a community college near home, and transfer to an in-state public university for the last two years of your bachelor's degree. One friend of a daughter did this due to a financial situation similar to yours (but in a different state) and it has worked out well for her.

    I think that I would be tempted to call admissions at a public university (CUNY or SUNY) near where you live, tell them your situation, and see what they suggest. Tell them that you are thinking of taking a gap semester or a gap year or starting at community college, have very restricted financial resources, and see what they suggest.
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  • NJdad07090NJdad07090 611 replies8 threads Member
    As FYI , just so you know , YOU could not have taken out enough loans to go to Penn State, your mom could perhaps but as a student you could not borrow that much nor should you be able to. Penn State gives very little "aid " to OOS students, Good luck where you end up.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 684 replies6 threads Member
    If your stats are good enough maybe look at Questbridge? It's very competitive but worth a shot. Maybe a gap year to re-evaluate costs and your odds along with a better balance of schools?

    https://www.questbridge.org/high-school-students/national-college-match/finalist-profile
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20966 replies2052 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 20
    chmcnm wrote: »
    If your stats are good enough maybe look at Questbridge? It's very competitive but worth a shot. Maybe a gap year to re-evaluate costs and your odds along with a better balance of schools?

    https://www.questbridge.org/high-school-students/national-college-match/finalist-profile

    op is now too late for QuestBridge. this would have had to been done last.
    edited June 20
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  • parentologistparentologist 215 replies21 threads Junior Member
    I cannot think of anything that Penn State has to offer that is not also available in the vast and excellent SUNY system, for which you are in state. I hope you applied to SUNY schools, too, and hope you got better aid for them.
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  • kidzncatzkidzncatz 1126 replies7 threads Senior Member
    edited June 20
    Penn State's tuition is lower for instate students, of course, but institutional aid (aid given by Penn State University as opposed to federal or state aid) is virtually nil for most students and no better for instate students than for out of state students. We are an instate 0 EFC family and I wouldn't allow my daughter to apply there because there was no way we could afford it without hefty parent or co-signed loans.

    @wearepsu18 I'm impressed by your adaptability and good sense and wish you the best wherever and whenever you matriculate.
    edited June 20
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 684 replies6 threads Member
    edited June 23
    sybbie719 wrote: »
    chmcnm wrote: »
    If your stats are good enough maybe look at Questbridge? It's very competitive but worth a shot. Maybe a gap year to re-evaluate costs and your odds along with a better balance of schools?

    https://www.questbridge.org/high-school-students/national-college-match/finalist-profile

    op is now too late for QuestBridge. this would have had to been done last.

    For next year. Take a gap year.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/student-here-ask-me-anything/2189370-daca-recipient-got-into-uic-after-a-gap-year-ask-me-anything.html
    edited June 23
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