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What Does it Cost to Attend The University of Pennsylvania?

As a member of the Ivy League, the University of Pennsylvania attracts some of the nation’s brightest and most driven students. If your student is considering attending UPenn, then you may be wondering how much it’s going to cost your family.


The good news is that most families don’t pay the full list price of a school, which means that there’s a good chance that schools like UPenn are more affordable than they initially seem. The not-so-great news is that the net cost of a school is highly variable, which means that it can be a little tricky to predict exactly what it will cost your family to send your student to a specific school.


Your family’s net cost will be affected by how much government aid your student qualifies for, how the institution awards financial aid, and any additional scholarships your student may earn. We’re going to cover how each of these factors can help reduce your family’s net cost and give you an idea of what you might expect to pay if your student attends UPenn.


Want to learn what University of Pennsylvania will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Pennsylvania needs to know.

The University of Pennsylvania’s List Price


Although we call it the list price, most schools call it the cost of attendance. It includes common expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board, and any miscellaneous costs of living. Although some things are standardized—such as tuition and fees—other components of the cost of attendance are variable, which often means that the cost of attendance is an estimate based on current students’ experiences.


For this reason, although the list price could be considered the “total cost” of an education at a school, the exact cost of a school varies from student to student. For the 2016-2017 year, the estimated cost of attendance for the University of Pennsylvania was $69,340. Since UPenn is a private school, this price remains the same for both in-state and out-of-state students.


In general, families that are considered high-income, where the household income equals or exceeds $175,000 a year, tend to pay the list price for their student. Although UPenn doesn’t offer merit aid, schools that do offer merit aid can sometimes lower the net cost for students in the top 30% of accepted students. In this post, we’ll go over a few other ways that students can reduce their family’s net cost.


What is the Price of UPenn with Financial Aid?


Hopefully you feel some relief knowing that it’s not likely that you’ll be paying the full list price. So what can you expect to pay once you factor in financial aid? Based on the 2016-2017 data, the average net cost for students with financial aid was $58,457.

Cost Based on Household Income of Attending UPenn


Your particular net cost is highly dependent on your household income, which will qualify your student for more or less financial aid. These are the average net prices for a student based on household income:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $4,939
$30,001-$48,000 $5,263
$48,001-$75,000 $12,322
$75,001-$110,000 $19,870
Over $110,000 $37,370

What is the Merit Aid Net Price at UPenn?


There are generally two broad types of financial aid: merit aid and need-based aid. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “merit aid,” it’s a financial award offered to students who have performed exceptionally well academically—like having a high GPA or standardized test score—or who have some other exceptional personal accomplishment. These could be for students’ achievements in activities like sports and art, for their demonstrated leadership, or for completing a high number of community service hours.


As we said before, the University of Pennsylvania does not offer merit aid to any students, since most of the students who are admitted to UPenn are similarly accomplished both academically and personally. This means that if your family does not have any demonstrated financial need, you can expect to pay the full list price.


Because of its strict need-based policy, UPenn ranks 933rd out of over 1000 schools we analyzed for merit aid generosity. You can review UPenn’s financial aid policies on their website.

Loans and Debt at UPenn


UPenn is a no-loan school, meaning that they will only offer grants in their financial aid packages. You will not need to pay back any financial aid you receive from the institution itself.


That being said, sometimes financial aid grants aren’t enough to make college affordable, so many students at UPenn take out a loan at some point. At UPenn, nearly three-quarters of the students have a loan—74% to be specific. The average size of the federal loan per undergraduate was $2,458 total across all four years.

Outcomes at UPenn


Given the financial investment that you would be making if your student chooses to attend the University of Pennsylvania, you may want to know whether most students graduate and how much they expect to earn after graduation. Luckily, 93% of students at UPenn graduate within 6 years, and graduates tend to earn a higher salary in the long term. After ten years, the average UPenn graduate earns around $85,900 a year.


Local Cost of Living Considerations


You also want to consider what it will be like for your student to live in Philadelphia, and how a part-time job might reduce the financial cost of college. The overall cost of living index for Philadelphia is 110.8, meaning that it’s about 10.8% higher than the national average—not too bad for a major U.S. city.

Other Ways to Save


If your family is near or above the $175,000 mark, you may be worried that your student’s education is going to be a significant financial burden on your family. However, there are ways that any student can reduce the cost of their education, regardless of family income. Here are some of the main ones:


Working. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the hourly minimum wage in Pennsylvania is equal to the federal minimum wage level at $7.25. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in Philadelphia across all occupations is $26.69. If your student is enrolled full-time, it’s unlikely that a part-time job will completely cover the cost of their education, but it can certainly help cover some of their living costs and teach them valuable skills outside of the classroom.


Living off-campus. Penn requires that their freshmen live on-campus, but after their first year, students can choose to live off-campus. These are the average apartment rent prices  in Philadelphia:

  • 1 bedroom: $985
  • 2 bedroom: $1,193
  • 3 bedroom: $1,493


Many upperclassmen end up moving off-campus, and it can sometimes be more affordable than staying on-campus. For example, the cost of living on-campus is around $10,600 a year, whereas UPenn estimates that living off-campus will cost $9,632 a year. That’s nearly a thousand dollars saved!


Private scholarships. While you student may be able to offset some of the costs of their education through part-time work, merit scholarships are a better bet for minimizing your student’s financial stress during college. Your student can supplement the cost of college by applying for private scholarships with the help of their high school counselor or by working with a company like CollegeVine. You may even want to ask your employer if there are scholarships available specifically for the children of employees.


One example of a merit scholarship is the prestigious National Merit Scholarship. In order to qualify, your student must:


  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT during their junior year (or the equivalent year in other educational patterns) and score in the top 1%.
  • Attend a high school, traditional or homeschooled, in the United States, D.C., or a U.S. commonwealth or territory.


Not only could scoring well on the PSAT lower the cost of attendance, but it can also help them perform well on the SAT, which can open up other scholarship opportunities. To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship and how to qualify, read our post here.

Wrapping it Up


There are a lot of factors to consider when your student is applying for college, including finances. By considering how financial aid, working, and scholarships can reduce the cost of college, the actual price your family is expected to pay might seem less intimidating.


However, figuring all of this out on your own, especially for each school your student is interested in, will require a lot of research and effort on your part. That’s where CollegeVine can help; as part of our College Applications Program,  our Finances tool shows students the ROI of different schools and majors and help students identify scholarships to apply for. On average, our students earn about $83,000 in scholarships, which helps make their academic dreams a reality. Find out if working with our Financial Aid Tools is right for your family!


For more information about the University of Pennsylvania and financial aid, check out these posts:

UPenn’s Acceptance Rate: What Does It Take to Get In?

Parents: 12 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms

FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.