The financial aid program at Penn — touted as one of the best in the country — has been rebranded as an “all-grant” policy. Prior to the change made this summer, the program was referred to as a “no-loan” policy.
The change is limited to name only — the program remains the same, according to the University’s financial aid webpage. The program still provides students with a financial aid package that includes grants and work-study jobs, and there are still no loans included in the program.
But the webpage also states that loans are available “at the student’s discretion, to substitute for work-study and expected summer savings, for certain expenses not included in the standard academic year cost of attendance (e.g. health insurance), and for summer school.”
Ron Ozio, Penn’s director of Media Relations, confirmed that the program itself has not changed.
“There is no change to the program,” he said in an email. “Penn remains one of the few universities in the country fully committed to an all-grant financial aid program. This was just an effort to simplify the way we talk about it.”
Last semester, the student group Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation held a protest against Penn’s no-loan financial aid policy in which students wrote the amount of money they had taken out in loans on a poster around their necks.
“There is no shame in us having or showing that we have loans. Rather, Penn should be ashamed for telling the world that it is accessible when many of the students of low-income backgrounds are forced to take out loans,” SOUL wrote on their Facebook event page.
Although the program promises financial aid packages that do not mandate that students take out loans, many ultimately take out loans to afford college expenses not covered by the University
2015 College graduate Alexander Droznin-Izrael said that he took out loans to cover costs that Penn did not take into account in calculating his financial aid — for example, food, textbooks and a computer.
Droznin-Izrael said the new name does not clarify the policy.
“I think it’s still confusing,” he said. “I think Penn should do a better job of explaining to people that even if they get financial aid they may still have to take out loans.”
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