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High-school senior Erica Yeon of Central High School of Philadelphia was thrilled with both her acceptance letter from Penn and the financial-aid package it offered.

"Financial aid is something I definitely need to go to Penn," said Yeon, who plans on joining Penn's new class of 2012.

She isn't alone.

Across the board, recently accepted high-school students are saying that Penn's new financial-aid plan is making the school more appealing to them, though it isn't the only factor in their decisions.

Under the University's new financial-aid initiative, which was announced last December, students from families with incomes of less than $100,000 will receive loan-free plans beginning this fall. By fall of 2009, loan-free packages will be offered to all students who are eligible for financial aid.

The enhanced financial-aid program has encouraged a number of high-school students to apply to Penn.

DeAnna Supplee, high-school senior at Academy of Notre Dame De Namur in Villanova, Pa., is one example.

Supplee, who was accepted to Penn in the regular-decision cycle, said that learning about Penn's improved financial-aid initiative instilled in her a sense of respect for the school because it demonstrated the University's commitment to ensuring a good education for all students regardless of their ability to pay.

"Not all institutions not only have the means but also the intention to do that," she added.

Coming from a family with four children, Supplee said that financial aid is a key factor in her decision about which school to attend.

Experts in the financial-aid industry agree. For students who need monetary help, a comprehensive aid package is crucial, said Philip Day, the President and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

However, a generous financial-aid deal wasn't the only factor that convinced these students to choose Penn over the other schools that had also accepted them.

Yeon, who was also accepted to Penn State and Wellesley College, said both schools offered her a relatively similar financial-aid package.

Beyond financial aid, Yeon said she liked the atmosphere of the campus, which she experienced while working in a Penn research lab during high school.

The University's rigorous academics and its location - close to her home in Philadelphia - were some of the other advantages of Penn compared to the other schools, Yeon said.

Supplee added Penn's reputation and a diverse student body to the mixture of reasons for choosing it over other schools.

Students want to get "the best quality [of education] for the best price," Day said.

On that note, "Penn has done a great job," in terms of helping students to overcome financial barriers, he added.

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