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Two students walk by the button in the spring of 2020. Partnering with Career services, the Summer Funding Program will provide financial support to middle-income students pursuing summer internships and research opportunities.

Credit: Alexa Cotler

Middle-income students pursuing summer internships and research opportunities can now receive financial support from Penn's Summer Funding Program.

The Summer Funding Program provides stipends to select students to pursue under-funded summer internship opportunities. Previously reserved for highly aided students with an annual family income of $65,000 or less, the program has expanded to include students with an annual family income of $65,000 to $140,000 following a partnership between Student Registration and Financial Services and Career Services. Chosen applicants will receive an award of up to $4,000. The application deadlines are Feb. 28, March 28, and April 18.

SFRS partnered with Career Services to make under-funded summer internships more accessible, Penn Today reported. The program will allot an additional $500,000 to between 125 and 150 middle-income students.

“It’s always been our goal to scale up,” Director of Communications for the Division of Finance Paul Richards said. “We hear consistently from students about the need for summer funding for students who want to get their foot in the door to a future career opportunity.” 

Due to high demand, students applying for the program must meet several criteria, including documentation of a candidate’s internship, which should involve working a minimum of 30 hours per week and have a duration of more than six weeks. The application also requires a resume, personal statement, internship offer letter, and a detailed budget for an award of up to $4,000.

Many internships provide little to no pay to interns, pricing many students out of job opportunities. A 2014 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that half of the internships pursued by seniors at 700 American colleges were unpaid.

Executive Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt said she anticipates the program will allow at least five or six times as many students to receive funding than in previous years. 

“Although this has been a strange year with COVID, we strongly encourage students to apply," Hewitt said, “This application is opportunity for students to launch their career.” 

A 2012 study by The Chronicle of Higher Education, which surveyed 50,000 employers, found that internships and other employment experience were weighed more heavily than GPA in making hiring decisions. 

“Our funding process really is focused on helping students get started in their careers,” Hewitt told Penn Today. “We really want to help students both explore what they want to do with their lives after they leave Penn and take steps toward achieving those goals.”