Penn State Trustees hear update on financial aid, enrollment

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nearly one-third of Penn State's undergraduate students are first-generation college students, and almost four-fifths receive some form of financial aid, including 4,483 students who received Trustee Scholarships, presenters told Penn State's Board of Trustees today (Nov. 16).

Anne Rohrbach, executive director for Undergraduate Admissions, followed by Anna Griswold, assistant vice president for Undergraduate Education and executive director of student aid, imparted recent statistics to the board. Rohrbach said the University's annual enrollment figures, released on Oct. 17, demonstrated a slight increase overall, with notable growth exceeding 16 percent among students enrolled exclusively online through Penn State's World Campus. Adult learners comprise 94 percent of fully online Penn State students, who hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. territories and 54 countries around the world.

The University observed a slight increase in total enrollment to 96,562, up from last year’s official tally of 96,519, which encompasses all undergraduate, graduate, online, law and medical students. Approximately 56 percent of campus-based students are at the University Park campus.

Griswold addressed the state of student aid at the University, noting that 29 percent of undergraduates receive federal Pell grants, and that funding from all sources -- grants, scholarships, work-study funding and loans -- exceeded the $1 billion mark among more than 74,000 students, or 80 percent of enrolled students last year at the University. Education loans represent 66 percent of that total, and among those students, nearly 64,000 receiving aid are undergraduates, who receive more than $975 million collectively.

Last year, about two-thirds of the students graduating with a baccalaureate degree graduated with student loan debt, and their average debt exceeded the national average for baccalaureate graduates by $8,500. However, Penn State graduates' default rate on student loan repayments is nearly half the national average and more than 2 percentage points lower than the statewide average among all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

"Satisfactory repayment on educational loans is typically characterized by students who graduate and obtain jobs with reasonable salaries, a testament to our graduation success rate," Griswold noted.

One of Penn State's most significant and impactful scholarship programs for undergraduates, the Trustee Scholarship Program, matches donor endowments with University funding pledged in perpetuity. Griswold noted that more than 90 percent of the program's $100 million goal, established in 2002, has been attained through the end of the last fiscal year.

"This program underscores the critical role that scholarships play for our students," Griswold said. "There were 4,483 Trustee Scholarship recipients last year out of nearly 22,000 eligible students. The average GPA of the recipients was 3.39. They were awarded $8.4 million by Penn State’s colleges, campuses and administrative units, for an average of about $2,000 per recipient."

Griswold also highlighted the $7.6 million Penn State Tuition Assistance Grant fund, which, in tandem with the University's Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant, makes awards to the most economically challenged students. The fund received extra University support last year through an additional $1 million for need-based grants.

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Last Updated November 20, 2012