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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.98 / 4.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have policies and programs to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:
Yes

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Penn State's last major fundraising campaign, "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students", raised over $2 billion in private support, including approximately $519 million pledged for undergraduate student scholarships, the top priority of the campaign.

Penn State's president, Dr. Eric Barron, outlined six priorities during his first report to the University's Board of Trustees in May 2014, one of which is "to deliver to students the highest-quality education at a cost that ensures access for Pennsylvania’s citizens". http://news.psu.edu/story/320398/2014/07/11/administration/barron-outlines-priority-student-access-affordability-report

In its most recent strategic plan, the Office of Undergraduate Education lists Access and Affordability as its second priority area, and outlines specific strategies to address the challenge, including scholarship dollars, financial literacy programs for students and families, and initiatives in support of effective progress toward graduation. The plan also notes that Undergraduate Education plays a role in defining pathways to a Penn State education that can be accomplished at lower cost, for example the refinement of principles for alternative forms of credentialing including prior learning assessment and the implementation of low cost summer programs to enhance timely degree completion.

Educational Equity has examined the wider array of factors involved in helping low-income students manage costs for attendance and to better align the University’s targeted recruiting efforts with potential students’ financial ability to be successful at Penn State. Efforts include making available a “cost calculator” tool on-line so that prospective students and their families can gain an idea of the potential financial aid profile, cost of attendance, and unmet need might be.


A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

The Administrative Council on Multicultural Affairs, convened by the Vice Provost for Educational Equity (Chief Diversity Officer) and consisting of the multicultural officer from each college as well as representatives from Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Educational Equity, the Honors College, recruitment centers, the Career Center, Student Aid, Multicultural Resource Center, and Penn State Campuses other than University Park, meets monthly to discuss issues pertaining to underrepresented/underserved students, including specific attention to low-income students.

The Vice Provost for Educational Equity sits on the President’s Council and the Academic Leadership Council to ensure that issues pertaining to underrepresented/underserved students, including students from low-income backgrounds, are considered and addressed.

The annual Enrollment Management Conference brings together those at Penn State who work with students within the enrollment process. Several sessions directly address the challenges faced by low-income students and approaches to better serving them.

The Vice Provost for Educational Equity monitors for students who have difficulty in meeting the deadlines for tuition payment to identify students who would benefit from intervention from staff who provide targeted advising, counseling, and academic support services.


A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Penn State offers a number of outreach programs that help prepare low-income students for higher education.

The Student Support Services Program provides a variety of services to enhance academic performance and ultimately increase the retention and graduation rates of low-income, first-generation college students and those with disabilities. SSSP also aims to foster an institutional climate supportive of the success of program participants. http://equity.psu.edu/sssp
The Equal Opportunity Center, Philadelphia helps adults age 19 or older to begin or to continue a program of postsecondary education. Adults assisted by EOC programs across the country are low-income individuals whose parents did not graduate from college. http://www.equity.psu.edu/eocphila/
Talent Search helps eligible youth and adults to continue in and complete secondary education or its equivalent and to enroll in or re-enter a college or training program. This program is based at University Park and serves schools in the Western Pennsylvania communities of Aliquippa, Clairton, New Kensington, Farrell, and Sharon. http://www.equity.psu.edu/ts/
Upward Bound is a federally funded program that helps high-school students gain academic skills and motivation to continue their education beyond high school. At Penn State, the Upward Bound Program serves at least 116 students each year from six target high schools in five counties - Clearfield, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Mifflin, and Perry. http://www.equity.psu.edu/ub/
Upward Bound Math and Science assists participating students in recognizing and developing their potential to excel in math or science and encourages them to pursue postsecondary degrees in these fields. Penn State UBMS serves eligible students from Harrisburg, Reading and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in six target high schools located in urban school districts in the state. http://www.equity.psu.edu/ubms/
Upward Bound Migrant (UBM) assists 9th through 12th grade students with migrant farmworker backgrounds gain academic skills and motivation in preparation for precollege and postsecondary success. Services include academic instruction in critical reading and writing, mathematics, and sciences as well as English language acquisition support, tutoring, mentoring, and counseling where appropriate. Penn State’s Upward Bound Migrant program serves students from Hazleton, Lebanon, and Reading School Districts. http://equity.psu.edu/ubm
Equal Opportunity Planning Committee grants provide central funding to support a number of outreach programs throughout Penn State. Lists of funded programs are available at http://www.equity.psu.edu/eopc/programs.asp
Additionally, there are outreach programs based in the colleges. For example, the Summer College Opportunity Program in Education (S.C.O.P.E.) is a four week academic intensive program for high school sophomores from multicultural backgrounds interested in a career in teaching, counseling, special education, rehabilitation, or educational administration during which students: Live on Penn State's main campus in University Park; Take college courses; Prepare for the SAT; Learn time management and other study skills. http://ed.psu.edu/multicultural-programs/summer-program


A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

Information on scholarships can be found on the Office of Student Aid's website: http://studentaid.psu.edu/types-of-aid/scholarships/university-wide and the Educational Equity website http://equity.psu.edu/giving These include:

Bunton-Waller Scholarships: Full-time students in resident instruction who have the highest financial need are considered for the Bunton-Waller Scholarship. The annual award is $3200, renewable for up to four years, provided the student maintains a 2.50 GPA.

The Renaissance Fund, created in 1969, continues to provide scholarship support to “the brightest of the neediest” students. Approximately 550 students with significant financial need are awarded a Renaissance Scholarship each year.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees established the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program for low-income students. Approximately 5,700 students receive a Trustee Scholarship each year – all with significant financial need and many from underrepresented populations and/or those who are the first generation in their family to attend college.

The recently completed "For the Future: Campaign for Penn State Students" development campaign sought to help alleviate the amount of debt that many students must incur for a Penn State education. Overall, more than 603,000 donors collectively made more than 2.1 billion in gifts to the University-wide effort, including approximately $519 million pledged for undergraduate student scholarships, the top priority of the campaign.

The Brook J. Lenfest Trustee Scholarship Program reaches approximately 80 students from selected Philadelphia public high schools to provide significant support for tuition, fees, room, and meals.

Educational Equity administers scholarships that support low-income, first-generation students. A full time development officer and an Educational Equity development advisory board are dedicated to securing donations for diversity scholarships. http://equity.psu.edu/giving
Additional need-based scholarships are available through the student’s college or campus.

A portion of University Provost Awards are targeted specifically for academically talented high-need students.


A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

As part of its land-grant university mission, Penn State is committed to providing access and retention to low-income Pennsylvania students through the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP). The program provides an alternative admission opportunity for entering freshmen who are PA residents, and who meet family income criteria. In addition to providing an offer of enrollment to Penn State, these programs provide diagnostic and placement services in the basic skill courses of English, math, and reading, as needed by the student.

Penn State Recruitment Centers are based in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC. They provide information sessions and individual counseling to prospective students and families about Penn State academic programs, admissions procedures, student financial aid and other services. While not specifically targeted to prospective students from low-income backgrounds, the centers maintain a relationship with Educational Equity and are equipped to assist low-income prospective students with information about financial aid and available support programs for which they may be eligible.

Spend a Summer Day is a campus open house for Prospective First Year Students to learn about admissions, academics, and student life at Penn State. Prospective students and their families are invited to join us at any of our 20 undergraduate campuses. Bus trips are organized from urban areas to assist families for whom transportation would be a difficulty. http://admissions.psu.edu/sasd/

The Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (SMART) assists the Office of Undergraduate Admissions with the recruitment and retention of underrepresented student populations at the Pennsylvania State University. Through the use of campus recruitment trips, tours, student panels and overnight visits, SMART relies on the experiences of students at the University Park Campus to provide prospective students with an accurate and positive portrayal of campus life. SMART members are living and walking examples of success stories of underrepresented students’ here Penn State.

During Achiever's Weekend, high achieving, academically eligible, students with offers of admission are invited to participate in a purposeful weekend in which students can meet current students, faculty, staff and alumni. Ultimately, Achiever's Weekend helps students make an informed decision about attending Penn State. Underrepresented minority students are targeted.

Penn State’s Micro-Scholarship program RAISE.ME motivates students to achieve goals that will foster their development as well-rounded young adults and, at the same time, increase their admission chances when applying to colleges. The main motivational tool is “Micro-Scholarships” – college scholarship money that is awarded to students each time they achieve a small but important goal in high school, such as getting an “A” in a course, or taking the PSAT or ACT. Penn State is engaging five high schools in the Philadelphia area as a pilot of this program

Every fall semester, minority high school students are invited to attend Spend a Fall Day at Penn State University Park, where they learn about Penn State's multicampus system. In addition to providing important application information, Spend a Fall Day also gives students an opportunity to interact with current undergraduates during a panel session and a tour in which S.M.A.R.T. students share their stories of success with the visitors. http://admissions.psu.edu/smart/about/

Other targeted recruitment efforts include the Educational Opportunity Center, Philadelphia http://equity.psu.edu/eocphila
Also, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math Science, Upward Bound Migrant, and Talent Search.


A brief description of the institution’s other policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

Penn State has established an emergency fund that is designed to provide temporary, short-term, financial assistance to students who are managing demanding academic requirements while struggling with debilitating financial circumstances. Provided in the form of one-time awards (typically not exceeding $1,000), emergency funding is not intended to provide ongoing relief for recurring expenses, and these awards are not loans that students are expected to repay. http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/familyservices/efunding_oview.shtml


Does the institution have policies and programs to support non-traditional students?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

A number of scholarships and other types of financial aid are available to adult students, many of whom attend part-time.

Adult students seeking an associate or bachelor's degree and carrying six credits each semester are encouraged to apply for the Osher Reentry Scholarship, the Fischer Family Scholarship, and the Curtis Memorial Scholarship by completing the FAFSA and the online scholarship application form. http://adultlearner.psu.edu/finance-your-education

The State College Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) awarded four scholarships to undergraduate female adult learners in the 2016-2017 academic year. http://www.aauwstatecollege.org/scholarships.htmland have graduated from a high school in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

The Fund for Adult Continuing Education Support (FACES) is supported by Continuing Education employees and former and current students who are dedicated to helping adult learners in Continuing Education programs succeed through supplemental financial support for books, tuition, or other emergency needs.

The Adult Learner Opportunity Fund managed by the Office of Student Affairs provides financial support for non-traditional aged students pursuing their undergraduate degree at University Park. http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/adults/giveto.shtml


A brief description of the institution’s on-site child care facility, partnership with a local facility, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

Penn State's Office of Human Resources offers a child care subsidy program for qualifying low-income undergraduate student parents enrolled in a degree program at all 24 Penn State University locations. Funding for graduate student families is available at the University Park campus location. Information is available at: http://ohr.psu.edu/child-care-subsidy/.
There are two child care facilities located on the core University Park campus: the Bennett Family Center and the Child Care Center at Hort Woods. Fees for care are on a sliding fee scale based on household income. In addition, the facilities serve student parents who receive UPAC or CCAMPIS grant funds for child care as well as low-income families eligible for child care assistance through the Department of Public Welfare and Child Care Information Services of Centre County. These child care centers are both managed by Penn State.

A third day care center, Daybridge Child Development Center, is located in Innovation Park, a 118-acre business park operated by Penn State, located several miles from the core campus. This Center is operated in partnership with Penn State by an independent contractor.

In October 2013 President Erickson commissioned a Presidential Task Force on Child Care at Penn State, which produced a March 2014 report that recommended, among other things, providing additional funds for lower-income student family support.

The Office of Human Resources maintains a website with information on child care resources in the area: http://ohr.psu.edu/employee-and-family-resources/your-family/child-care-resources/


A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

The Office of Student Affairs provides online resources for Adult Students: http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/adults/ and has produced an Adult Learner Handbook http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/adults/pdf/adult_learner_guide.pdf Continuing Education provides information for adult students on their website: http://ceup.psu.edu/ They also provide various other resources through an adult student support team, including career fairs, a program "Transitions: College and Career Prep", a free math improvement course, and access to one-on-one academic advising, career counseling, and financial aid counseling. http://ceup.psu.edu/events-workshops
In 2015, the Commission for Adult Learners sponsored the creation of the Penn State Financial Literacy Website which was successfully launched in May of that year. The website includes information on budgeting, student loans, debt/ financial management, saving/ investing, and self-study modules that are applicable to all students.


Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (tracking accessibility and affordability)? (If data is not available, select 'No'):
Yes

The percentage of entering students that are low-income (0-100):
16

The graduation/success rate for low-income students (0-100):
78.30

On average, the percentage of need that was met for students who were awarded any need-based aid (e.g. as reported to the U.S. Common Data Set initiative, item H2) (0-100):
59

The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt or for whom no out-of-pocket tuition is required (i.e. the percentage of graduates who have not taken out interest-bearing loans) (0-100):
45

Estimated percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students (0-100):
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.