University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania Enrollment and Financial Aid Info

The University of Pennsylvania is a 4-year non-profit private university located in Philadelphia that offers degrees in a wide range of subjects. Read about the pros and cons of the school, plus ranking, tuition and admission information.

Is the University of Pennsylvania the School for You?

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) is located in downtown Philadelphia. It is a private non-profit university with 4 undergraduate schools and 12 graduate schools that offers degree programs at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels. Read about the pros and cons of attending, tuition, financial aid and student life information to see if U Penn is right for you.


  • Ranked #8 among national universities
  • 4-year graduation rate is 48% higher than the national average
  • Low student-faculty ratio
  • Average student debt following graduation is about $9,000 less than the average


  • Total cost is $19,389 more than the average for 4-year private non-profit universities
  • Acceptance rate is 53.5% lower than average

Rankings and School Analysis

The University of Pennsylvania is one of the Top 10 national universities according to US News and World Report in 2012. The school's website mentions 149 research centers and institutes, and 19 libraries with more than 6 million books. You will enjoy a low student-faculty ratio of just 6 to 1, as opposed to that national average of 16 to 1. In fact, 71.5% of your classes will have 20 or fewer students, meaning you have a better chance of individual attention from the professor if you need it. In addition, TAs make up only 1.8% of the instructors, so most of your instruction will come from the professors themselves. The graduation rate is significantly higher than the national average: 88% of undergraduate students graduate within 4 years, and 95% are finished within 6 years.

While the total cost - which includes tuition, fees and living expenses - is high at $57,360, there is a good chance that your debt at graduation will be lower than the national average. The 12% acceptance rate can be daunting, however, especially when seen next to the national average of 65.5%. The student body is diverse, with no racial or ethnic group making up more than 50% of the student population.

There are 4 undergraduate colleges at U Penn. In addition to the College at Penn, (also called the School of Arts and Sciences), there is a School of Engineering and Applied Science, a Nursing School and the Wharton School. If you're interested in studying business, you may want to consider U Penn. The Wharton School is best known for its MBA program, which is ranked #1 by US News and World Report, but it also offers an undergraduate degree, which is also in the #1 spot for undergraduate business programs.

U Penn is located in Philadelphia, so you will have plenty to occupy you when you aren't studying. When it's time to go home, or just get away, it's not far from an international airport and near an Amtrak train station.

Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Pennsylvania

As noted above, U Penn is a highly competitive school with a low acceptance rate. If you're certain about attending U Penn, you can apply for an early decision. The deadline is November 1, while the regular application deadline is January 1. To apply, you will submit both the common application and a supplemental application along with SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts and 2 academic letters of recommendation from teachers. If you're planning to attend a dual-degree program, or trying to get into a specialized or accelerated program, there may be other applications required. For example, if you're applying to the 7-year dental program, you'll need to submit an application specifically for that program in addition to the standard application requirements. The application fee of $75 will be waived if you can prove that you can't pay it without incurring financial hardship.

As you would expect from a selective school, high school GPAs and standardized test scores are high. The freshmen class of Fall 2011 had an average high school GPA of 3.9, and 96% of them were in the top 10% of their high school class. For the 86% of students who submitted the SAT, they had an average critical reading score of 704, an average math score of 726 and an average writing score of 717. The 37% of students who submitted the ACT had an average composite score of 31.

If you apply for early admission, you will find out if you've been accepted by December 12. Otherwise, you'll find out on March 28.

You should plan to submit your Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 15. According to US News and World Report in 2011, 100% of students had their financial aid needs fully met with an average financial aid package of close to $40,000. As a graduate of U Penn, you're likely looking at an average debt of $17,891. Per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 1.7% of students defaulted on their student loans.

Application and Tuition Info
Regular Application Deadline (2013) January 1***
Financial Aid Priority Application Deadline (2011) February 15**
Admission Notification Date (2013) March 28***
Application Fee (2013) $75***
Acceptance Rate (2011) 12%*
All Tuition & Living Expenses (2011-2012) $57,360*
Average Financial Aid Package (2011) $38,596**
Percent of Students with Need Met (2011) 100%**
Average Student Debt at Graduation (2011) $17,891****
Student Loan Default Rate (2009) 1.7%*

Life at the University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia boasts a large number of museums and other cultural attractions, including historical sites. If you enjoy museums, it's good to know that U Penn is the site of the Archeological and Anthropology Museum in Philadelphia. Among the 19 libraries, you'll find a number of specialized collections. There is a library dedicated to math, physics and astronomy, as well as a music library, a library for Judaic studies and a library for rare books and manuscripts. Contained within the libraries, you'll find collections for such diverse topics as medieval studies, popular culture and food.

In 2011, according to NCES, there were almost 12,000 undergraduates at Penn. Men and women were about evenly split, with women making up 4 percentage points more of the student population than men. The school is diverse, with 48% of students being reported as white and 17% being reported as Asian. If you want to branch out and meet people, Greek life is robust at U Penn: 30% of men and 27% of women join a fraternity or sorority. If the life of a pledge isn't for you, but you still want to get involved, you'll have more than 300 clubs and organizations from which to choose.

On-campus housing is provided in 2 high-rise buildings and 11 college houses. Safety is provided by the Penn Police, which offers a 24/7 walking escort service. If you're having trouble transitioning to college or otherwise coping with life, counseling services are offered. Academic help is available if you need it, including mentoring programs, tutoring and an academic resource center.

Student Life Info
Campus Setting Large city*
Student Population (2011) 11,765 undergraduates
13,067 graduate students*
Male-to-Female Student Ratio (2011) 48% to 52%*
% of Full Time Students (2011) 88%*
% of International Students (2011) 11%**
Retention Rate (2011) 97%*
Campus Housing Available Yes*
% of Students Living on Campus 56%**
Number of Libraries 19***
Extracurricular Activities 350**
Noteworthy Archeological and Anthrolpology Museum
Research Hospital***

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **US News and World Report, ***University of Pennsylvania, ****College Board.

Contact Info

  • Address: Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 1 College Hall, Room 1, Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Phone: (215) 898-7507