Penn First Plus Fall 2020 FAQs

P1P logoThe Provost’s Office recognizes that the upcoming fall semester will present a myriad of questions for undergraduate students who are first-generation and/or lower-income. The following notes cover the topics that are considered most pressing, and will be updated as more information about the fall becomes available. Questions not covered here can be referred to

  • First, consult with your academic advisor regarding fall course formats and potential changes to scheduling if your residency situation may require schedule changes. These changes may affect academic progress.

  • While you discuss changes to your fall schedule with your advisor, know that faculty will be provided with advice on how to be inclusive of P1P students while teaching online.

  • The Office of Financial Aid will be recalculating awards according to whether or not a student is approved to remain on-campus, deciding to live in an off-campus apartment, or studying from their permanent address. Because we know that these messages are sometimes filtered, please check your spam folders and review the instructions carefully.

  • Priority to return to campus will be given to incoming first-year students, returning second-year students. Juniors and Seniors who may struggle with needs insecurity were also given priority, based on information shared with us during the Spring depopulation of campus. If your situation has changed and you have not been notified of your approval to remain on-campus, please contact

  • For students who return to campus, there will be careful, socially-distanced access to campus computing resources, which includes computer labs, private study rooms, and loaner laptops. Students who have technology needs that emerged over the summer should apply to the Emergency and Opportunity Fund, which is reviewed by Student Intervention Services, Financial Aid, and Penn First Plus. Decisions will be made based on personal financial situation and campus housing status.

Financial Aid

Will pricing be changed for tuition and fees?

As the university has made a substantial investment in technology and resources to promote equitable, high-quality remote engagement with campus learning and resource experiences, tuition and fees will remain the same

Will there be additional aid for students given limited summer work?

Penn has already waived the summer earnings expectation for all students who applied for financial aid and replaced it with grant funding in recognition of the current, difficult circumstances.

Because there are three different living scenarios for Fall 2020, aid packages will reflect the variance in personal/commuting costs and should be used for covering the cost of internet.

Allowances for textbooks and other course materials will not be reduced. Through the Center for Teaching and Learning as well as meetings with faculty, we are reminding the teaching community of the importance of keeping course costs low – particularly in the current moment – when we are all incurring unexpected expenses.

Students whose financial situations have changed due to the pandemic should consult their Financial Aid Advisor about applying for reevaluation.

Will Work Study change in any way?

Work study will remain in place, and students should be sure to locate positions that match their decision as to whether or not they will be in Philadelphia. Ask hiring managers directly to be sure they have options for remote work.

Students whose Spring 2020 work study positions are no longer available or cannot be accomplished remotely should apply for those roles that are posted on the student employment website:

Will there be access codes for electronic texts available from Penn First Plus?

Yes. The exact courses are still to be determined as faculty finalize their fall plans for course content.

Penn Libraries is also working to have as many texts as possible available electronically.

Housing and Dining

Note: Initially, highly aided students were not given access to the housing preference questionnaire. This omission was unintentional, as highly aided students have been given priority for housing. That survey will now be made available on Wednesday, July 1. Please check your email for deadlines.

What will financial aid for housing look like in the fall?

Student choices regarding their housing and dining plans will be factored into their cost of attendance and aid awards accordingly.

Aid for housing will match the cost of the on-campus/master lease rate, which will be the same for all housing selections in 2020-2021. Whether in Penn-owned or leased housing, all utilities are included in the charged fees.

Aid for off-campus housing will be the same as previously calculated, and will cover the full academic year (9 months). Students living off-campus can decide whether they want to leave campus at Thanksgiving or remain through the end of the calendar year.

Because we cannot guarantee students’ their original housing assignment nor new housing preferences, students have until the end of July to cancel their housing contracts and avoid a penalty fee. By that time, your Fall 2020 assignment will be available to inform your choice.

Students living on-campus will be asked to return home to live with their families after Thanksgiving until the beginning of the spring semester. Penn is not able to provide funding during this period of time to cover the costs of temporary rent or a sublet, but we do expect to provide additional funding for food and some personal expenses to highly aided students.

What will financial aid for dining look like in the fall?

All students will be awarded aid for dining expenses, though that aid will vary based on whether they live at home, on-campus, are on meal plan, or live off-campus.
Highly aided students may be provided with an additional grant to cover the extended break.

Will shuttles still operate to grocery stores?

Yes. Please visit Transportation and Parking’s website for details on scheduling changes. There is also an app available for download. The FGLI Program’s student leadership will also be cultivating an updated resource guide for students.

Will there be additional on-campus housing in the Spring?

Given the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, we cannot predict whether or not additional spaces will open in on-campus housing for the Spring.

What will move-in look like?

Assistance for move-in, big box store visits, and other Welcome Back/New Student Orientation activities are still being updated to accommodate social distancing protocols. Move-in will also be on a staggered schedule. More information will be released in the coming weeks.

Winter Housing

Will winter housing be available?

Yes, per the Fall Planning website:

Will there be aid for winter housing?

Until we know more about how many students are deciding to return to Philadelphia, many details about winter break housing remain unanswered. We expect to have more information on that process and support for students needing support over winter break soon.

Travel Funding

Will there be financial support for travel to and from campus?

The cost of round-trip travel to and from campus is already included in the cost of attendance and accounted for in financial aid packages for domestic students. Additional funding will not be available at Thanksgiving, so be sure to plan for this travel when you receive your initial financial aid package. You can see travel funding reflected in your personal cost of attendance on Penn InTouch, and you can read about the three standard travel amounts on the SRFS website (scroll down to the explanatory text on Transportation):

International highly aided students should reach out to their Financial Aid Advisor to discuss booking travel. All international students should consult the latest travel guidance from their governments and ISSS.


Will all courses be online?

Faculty are still deciding their course formats and should be consulted regarding whether or not they will offer in-person instruction. Students who have concerns about fall courses and/or the need to take a leave from Penn given those concerns should contact their academic advisor.

Labs, recitation, and other pedagogical arenas that have typically involved significant in-person engagement are still being reformatted at this time – please contact the instructor or department for more information.

Will the Library and other study spaces be available?

Yes, though capacity will be changing to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Please note that the Penn First Plus office, located on the ground floor of College Hall, will be open this fall with reservable study rooms.

Will the Penn Bookstore be open? If not, what are shipping times?

According to the Penn Bookstore website (as of July 1), it is likely they will open in the fall and align their practices with the Campus Compact. Shipping times, per said website are 1-2 days.

International Students with Visa Concerns

Incoming Students

Incoming students should consult the following FAQ:

Returning Students

Returning students should consult the following FAQ: