Financial Aid

Students are often awarded Teaching or Research Assistantships through the Department of Plant Science. Tuition and fees are waived for students who receive assistantships.

Graduate Assistant Half-Time-2016/2017

The current rates¹ of the assistantships are:
M.S. & Ph D Students:
Grade 12 $9,517.50/semester
$6,345 (summer session)
¹Last updated February 23, 2017

Summer Session

If Graduate Students need to be registered during the summer, they can apply for “Summer Tuition Assistance” (STAP) from the Graduate School (if they’ve been appointed on an assistantship for two consecutive semesters). If a student does not need to be registered, the student’s advisor is responsible for putting the student on wage payroll and paying the student's wages equivalent to the above summer assistantship amount.


Students who are U.S. citizens may also be eligible for Federal Student Aid programs such as Perkins Loans or Stafford Loans. For more information on obtaining loans go to:

Housing Costs:

Graduate Students may choose to live on or off campus.

On-Campus Housing:

Penn State supplies on-campus housing options for graduate students.

White Course Apartments

White Course Apartments provides a unique environment for full-time graduates — singles, couples, and families. A supportive staff and an excellent safety/security program help to make graduate life easier and more comfortable. Special activities and programs help residents get to know one another — and form friendships that will last a lifetime.

Information on the current rates for on-campus housing and meal plans can be found at:

Off-Campus Housing:

Many graduate students live in off-campus housing such as apartments, townhomes and houses. If you are interested in off-campus housing, it is best to look early (spring or early summer) as housing goes fairly quickly.

Most off-campus housing does not include utilities in the monthly rent. This can increase the monthly living expenses significantly. When searching for housing it is often good to inquire about which utilities, if any, are included.

A great source for off-campus information is the university Off-Campus Living Web site. The Web site includes postings about rooms for rent as well as a links to realtors and apartment complexes in the State College area.

Taxes and Health Insurance Pay Deductions:


One misconception of many entering students is that they will not be taxed on their assistantships or fellowships. This unfortunately, is not the case. Both the Federal government and Pennsylvania consider fellowship and assistantship stipends as taxable income.

Good News! The tuition waiver is considered non-taxable income.

All students (including international students) pay federal, state and local taxes each pay period. Students who are U.S. citizens also pay Social Security and Medicare (F.I.C.A.) taxes each pay period. More Good News! Beginning in July 2000, all stipends from assistantships and fellowships are exempt from F.I.C.A. taxes.

Some states have a reciprocal tax agreement with the state of PA. These include: MD, IN, NJ, OH, VA, and WV.

All students must also pay local taxes, which include:

  • Occupational Privilege Tax
  • Occupational Assessment Tax
  • Local Wage Tax

For more information of the types of taxes and how to determine exemption refer to the GSA tax guide. Copies of the tax guide are available in 111B Kern Building. More information is available on the Graduate Student Association of Penn State Web site.

International Students can learn about tax treaties and other tax alleviations through the International Student Office at +1-814-865-6348.

Health Insurance:

All Penn State Graduate Students are required to have health insurance. Students are automatically enrolled in the University Health Insurance plan unless they can prove they have equal of better insurance.

For more information on University Health Insurance contact the Student Insurance Office at +1-814-865-7467.