Financial Aid and Scholarships

PAFA's FAFSA Code is 014653

Financial aid is PAFA’s investment in you: our students, our community, and our next generation of young artists.

If you believe you will need financial assistance to support your studies at PAFA, we strongly encourage you to apply for financial aid. It is our unwavering commitment to support talented students—through scholarships, certainly—but also by helping students and families to discover the financial support that is available. We will do everything possible to invest our resources in you.

This page is a great place to begin. The information here starts to explain the process of receiving financial aid, including specific grants, loans, and scholarships. When you’re ready, arrange an appointment with our financial aid office. We’ll work together to decide if studying at PAFA is the right decision for you.


To support an exceptional community of students, scholarship support is an Admissions priority. PAFA scholarships are awarded to applicants exhibiting artistic and academic merit. Additionally, PAFA generously supports distinguished awards and prestigious scholarship competitions for the benefit of our students. These awards are designed to reward talent and achievement.

Donald R. Caldwell Scholarship
This full-tuition scholarship opportunity is for incoming Certificate and BFA students. Based on the merits of their portfolio, Caldwell Scholarship nominees will be sent a Challenge Portfolio to complete and return. A limited number of Caldwell Scholars are selected each year, based on the artworks submitted. The Caldwell Scholarship is named in honor of Donald R. Caldwell, Chair Emeritus of PAFA’s Board of Trustees and a major supporter of the School of Fine Arts.

Maguire Scholars Program
The Maguire Scholars Program is named in honor of, and with generous support from, James J. and Frances M. Maguire and family. Maguire Scholars are selected from PAFA's BFA application pool on the basis of artistic merit and financial need. At the time of admission, nominees for the Maguire Scholarship will be sent a Challenge Portfolio assignment to complete and return. Candidates for the Maguire Scholars Program must apply for financial aid before the postmarked deadline.

The Maguire Foundation provides “Last Dollar Scholarship” support for students from Maguire Scholars’ Program High Schools. Recipients are selected by PAFA on the basis of academic strength and financial need, and must remain in good academic standing while actively participating in PAFA’s community, volunteer, and extra-curricular activities.  A full list of participating Maguire Scholars’ Program High Schools can be found here.

James J. & Frances M. Maguire Scholarship for Artistic Excellence
This is a full-tuition scholarship entering PAFA between 2015 and 2018. Three students will be awarded the inaugural James J. & Frances M. Maguire Scholarships to commence studies at PAFA in the fall of 2015. Three additional scholarships will be awarded to students entering in 2016 and 2017, and two more will follow in  2018, for a total of 11 recipients who will receive these awards through their graduation in the 2021-22 academic year.

The Trustee Scholarship
A Trustee Scholarship will be awarded to a new Master of Fine Arts student in Fall 2014, and will be a full-tuition scholarship awarded based upon merit.  The faculty admissions committee will choose the recipient at the time of the MFA review for admission.  All students who are admitted to the program will be in consideration for this Trustee Scholarship.

Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship
This scholarship is available to students who graduate from Pittsburgh Public school and who live in the City of Pittsburgh, regardless of financial need or income. Students can earn up to a $40,000 award that will be paid over four years. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must maintain a GPA of 2.5, maintain a minimum attendance record of 90%, and attend any accredited public or private post-secondary school located in Pennsylvania. Please visit for instructions on how to apply.

Selma Burke Scholarship
This scholarship, covering the full cost of tuition, is awarded to one newly-enrolling African American student in PAFA’s Certificate or BFA program. This scholarship celebrates the legacy of Selma Burke, African American sculptor and art educator, whose sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is believed to be the inspiration for John R. Sinnock’s design of the United States dime. One Selma Burke Scholarship is awarded, alternatingly, every two years.

Alumni Scholarship
Alumni Scholarship candidates must be referred to the school’s Certificate, BFA, MFA, or Post Baccalaureate programs by a PAFA alum. Applicants should submit PAFA’s Alumni Scholarship Nomination Form to the Office of Admissions by the postmarked deadline. In addition to nominating the student, this form will exempt the referred applicant from PAFA's application fee.

This scholarship is intended to recognize talented students who are encouraged to study at PAFA through relationships with our Alumni. To learn more about PAFA’s Alumni Scholarship, please contact PAFA’s Office of Admissions at 215-972-7625 or

Community College Connection Scholarships
These scholarships, in the amount of $1,000-$6,000 per year, are intended to strengthen PAFA’s relationship with Community Colleges throughout the country. They are established in conjunction with formalized transfer agreements. Currently, PAFA supports Connection Scholarships with the following institutions:

  • Atlantic Cape Community College
  • Camden County Community College
  • Montgomery County Community College
  • Northampton Community College
  • Community College of Philadelphia

If your school is not listed here, please contact our Office of Admissions to discuss the formalization of a transfer agreement.

Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships
PAFA sponsors scholarships for student members of Phi Theta Kappa. These awards are based on academic success, and the award range is dependent upon a complete review of the student's application materials. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required and the student must have a minimum of 15.5 credit hours completed. This award is open to both US & Non-US Citizens. Part-time students and students with a previous bachelor’s degree are ineligible for this award.

International Student Scholarships
PAFA offers these scholarships on the basis of artistic and academic merit. They are intended to assist students studying from abroad who are not eligible for federal aid. These awards typically range up to $5,000 annually and are not intended to cover the full costs of tuition and expenses.

Next Step Scholarships
These scholarships are available to students entering the Certificate and BFA programs who have completed PAFA’s Summer Academy program. Typically, these awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

Richard E. and Diane Dalto Woosnam Scholarship
The Richard E. and Diane Dalto Woosnam Scholarship is a four-year award in the amount of $1,500 per year. This scholarship may be awarded to any incoming student in PAFA's Certificate, BFA, MFA, or Post Baccalaureate programs.

The Thomas Jefferson Scholarship
This scholarship is designated for newly enrolling MFA students. Named after our nation’s third president, whose time in Philadelphia altered the course of our nation, this award is intended to support students who will bring talent and leadership to our graduate community. The amount of this award changes annually.

Applying for Aid

In the world of financial assistance, there are no mysteries. These are the steps that every student must follow to apply for need-based aid. Be sure to pay close attention to deadlines and always ask questions if you feel uncertain.

To apply for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students and families should submit their FAFSA online at PAFA’s FAFSA Code is 014653. The priority deadline is March 1. We recommend that you begin this process as soon as possible.

Once your FAFSA is complete, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The Student Aid Report is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Review the information and, if it is correct, retain it for your records. If you need to make corrections, apply them to part 2 of the SAR and re-submit the correct information.

You will receive a Financial Aid Award Letter. Once PAFA receives your Student Aid Report, our Office of Financial Aid will generate your financial aid Award Letter. This letter will outline your financial aid package, including scholarships, grants and federal student loans. Return the signed award letter only if you are declining part of the award.

Apply for Loans. If you choose to borrow from the Federal Stafford Loan Program, you will need to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete entrance counseling. These may be found online here.

Students and families who wish to apply for a Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS Loan should complete the PLUS Loan application in addition to a Master Promissory Note. Apply online at  

You may be selected for verification. Every year, students are randomly selected for verification by the federal government. If you are selected, a verification worksheet will be mailed to you. You will need to submit documentation in support of your FAFSA information, and any inconsistencies may change or forfeit your financial aid award.

Throughout this process, we are here to help you. If you have any questions or concerns, contact our Office of Financial Aid at 215-972-2019 or

International Students

Students studying from abroad bring a rich and varied skill-set to our classrooms, enriching and diversifying PAFA’s community. It is important that international students consider their studies realistically. As an International Student, it is required that you exhibit the ability to finance your education in the United States. PAFA offers partial scholarships for students from abroad. Our International Student Scholarships are intended to offset the financial burden of studying without federal aid. However, it is important to know that these awards are not intended to cover the full cost of tuition.

In many cases, international students will need to seek out additional resources to obtain supplemental funds. The website offers information about many issues for international students, including financial support. Additionally, loans are now becoming available for international students, particularly if you have an American citizen who will co-sign for you. International students are not required to submit a FAFSA, but will automatically be considered for merit-based and international scholarship support.

Financial Aid Resources

Higher Education Services (HES). PAFA helps students to afford the expense of higher education by conserving their savings and limiting their borrowing. For this reason, an interest-free monthly payment option is offered, allowing students to spread expenses over the academic year. Costs may be divided into ten equal, monthly payments without interest. This will enable the student to budget manageably. The cost of this monthly payment option is an annual $65.00 enrollment fee. This includes automatic life insurance, which covers the unpaid balance of the student’s annual budget. All students are eligible for this option regardless of their qualifications for financial aid. Click here for the Higher Education Services website

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Phone Numbers and Websites:

PAFA’s Financial Aid Office: 215-972-2019
Federal Student Aid Programs: 1-800-4-FED-AID
PHEAA State Grants: 1-800-692-7392 or
FastWeb Scholarship Search:
SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid:
College Board Online:
7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA

Types of Financial Aid

The following forms of financial aid are available for students. Be mindful that students must adhere to the published deadlines to receive full consideration for financial aid. It is advisable to apply early to ensure that deadlines are met. If you are a new student applying to PAFA, March 1 is the priority deadline for financial assistance. Make sure that you follow instructions to avoid any delays in processing.

Institutional Aid

PAFA Scholarships are awarded to assist in the cost of education for full-time, matriculated students who meet eligibility requirements. Awards will be applied to your tuition account. To apply for assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The annual application deadline is March 1 for new applicants and April 1 for returning students.

Merit Scholarships (BFA and Certificate Programs)

The Admissions Committee awards merit scholarships based on review scores of the applicant’s portfolio. Scholarships are awarded to the highest-ranking portfolios.

Merit Scholarships (MFA and Post Baccalaureate Programs)

The Graduate Admissions Review Committee awards partial merit scholarships to the highest-rated portfolios from the applicant pool each year. To be eligible, applicants must submit their completed application and portfolio before the application deadline.

Federal College Work Study

The Federal College Work Study Program (FCWS) provides funding for jobs for students who meet eligibility requirements. Students work within the institution and are paid on an hourly basis. FCWS is NOT applied to your tuition account. Application and deadline requirements are the same as above.

Federal Pell Grant (Undergraduate)

The Federal Pell Grant is for undergraduate students who do not have a bachelor’s degree and who meet federal eligibility requirements. The grant does not have to be repaid and will be applied to your tuition account. To apply for the Federal Pell Grant, students must complete the FAFSA form.

PHEAA State Grant (Undergraduate)

The PHEAA State Grant is for undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s degree and are residents of Pennsylvania. Students must meet state eligibility requirements. The grant does not have to be repaid and will be applied to the student’s tuition account. The PHEAA application deadline is May 1.

FSEOG (Undergraduate)

The FSEOG Grant is for undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s degree and who demonstrate exceptional need which is based on the FAFSA information received. Priority is given to students who receive Pell Grants. The grant does not have to be repaid and will be applied to your tuition account.

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan

This is a federal need-based loan that a student may borrow to help with the cost of education. The maximum loan amount increases as your grade level changes. The federal government will subsidize or pay the interest for you as long as you enroll in at least six credits each semester. Once you complete your program, drop below half-time or take a leave of absence or withdraw, there is a six-month grace period during which the government will continue to pay the interest. At the end of the grace period, you are required to start interest and principal payments. The interest rate will be fixed at 6.0% beginning July 1, 2008. A separate Master Promissory Note (MPN) must be submitted to AES/PHEAA before the loan can be processed.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

This is a federal non need-based loan that a student may borrow to help with the cost of education. The maximum loan amount increases as your grade level changes. The federal government will not pay the interest on this loan. You may either pay the interest while enrolled in school or you may defer it, but the interest will accrue. You must enroll in at least six credits for each semester. Once you complete your program, drop below half-time, or if you need to take a leave of absence or withdraw, you will have a six-month grace period of the principal during which time the interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the grace period you are required to start interest and principal payments. The interest rate is fixed at 6.8% beginning July 1, 2006.

Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan)

This is a loan that a parent may borrow on behalf of a dependent student enrolled in the Certificate or BFA program. The parent borrower is responsible to repay this loan and must complete an application and Master Promissory Note. For more information, please go to  

Graduate Student PLUS Loan (GradPLUS Loan)

The Graduate PLUS Loan is a low, fixed interest rate student loan guaranteed by the federal government. This loan is credit-based (not need-based) and carries the benefits of a low interest rate and a federal guarantee. The interest rate is fixed at 7.9% and a co-signer is not required. An application and Master Promissory Note must be completed at

Alternative or Private Loans

These loans are a last resort when additional funding is needed. A credit check is performed and a co-signer may be required. Students should research educational loans online to compare interest rates and repayment information.

Criteria for Aid

To receive aid from any of the above programs, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Show financial need (by submission of the FAFSA form)
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program
  • Have made academic progress