Welcome Back to Penn State World Campus

As a returning undergraduate student, you will need to complete several important steps prior to enrolling in and beginning your courses.

The steps listed on this page will help you get started, prepare for courses, and be aware of resources available to help you succeed. We’ve also included information about financial aid considerations and actions that are especially important for returning students.

Returning students are assigned an academic adviser to help with any questions about the actions on this list. Your adviser will help you navigate the University, understand your academic program, and choose courses. They will also be available to answer any questions that you have or direct you to the appropriate office or staff member who can answer.

Your academic experience is of paramount importance. If you experience challenges during your time as a Penn State World Campus student that impact your emotional well-being, review the mental health services available to you. You are encouraged to contact us for Care and Concern resources and assistance with any academic or personal situations that may impact your performance. Our office can advise you on your individual needs and help you balance your personal health with your academic pursuits.

Steps to Get Started and Prepare for Courses

Complete these tasks to begin using Penn State systems and resources and to enroll in and prepare for courses.

As a returning student, you will use the same Access Account that you used when you were previously enrolled. Your Access Account will be active again within 24 hours of when your re-enrollment is approved. If you are unable to log in to Penn State systems, please contact technical support.

Your Access Account allows you to access Penn State's online resources, including:

  • LionPATH — LionPATH is our web-based system in which you will complete many activities, such as registering for courses and accessing your academic and financial records.
  • Canvas — Canvas is our online course environment, where you will access your World Campus courses.
  • Penn State email account — You can access your Penn State email using the Outlook application in Office 365.

It is very important to begin checking your Penn State email account once you have access to it and check it frequently throughout your time as a student. To maintain privacy and security, Penn State staff will always use your Penn State email address to contact you.

You will also be required to use multifactor authentication when logging in to Penn State systems.

Orientation is a self-paced, noncredit course in Canvas, our learning management system. The course will take approximately 3–5 hours to complete. Please note that orientation does not take place at a specific time, nor do you need to complete it in a single session. You have the flexibility to access the material on your own schedule.

Canvas is the same system that you will use for your Penn State courses, which means that completing orientation will help you become familiar with the layout of your new learning environment. You can visit the Canvas orientation course to learn how to use the system.

Orientation will help you learn what to expect and how things work at Penn State World Campus, including courses, enrollment, billing, financial aid, student services, and more. Some things may be similar to when you were previously enrolled, but some things may have changed, and orientation will provide you with up-to-date information.

If less than a year has passed since your most recent enrollment, you will still have access to your previous New Student Orientation (NSO) course in Canvas, and you should review that course.

If it has been more than a year since your most recent enrollment, you can access the Returning Student Orientation course in Canvas.

For any questions about Returning Student Orientation, please contact [email protected].

If you earned credits from other institutions since your last enrollment at Penn State, your credits can be evaluated to see how they might apply to your degree requirements. You will need to ask the institution(s) you attended to send your transcript(s) to the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office at [email protected].

If you provide information about your transfer courses, a member of our Transfer Credit Services team will update your transfer credit check sheet with any applicable credits for you and your adviser to review. Note that this information could change based on the departmental evaluation of your transfer credits.

A syllabus for courses taken from the year 2000 to the current date may be required and will be noted on your Transfer Credit Evaluation letter from Undergraduate Admissions.

Send any requested syllabi via email to [email protected] or via postal mail to the Undergraduate Admissions Office at 201 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802. For questions about transfer credits or the syllabus requirement, please call Penn State Undergraduate Admissions at 814-865-5471.

You will be contacted by your academic adviser, who will give you specific information about your degree requirements, the use of any transfer credits you may have, and next steps to take to choose and enroll in courses.

Meeting with your academic adviser is an important step to help you get started. Our academic advising team will contact you within three weeks of your re-enrollment being approved to schedule an initial meeting. If you have any immediate questions or need assistance with appointment scheduling, you can also contact Advising at 814-863-3283.

Your adviser will help you select courses for your degree program, balancing your course load with other life responsibilities and priorities. If you have any questions about academic advising, please contact our Academic Advising team.

LionPATH is the system you will use to complete actions like registering for courses, receiving and paying your tuition bill, completing financial aid tasks, and accessing your academic record. If you’re not already familiar with LionPATH, you can review LionPATH tutorials to learn how to navigate and use the system.

Follow these steps to enroll in courses in LionPATH:

  1. Complete any items on your LionPATH “To Do List” and resolve any other holds on your account.
  2. Find your Enrollment Appointment Date, which is listed in the Enrollment Dates section in LionPATH.
  3. Once you have met with your academic adviser and your Enrollment Appointment Date has arrived, you can enroll in courses.

You can review Penn State’s registration timetable for more information about enrollment dates.

You can schedule most courses independently in LionPATH, but some courses may require adviser approval. Ask your adviser for assistance if you would like to schedule one of these courses.

To stay informed and receive important updates from Penn State World Campus, we recommend that you opt in to receive text messages. We send text messages with alerts and reminders about registration, deadlines, billing, and financial aid.

Penn State World Campus provides resources to help you be successful with your course work. Tutoring, exam preparation, writing support, and subject-area resources are available. Our Academic Success Kit includes modules covering skills that are applicable to all types of courses, such as using a course syllabus, note-taking, and time management.

Our military support team is ready to answer any questions you have. Learn more about our support services and financial aid for military and veteran students.

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable accommodations, contact our support team to learn more.

There are many ways to get involved — you can join one of many student organizations or connect with staff, faculty, and students through our events and online social media communities.

Get ready for courses by learning about textbooks and course materials, deadlines, technical support, and more. The Penn State IT Service Desk supports students with technical issues and provides minimum technical specifications for Penn State World Campus courses.

Steps to Apply for Financial Aid and Understand Requirements for Returning Students

Complete these tasks to learn what to expect and what will be required of you to receive financial aid.

Submit the FAFSA if you have not already done so. Be sure to submit the correct FAFSA for the academic year in which you plan to take classes. Review our guide to securing financial aid for more information.

The FAFSA is required for you to apply for federal, state, and University financial aid programs, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study arrangements. When submitting the FAFSA, note that Penn State’s federal school code is 003329.

Review the eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to receive federal financial aid, as well as the annual and lifetime limits. If you have received financial aid previously, you may be approaching these limits.

You can check your grant and loan history in the Manage Loans section on the Federal Student Aid website. You may not be eligible for additional federal student loans if you have reached the limit. Other funding options may include payment plans or alternative loans.

Even if you are close to or have reached a funding limit, we still encourage you to complete the FAFSA so that you can be considered for scholarships and other options.

If you have received federal financial aid in the past, have not reached your limit, and would like to receive aid for your upcoming Penn State World Campus courses, you must meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements to remain eligible. These requirements are outlined in our Keys to Financial Aid overview.

If you do not meet these requirements based on your previous enrollment record, you may submit an SAP appeal to request renewed financial aid eligibility. If you need more information about SAP requirements or how to submit an appeal, please contact our Financial Aid Office at 814-867-4244 or [email protected].

Penn State's award year starts with the fall semester and ends with the summer semester. Be aware that Penn State will initially offer you the maximum annual loan amount that you are eligible for, split between fall and spring if you are starting in the fall or applied only to spring if you are starting in the spring. If you plan to enroll in the summer semester, you may want to accept a lower amount for fall and/or spring to save the remaining amount for summer.