Parents & Families Weekend FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions. We will be adding additional information throughout the summer. If you have additional questions, please contact the Penn State Parents Program at email@example.com or 814-863-1313.
- What happens during Parents & Families Weekend?
With over 70 events, there is truly something for everyone. We will begin posting events in August and will continue to add events throughout the fall.
Here's a sneak peek at a few events (times to be shared in early August):
- Join us for the Ice Cream Social on Friday evening, continental breakfast on Saturday morning, and the Football Game Watch Party on Saturday.
- On Sunday, we will open the gates at Beaver Stadium for a peek and photo opportunity.
- There will be a professional photographer available at the Lion Shrine on Saturday and Sunday.
- These events are complimentary and do not require a ticket purchase or reservation.
There will be special tours including Old Main (free to attend, no tickets required) and Beaver Stadium (tickets are limited for the Beaver Stadium tour), housing sessions, student performances, academic events, and more hosted throughout the weekend. There will also be varsity athletic competitions and theater performances. You will see Penn State students' incredible talent and skills at almost every event hosted during the weekend. We will share ticketing, reservation, and other details throughout the summer.
- Where should we park?
Parking is free for registered guests (excluding the HUB Parking Deck). Registered guests received the ParkMobile code in their confirmation email. Parking is available in East, Nittany, Eisenhower, and West parking decks and the Stadium West and Jordan East lots. Visit map.psu.edu to locate parking areas.
Please refer to your event confirmation email for your parking code and instructions to reserve your free parking.
For ADA Parking: ADA Parking: Anyone with a redeemed pass through ParkMobile for the event can park in any ADA parking space in Faculty/Staff surface lots. Parking is also available at the HUB Deck for those with ADA placards, please see the Parents and Families Weekend desk for a coupon. Other campus decks are not available for additional ADA parking. No parking is allowed in student lots.
Contact the Penn State Parking Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-865-1436 for questions or issues.
- The HUB Parking Deck is $1.00/hour.
- Student Parking Lots are reserved seven days a week, 24 hours a day for exclusive use by students displaying the appropriate permit.
- Why should we attend Parents & Families Weekend?
Students are typically ready for a visit from home by this time in the semester. They may be tired and overwhelmed and in need of a little TLC (and, maybe cookies). They are also somewhat settled into their new "home" at Penn State and may be excited to share what they have discovered with you!
It's also a chance to experience something new at Penn State. Many of the events offered during Parents & Families Weekend are not frequently open to families and guests including tours of Old Main, Beaver Stadium, and the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor.
- When does registration begin? Is it required?
Registration for the 2023 Parents & Families Weekend will begin on Wednesday, August 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Registration is required. There is a $25 fee per family. Each family planning to participate will need to register.
- How do we register?
You will register yourself and your family in the Parent and Family Experience portal. We will share the link in August. Registration begins on Wednesday, August 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The deadline to register is September 21 at 6:00 p.m.
- Is there a fee to attend the event?
Yes, we charge $25 per family. This fee allows us to:
- Enhance the experience for families by providing free parking, improving the guest experience, and enriching non-ticketed events.
- The registration fee includes free parking at designated lots and parking decks, a registration packet with a collectible lanyard and name badge for each family member, a unique souvenir item, and other complimentary events.
- Additionally, the registration fee will provide additional buses (Blue and White Loops) which will reduce wait times and improve campus navigation during the event.
- Are there fee waivers for families of low-income students?
Yes, we are offering fee waivers for up to 80 families. The fee waivers are designed to provide assistance to families of students with financial need as demonstrated by their financial aid package.
NOTE: Our registration system does not allow guests to complete the registration process without paying the $25 registration fee. If your student is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant or low-income (Family EFC of $0) (you can ask your student to confirm this on their LionPATH page) and you would like to request a fee waiver, please contact the Parents Program office at email@example.com. After confirming your student’s enrollment, we will refund your $25. Please note that fee waivers are limited to the first 80 qualified families who request a waiver.
- We decided to come at the last minute, can we register in person?
- Yes, but we prefer that you register online prior to the September 21 deadline. This allows us to better plan for every family and ensures that you receive your complimentary parking code in advance of arriving on campus and email communications with important information regarding Parents and Families Weekend. Pre-registered guests will also receive information about events that require additional registration or ticket purchase. Many of these events sell out very quickly.
- There may be a limited number of registration packets available for onsite registrants. These will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registering by the September 21 deadline ensures a registration packet for your family.
- To register onsite, please come to the Parents and Families Weekend Information Desk at the HUB-Robeson Center. Parking will be a challenge during onsite registration. The HUB Parking Deck is available for $1.00/hour, but typically fills up early each day during the event. Other options include paying to park for a short time at East or Nittany Parking Decks and walking to the HUB. After registering, you will receive a parking code in your confirmation email. You can then reserve parking in an available parking location.
- Are families with divorced parents considered one family or two families?
Divorced parents/families have the option to submit together under one registration form or submit their registration forms separately. Please note, the $25 registration fee is applied to every registration submission. Therefore, if registering separately, each party will be charged the $25 registration fee. Students only need to be included on one registration form if registering separately.
- If registering as one family:
- There will only be one $25 registration fee. The fee includes parking for one vehicle and the ability to purchase only one Family Pride Pack. You can purchase an additional parking pass for $10 for a second vehicle and there will be a limited number of Family Pride Packs for sale at registration check-in during the weekend.
- If you register separately:
- There will be a separate $25 registration fee for each party registering. Each party will receive their own parking pass and can each purchase a Family Pride Pack. Your student only needs to be registered under one party, not both.
- If registering as one family:
- What day should we arrive? When do events begin and end?
Events typically begin after lunch on Friday and end at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Many families choose to come for the entire weekend, while others may drive in for a day (in that case, we would recommend Saturday). Some events only happen once, while other events such as the Beaver Stadium Tours are held multiple times throughout the weekend. The Off-Campus Housing Fair where you can explore off-campus housing options is hosted on Sunday only.
The complete schedule will be posted online by mid-August.
- Our plans have changed. Can we cancel our registration?
- If you cancel before September 5 at 5:00 p.m. ET, we are able to offer a 75% refund of your registration fee ($18.75)
- We are not able to provide a refund for cancelations after September 5.
- The refund policy applies to the registration fee and the Family Pride Pack.
- Can we bring other family members?
Yes, everyone is welcome. Family-friendly events will be hosted throughout the weekend. Keep in mind that Penn State is a large campus and you will be doing a lot of walking. There is ADA-compliant parking in all reservable parking locations. In most situations, you will not be able to park next to a building that is hosting the event and walking will be required. Comfortable shoes are a must.
The schedule of events will be shared on our website in August. At that time, you can view events and see what might appeal to your family.
- Any lodging recommendations?
University Park and the surrounding areas are popular places to visit and stay, especially on event weekends. Reserve accommodations early, especially for busy weekends including move-in and move-out, football games, Parents & Families Weekend, and Commencement.
- Penn State's hotel: The Penn Stater
- Happy Valley Adventure Bureau
- Bellefonte Lodging (30 minutes)
- Altoona Lodging (45 minutes)
Suggestions for busy times such as Parents and Families Weekend:
- Keep checking for availability. Schedules change and many families will cancel reservations prior to the weekend.
- Try non-traditional rentals including Airbnb, VRBO, and StateCations.
- Contact the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau: happyvalley.com or 814-231-1400
- Search outside of the State College area:
- From I-80 East (Northern New Jersey, New York, Long Island, etc.)
- Try Lock Haven, Lamar, and Bellefonte
- Camping/cabins: Bellefonte KOA; The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle
- From 322 South (Harrisburg, Philly Area, Lancaster, MD/VA/DC, etc.)
- Try Lewiston, Reedsville, Mifflintown, Boalsburg
- Camping/cabins: Aikens Cabins at Bear Meadows
- From 99 North (Pittsburgh, Ohio, etc.)
- Try Altoona, Philipsburg, Clearfield
- From I-80 East (Northern New Jersey, New York, Long Island, etc.)
- Why isn’t there a home football game?
Parents and Families Weekend focuses on you and your student's Penn State experience. The crowds and other activities during a football weekend would prevent us from hosting many of the events that families enjoy each year. There would also not be enough lodging and accommodations for both families and football fans. We will host a tailgate watch party in the HUB-Robeson Center.
- Where can we eat during Parents & Families Weekend?
We recommend planning at least one meal in your student’s favorite dining commons. Penn State typically offers family meal deals at all-you-care-to-eat buffets in many of our locations throughout the weekend.
Downtown State College and the surrounding areas offer a wide variety of wonderful restaurants. Parent volunteers in the bright green shirts will be happy to provide recommendations or you can visit the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau for options.
You won’t want to leave without getting ice cream at the Berkey Creamery.
- Will my student have classes on Friday of Parents and Families Weekend?
Yes, the University does not cancel classes for Parents & Families Weekend. However, you are welcome to enjoy the campus and any scheduled activities while they are in class.
Students may have exams and due dates the week following Parents and Families Weekend. Encourage your student to plan ahead so they can enjoy your visit.
- What about the weather?
We love weather at Penn State. In fact, our meteorology department is one of the best in the country!
The weather is typically beautiful with cooler days and lots of sunshine. Temps average in the 60s. We don't usually see snow until November or December, but bring an umbrella.
Here's a link to the Campus Weather Service to check out the forecast for the weekend.
- How can we get around campus during the weekend?
Hop-on/Hop-off Campus Trolley Service
8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Trolley Service around campus
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Tour guides will provide campus highlights
The Penn State Parents Program will provide free shuttle service around campus to guests attending Parents and Families Weekend via the Penn State Trolley. Shuttle service will run approximately every 15-20 minutes. Stops will be marked with a Parents and Families Weekend sign.
Trolley stops will be located at the following locations:
- Front of Thomas Building, along Pollock Road
- College Avenue/Allen Street (rear of CATA stop)
- Westgate Building along Burrowes Road (near Hosler Building)
- Pattee/Paterno Library (near Curtain Road & N. Allen Road stop sign
- Arboretum along Bigler Road
- All-Sports Museum pull off at Beaver Stadium along Curtin Road
- Intramural (IM) Building
- East Halls/East Parking Deck/Berkey Creamery
On Friday and after the shuttle service has ended, we encourage family members to utilize the FREE CATABUS Blue and White Loops and the Red Link to get around campus. Visit map.psu.edu or the Penn State Go app for routes.
- What is a Family Pride Pack and do we have to purchase one?
Family Pride Packs are filled with Penn State pride for you and your student. Each pack includes unique Penn State family items including a picnic blanket, rugby scarf, umbrella, and a garden flag all tucked into a clear tote bag that you can use when going to athletic events on campus.
Family Pride Packs are available for purchase (pride packs will cost $40) during the event registration process. Pride Packs typically sell out very quickly. There is a limit of one pack per family.
The purchase of a Family Pride Pack is not required to attend Parents and Families Weekend.
- How and when can we pick up our Family Pride Pack?
You can pick up your items in HUB, Room 131, during the check-in process.
- Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday, 8:00 a. m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Can my student pick up our items?
- Yes, please include your student’s name on the event registration form.
What if we forgot to pick up our items or our plans changed?
- Family Pride Packs will be available for pick up in the Parents Program office October 2-31 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. If these times do not work, please contact the office at 814-863-1313 to make alternate arrangements. Items not picked up by October 31 are no longer available for pickup.
- Do we have to register for Parents and Families Weekend to purchase a Family Pride Pack?
Yes, you must register for Parents and Families Weekend to purchase a Family Pride Pack.
- We still have questions. Who can we contact?
Prior to the event, please contact the Parents Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-863-1313.
During the event, please use our special event text line: 814-689-9220.