Newly Admitted Students
It’s important to review and understand your financial aid package so that you can confidently accept Cornell’s offer of admission. The information below can help answer some of the questions you might have.
If you have been admitted and applied for financial aid, you will receive one of the following notifications:
an aid decision outlining your financial aid eligibility, if you completed all financial aid requirement
an email indicating items are missing from your application for financial aid.
Read this page. By accepting Cornell’s offer of admission, you accept your financial aid offer. This page includes important details about your aid award and resources for planning purposes.
Talk with your family: You'll want to talk with your family about how your family contribution will be paid or financed. You will be billed your fall charges in July, to be paid by August 7, and you will be billed spring charges in December, to be paid by January 7.
Watch for emails from us: We communicate primarily with you (the student) via email to your Cornell email address. Common items for us to email students about include verifying sibling(s) enrollment in college, loan promissory notes and entrance counseling, and reapplying for aid for future years.
Click on the headings below to learn more information
Award Information - The "Fine Print"
This section will review the components of our equation of financial need:
Cost of Attendance - Family Contribution = Financial Need
Cost of Attendance
The Estimated Cost of Attendance is the same as the Estimated Financial Aid Budget on your award. Cornell’s estimated cost of attendance is based on tuition, fees, housing, dining, books, supplies and personal items for a full-time student attending for both the fall and spring semesters. This cost depends on several factors, including which undergraduate college you apply to and if you are a New York state resident.
Note: we use the on-campus double room rate for housing and the Bear Traditional meal plan rate for dining, regardless of where you are living or eating.
The cost of attendance includes $370 towards health fees.
Health insurance is mandatory at Cornell. Students with health insurance meeting Cornell’s standards who are approved for a waiver will be charged the $370 Health Fee. If you do not have health insurance that meets Cornell’s standards, you will be charged for the Student Health Plan (SHP). You may request a loan for the difference between the SHP cost and the $370 that is included in your cost of attendance.
Family Contribution Components
The Parent Contribution is the amount we have calculated that your parents can contribute to your education for the 2019-20 academic year. This amount is based on multiple factors, including the number of people in your household, the number of children in your household enrolled full-time in an undergraduate degree-seeking program, and your parents’ income and assets as reported on their federal income tax returns and the CSS PROFILE.
Cornell University requires verification of sibling enrollment. If you indicate in your application materials that you have one or more siblings enrolled in college for the upcoming academic year, and we have included your sibling(s) as being in college when calculating your financial aid award, we will verify their enrollment. We will contact the student at their Cornell email address with instructions and deadlines.
The Student Contribution is a combination of a Summer Savings Expectation (SSE) and a Student Contribution from Assets (SCA). The SSE is the amount that Cornell expects you to earn and save during the summer before the academic year. The standard SSE amount for incoming freshmen is $2,700. The SCA is a 25% contribution of the assets held in your name that were not earned and saved by you or your parents. In subsequent years, you will be expected to contribute the same amount, as long as your assets do not increase.
Financial Aid Awarded
Cornell awards need-based financial aid, meaning that your financial aid is a reflection of your family's ability to pay. The financial aid that we have awarded may include a combination of grants/outside scholarships, employment, and student loans.
Grants may include Cornell University grant, any state or federal grants for which you are eligible, and any outside scholarships that you reported. These funds do not need to be repaid.
At Cornell, outside scholarships, grants, tuition benefits, crowd-sourced funds, VA benefits, and ROTC scholarships and stipends reduce the loan and work eligibility components of your financial aid package. If the amount you’re receiving in outside scholarship funding exceeds the amount of work and loan in your aid package, remaining outside scholarship funds will be used to reduce your Cornell grant funding.
Since outside awards are additional resources which help to meet your demonstrated financial need, they cannot be used to reduce the parent contribution or other expected family resources. Please notify the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment of any outside awards you expect to receive. Find out more about Outside Scholarships.
Student loans are a form of aid that you will need to repay, generally after you graduate. If you have loans as part of your financial aid award, you will need to take action prior to the start of school to accept them. You will be receiving an email with further instructions when it is time to sign promissory notes and complete entrance counseling.
While you may be packaged with a loan, you are not required to accept the loans in your financial aid award. If you wish to decline any of your loans, you may do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and Cornell ID number with your response along with which loan(s) you wish to decline. This request must come from the student; parents cannot cancel student loans.
The employment expectation (either Federal Work Study or Employment Earnings Expectation) is what we expect you to earn through work during the academic year. There are a wide variety of part-time jobs on the Cornell campus. If you receive financial aid and are either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with financial need, you may be eligible for Federal Work-Study. Cornell doesn’t place students in jobs; students must conduct their own job searches. Our How to Find a Job video tutorial will give you more details. Learn more here and start planning today!
Financial Aid Appeal and Financing Options
Financial Aid Appeal
If there is new information that was not provided with your initial financial aid application that affects your family's ability to meet the expected family contribution, or if you think we may not have understood some aspect of your family's financial circumstances, you may request a reconsideration of your financial aid package. Additionally, if you received a need-based aid offer from another Ivy League institution, Stanford, Duke, and/or MIT that is more favorable than Cornell’s, we welcome the opportunity to match their offer of financial aid. Download and submit the Appeal Application. Since we offer the best aid package we can based on the initial information we’ve been given, reconsideration is based on additional supporting documentation provided by your family. Learn more in our Filing an Appeal video.
You may be considering financing a portion of the family contribution. Below is an overview of potential resources that can assist with this. You are able to use multiple methods of financing.
- The Cornell Installment Plan (CIP): The installment plan allows you to pay your bursar-billed expenses in equal monthly installments. There are no interest or finance charges, but there is a small annual enrollment fee.
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan: The maximum amount first-year students may borrow is $5,500. A portion of this loan may already be included as part of the student's financial aid award. The interest rate will be fixed on July 1, 2019. The loan may be subsidized or unsubsidized, and the student will be awarded the best possible type of loan based on federal eligibility.
- Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan): Parents wishing to apply for a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan) should complete the PLUS application. Processing of loans will begin around June 1.
- Alternative Lenders: Any Cornell undergraduate student may apply for an alternative loan through an outside lender to help cover educational expenses.
Admitted International or Undocumented Students
Cornell provides need-based financial aid to a limited number of admitted international students, undocumented students without DACA status and who do not meet the Long-term undocumented or Green Card Applicant Initiatives. Selected students will receive an aid decision letter with their official acceptance packet.
Undocumented students with DACA status, long-term undocumented students, and students who have been long-term Green Card applicants but have not yet achieved Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card) status should review our aid application requirements.
Key Takeaways from Cornell Days
For those students unable to attend the Financial Aid presentation during Cornell Days, highlights of the presentation can be found below.
Approximately half of Cornell undergraduates receive need-based financial aid.
For 2018-2019, Cornell awarded $257 million in grant aid, more than triple the amount given in 1998. For 2019-2020, undergraduate financial aid will increase to $270 million.
Cornell has a high graduation rate and low debt burden, with 93% of Cornell undergraduates graduating on time (the national average is 59%) and 59% of students graduating with no debt (the national average is 31%).
A Student’s Financial Need is calculated by subtracting the Family Contribution from the Cost of Attendance.
- Cost of Attendance: Tuition/Activity Fee + Room/Board + Books + Travel + Misc. Expenses + Health-related Expenses
- Family Contribution: Student Contribution + Parent Contribution (+ Non-Custodial Parent Contribution, if applicable)
- Student Contribution: Calculated from income and assets, with a minimum expectation of summer savings All students have a Student Contribution, with a few exceptions
- Parent Contribution: Calculated from income and assets A family with a total family income of less than $60,000 and assets valued less than $100,000 will not have a parent contribution.
Resources and Contact Information
Speak with a Financial Aid Counselor
Financial aid counselors are available to speak with students on a walk-in basis. Our regular walk-in hours are Monday-Friday from noon–3:30 p.m. Our staff is also happy to assist students and families by phone, and our phone hours are Monday–Friday from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. We are located at 203 Day Hall and our phone number is 607-255-5145.
We have developed a series of videos to help you understand more about financial aid and student employment on campus.
Financial Aid Glossary
Financial aid has its own language, and we realize that families experiencing the financial aid process are in an alphabet soup of new terms. Check out our Glossary to help with this learning process.