Cornell’s Commitment to Access and Affordability

Over the past 20 years, Cornell has tripled its annual spending on grant aid. As a result, for most students receiving financial aid, Cornell is more affordable today than it was in 1997.

We awarded more than $297 million in institutional grants in 2020-2021, defraying tuition and living costs for undergraduate students with financial need. The average need-based Cornell grant award for a first-year student was $44,000.

Cornell offers financial aid to all U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens and has a limited amount of aid for international students. The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment is available to provide guidance, support and information for students and families interested in the financial aid process.

Of 14,743 full-time undergraduate students enrolled Fall 2020:
  • Aid went to all students who demonstrate need
  • 7,977 (54%) received need-based financial aid of any type
  • 7,065 (48%) received Cornell grant aid
  • 2,592 received Pell Grants
  • 3,510 received Federal Work-Study

Evaluating Peer Need-Based Offers

If you have received a financial aid offer from another Ivy League institution, MIT, Duke, or Stanford, Cornell will strive to calculate the same eligibility based on the information provided. The components that we will evaluate are the parent contribution, student contribution, and initial offers of loan and work. We are unable to consider evaluating scholarship offers that are from schools other than the Ivy League, Stanford, Duke or MIT or offers based on athletics and/or merit scholarships. Assessments can only be made for the applicants who received the offer. It will not be applied to other siblings at Cornell.

Please submit a copy of the official aid offer from the other institution directly to the Financial Aid Office. 

Low Debt Burden

Cornell guarantees that any family with a total income of less than $60,000, and total assets of less than $100,000 (including primary home equity), will have no parent contribution and no loans.

Loans may be necessary for some families. Cornell caps the amount of loans a student can have based on their family’s income. The mean debt at graduation among Cornell students who borrow is less than $24,000 – substantially lower than the mean debt of $32,600 for all private college graduates.

In addition, the mean starting salary for 2015 Cornell graduates was $62,980 – that is nearly $10,000 higher than the U.S. median income in 2014. Low debt burden, excellent job placement and strong starting salaries help our students build a solid foundation for their future.

For students who began studies at Cornell in Fall 2018 or after

Total Family Income Maximum Loan in Aid Package Each Year
Under $60,000 annually $0
Between $60,001 and $85,000 annually $2,500
Between $85,001 and $135,000 annually $5,000
Above $135,000 annually $7,500

For students who began studies at Cornell before Fall 2018

Total Family Income Maximum Loan in Aid Package Each Year
Under $60,000 annually $0
Between $60,001 and $75,000 annually $2,500
Between $75,001 and $120,000 annually $5,000
Above $120,000 annually $7,500