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Financial Aid

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When choosing a college we recognize that you are making a big investment toward your future. Cornell takes that investment seriously. Cornell's Financial Aid Office designs financial aid packages that meet the demonstrated needs of each family to help make a Cornell education more affordable.

Cornell, like many of its peer institutions, does not award scholarships based upon athletic or academic merit. Rather, our commitment is to strive to ensure that all students demonstrating the intellectual strength to attend Cornell can afford a Cornell education.

Financial aid is available if you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and admissions decisions for these students will be need-blind,  meaning that admissions officers do not know whether you have applied for financial aid when they review your application. Admissions committees consider your demonstrated intellectual ability, social involvement, fit with the university, and a number of other factors but not your ability to afford Cornell. Eligible non-citizens include permanent residents, refugees and asylees, students who hold DACA status, and students who have been long-term green card applicants but have not yet achieved Legal Permanent Resident (green card) status.

For international students, Cornell provides financial aid on a limited basis and admissions decisions for these students will be need aware. This means that they will be evaluated for admission with consideration of the ability of students or parents to pay educational costs.

Cornell Financial Aid Initiatives

Parent Contribution Initiative

Families with a total family income of less than $60,000, and total assets of less than $100,000 (including primary home equity), will have no parent contribution. Total family income equals adjusted gross income for the most recent tax year, plus any business or other losses, as well as any untaxed income. In cases of divorce or separation, we calculate total family income for each parent and add them together.

Loan Initiative

Cornell is committed to keeping your student loans at a reasonable level. Need-based loans included in your aid package are capped based on total family income.

Please note that our loan policy refers to the amount of loan that students may be awarded to help meet their need. Students and parents may decide to take additional loan to help with the calculated family contribution or additional expenses such as health insurance or a computer.

Total Family Income Amount of Student Loan in Aid Package
under $60,000 annually $0
$60,001-$85,000 $2,500
$85,001-$135,000 $5,000
Above $135,000 $7,500

Award Match Initiative

We want you to choose Cornell based on fit, not finances, therefore Cornell will strive to match the family contribution components and lower loan level of financial aid offers from other Ivy League schools, as well as need-based aid from Stanford, Duke, and MIT.

Financial Aid FAQs

Who can afford a Cornell education? 

Cornell University's mission of "Any Person, Any Study", and building on a long history of providing access to students regardless of economic circumstances, means we strive to make a Cornell education financially possible for any student who is admitted to the university. Each aid application is carefully reviewed by a financial aid counselor and a specific aid package is designed to meet your need. Please visit the Office of Financial Aid website for more details.

Who is eligible to receive financial aid? 

At Cornell, financial aid is available to undergraduate students who are citizens of the U.S or eligible non-citizens. Limited financial aid is available to international students and undocumented applicants without DACA status.  

Is my financial situation considered when reviewing my application for admission? 

For US. citizens or eligible non-citizens, the answer is no. Cornell University practices need-blind admissions for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens, which means your ability to pay is not factored into the admissions process. The Admissions Office, in fact, is completely separate from the Financial Aid Office so when your application is being reviewed, we are not aware whether or not you are applying for financial aid. If you apply for financial aid and are admitted, the Office of Financial Aid will put together a need-based financial aid package for you.

For international students, admissions decisions for international applicants and undocumented applicants without DACA status will be need-aware. This means that they will be evaluated for admission with consideration of the ability of students or parents to pay educational costs.

What advice do you have for someone applying for financial aid? 

Submit your financial aid application materials by the deadlines. This allows our Financial Aid officers and counselors the time they need to fully and completely review your application for aid, and it allows your family to fully consider the financial aid package offered to you when making a decision about where to attend for the fall. The Office of Financial Aid has all of the forms and deadlines you need to submit a financial aid application.

What happens if I'm admitted via Early Decision and my family can't afford to pay for my Cornell education?  

When you receive your financial aid package, you will work with Cornell's Financial Aid Office to work out the details of your aid package.  On the rare occasion that your aid package does not meet your family's need, you will be released from your Early Decision agreement, and free to apply to other institutions.   

If I receive financial aid as a new student, am I guaranteed financial aid during my entire time at Cornell? 

No. All financial aid recipients must reapply for financial aid each year. If you are eligible for financial aid, and your family's financial situation remains constant, you can expect a consistent financial aid package from year to year, both in terms of what you can expect in the aid award and the amount that you and your family will be expected to contribute. Some factors may affect the way your need is calculated (and thus change your award), such as changes in income, number of people in the household, or the number of children who are full-time undergraduate students.  

Does Cornell offer merit aid or athletic scholarships? 

No. Cornell's (and all Ivy League institutions) financial aid is need-based. Cornell University offers financial aid solely on the basis of demonstrated financial need. We do not offer merit awards for academic, athletic, musical, or other talents. We do have selective programs, such as the Cornell Commitment programs, that recognize, reward, and encourage further development of a select group of students who exemplify Cornell's commitment to academic excellence, work and service, research and discovery, and leadership and learning, and in so doing, enrich their experience at Cornell and beyond. Cornell Engineering also has the Jacobs Scholars and the McMullen Scholars which recognize selected students for their potential as future engineers. All Cornell Engineering applicants are automatically considered for these programs. There is a need-based component offered with the programs.

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