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Cornell University scholarships, student loans and grants

How needs-based grants and financial aid work at this Ivy League school.

Cornell University might come with a hefty price tag, but it also offers one of the more generous financial aid packages out there. Most students receive some type of aid, many in the form of grants and scholarships.

And if Cornell falls short in covering everything, student loans might be worth the investment. The undergraduate Class of 2016 had an average starting salary of $63,071 — and students who went into tech made an average of $81,798.

How much does it cost to go to Cornell?

Cost of attending CornellAnnual cost
Meal plan$6,094
Books and supplies$970
Other expenses$1,850
Total cost for the 2019-2020 academic year$75,288

As you can see, going to Cornell costs more than just tuition and fees. The university also factors in housing, food, books and other living expenses when calculating your cost of attendance (COA).

What’s the average student debt load for Cornell students?

Despite its large price tag, Cornell students graduated with an average of $25,542 in student debt in 2016, according to the Department of Education (DoE). To cut down on your debt load, look into scholarships, grants and work-study programs before applying for a federal or private student loan.

Does Cornell offer a tuition payment plan?

Yes, Cornell offers a full-service payment plan that allows students or parents to break up semester tuition and fees into monthly payments. You can sign up for a semester-based installment plan by following these steps:

  1. Log in to your student account on Cornell’s Cashnet page.
  2. Select Installment Payment Plans and choose the semester plan.
  3. Enter how much you’d like to budget for the semester.
  4. Review the terms and conditions before checking the box to agree.
  5. Enter your payment information and click Submit Payment.

How Cornell financial aid works

Like other Ivy League universities, Cornell offers a comprehensive need-based financial aid package to all citizens and eligible noncitizens.

Cornell University Grant

While Cornell is expensive, the cost may be less prohibitive than you think. It’s seriously expanded its financial aid program over the past few decades and offered nearly $240 million in grants in 2017. The average grant clocked in at $40,686 for the Class of 2021, with some students receiving as much as $76,997 — that’s more than the estimated COA for the 2019-2020 academic year.

All grant awards are based on financial need, so there’s no minimum or maximum amount — Cornell decides how much you’re eligible for on a case-by-case basis.

Cornell Endowed Scholarships

Private individuals and donors also offer several scholarships, typically based on your field of study or to encourage diversity. Cornell automatically considers all students for endowed scholarships when you apply for financial aid. However, you’re encouraged to complete a questionnaire on the financial aid website to help them find a good fit.

Award matching

Want to go to Cornell, but got a better deal somewhere else? Cornell attempts to match all financial aid packages offered by other Ivy League schools, Duke, Stanford and MIT. Send a financial aid appeal letter to Cornell’s financial aid office to find out if you can get a larger scholarship.

Cornell University (Gardner/Shoemaker) Loans

In addition to offering a wide range of grants and scholarships, Cornell also offers University Loans to students based on financial need. They come with one fixed rate of 6% for all borrowers, no fees and there’s no interest while you’re in school. Repayments begin six months after you graduate or otherwise leave the university.

However, Cornell guarantees that any family with a total annual income under $60,000 and total assets under $100,000 won’t have to contribute anything to pay for Cornell — including taking out student loans. This is why the university limits the amount of loans you can receive in a financial aid package based on your family income.

Here’s how it broke down for the 2018-2019 academic year:

Family incomeMaximum student loan per year
Under $60,000$0
$60,001 to $85,000$2,500
$85,001 to $135,000$5,000
Above $135,000$7,500

If your family has low income but assets over $100,000 — such as home equity — you might not get as generous of a financial aid package.

Are there other scholarships and grants available?

There are. In addition to Cornell University grants and scholarships, students can apply for federal grants and scholarships, and New York state residents can also apply for state grants. Students from out of state might have fewer scholarship options, though you might want to check out what financial aid packages your home state offers to residents.

Students might also want to look into scholarships and grants from private companies and individuals without direct connection to the university, such as the Tylenol Future Care Scholarship for aspiring health professionals.

New York scholarships, student loans and grants

Other students loans to pay for Cornell

Cornell students who still need funds after receiving scholarships, grants and University Loans might want to consider taking out federal or private student loans. Typically, students apply for federal student loans before turning to private lenders — they’re less expensive and come with more flexible repayment plans.

But they also have annual and lifetime limits, and not everyone can qualify. If you’re ineligible to receive federal aid, private student loan providers might be your next best bet, since they’re more flexible than other types of personal loans.

Compare private student loan providers

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Paying for an Ivy League degree is sometimes easier than funding a less-expensive public school, and Cornell is no exception. Its price tag might be high, but its generous financial aid package means relying on loans will be unnecessary for some students.

Not so lucky? Check out our guide to student loans to compare lenders and learn more about how it all works.

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