What Does It Really Cost to Attend Cornell University?

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The largest member of the Ivy League, Cornell University has seven undergraduate colleges. This prestigious university is situated in Ithaca, New York, home to its famed picturesque gorges and waterfalls.


Private colleges like Cornell can be very expensive to attend. However, it’s important to remember that the list price, the number you’ll see first, is unlikely to be what you’ll actually end up paying. Instead, you should take into account federal, state, and local government aid; institutional financial aid; and merit scholarships, all of which will contribute to your net cost. The net cost is what you’ll actually pay out of pocket.


So, what can you expect to pay if your child attends Cornell? Here’s our breakdown of the costs.


Cornell University’s List Price


Including tuition, room, and board, the list price for in- and out-of-state students who attend Cornell is $67,613.


Usually, families earning a combined salary upwards of $175,000 are expected to pay the list price, while those earning less generally receive some amount of financial aid.


Cost of Attendance with Financial Aid


The average net cost for students receiving financial aid is $57,068. These costs vary depending on your family’s household income:


Family Income Net Price
$0-$30,000 $16,751*
$30,001-$48,000 $12,382
$48,001-$75,000 $15,456
$75,001-$110,000 $26,486
Over $110,000 $26,486

*Net price may appear higher for low-earning families because students in this income bracket often receive Pell Grants.


Merit Aid


Like the other institutions within the Ivy League, Cornell does not award merit scholarships to any students. Therefore, the cost of attendance for students who don’t qualify for need-based aid is the same as the list price of $67,613.

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Student Loans and Debts


Loans are a standard component of most financial aid packages, and unlike many other pieces, they must be paid back after students graduate. At Cornell, 80 percent of students have loans, with an average federal loan debt of $2,828.


Other Ways to Save on College


Beyond financial aid, many college students supplement their income through other resources. Ithaca is a city largely powered by Cornell, so there are plenty of opportunities for part-time jobs and internships on campus or with local alumni.


Furthermore, just because Cornell doesn’t award merit scholarships doesn’t mean your student can’t win them through other means. Many organizations and foundations offer scholarships to promising students who fall into certain demographics, intend to study or follow career paths in specific disciplines, and others. It’s a good idea to get a head start on researching potential scholarships when your child is a junior to make certain you have the materials you need and meet deadlines.


To learn more about need-based aid at Cornell, check out the university’s Grants and Scholarships page.


Student Outcomes


The outcomes are promising for Cornell students and alumni. Ninety-three percent of students graduate within six years, and graduates earn an average annual salary of $77,200 after 10 years.


Local Area Cost Considerations


The cost of living index in Ithaca, New York, is 104. That means that it is four percent more expensive than the national average.


Freshmen and sophomores who meet application deadlines and requirements are guaranteed housing, but the housing options are limited for sophomores. Upperclassmen are not guaranteed housing. In Ithaca, the average prices for apartment rentals are $1168 for a one bedroom and $1636 for a two bedroom. The Off-Campus Living office offers plenty of resources for and assistance with your apartment search.


Currently, the minimum wage in New York State is $11.10/hour and will rise to $15.00/hour at the end of 2019. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly salary for all occupations was $27.90 in 2017. Keep in mind, however, that this average encompasses all professions, including those held by college graduates.


Does your child need help with her college applications? Check out our Applications Program. With features like our financial aid assistance tool for understanding the ROI of colleges and majors, your child can benefit from cost analyses, application theme development, and much more. Contact us today to learn about our services!

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.