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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What Does it Really Cost to Attend Stanford University?

There are many factors that can go into deciding what schools are a good fit for your student’s college application list: available degree programs, location, size, student-faculty ratios, career support, and more. However, one of the most difficult factors to navigate is the cost. Not only are college costs rising every year, but often the number you first see isn’t the actual cost you’ll pay for your child to attend.


It is difficult to predict the exact cost your family might pay for a school, but taking a deeper look at what goes into the cost of an education can help give you a better idea of what to expect. In this series, we break down different factors that impact college costs—in-state vs. out-of-state tuition, individual family finances, and more—to help your family go into the application process better prepared. Read on to learn more about what an education from Stanford University could cost for your student.


Want to learn what Stanford University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Stanford University needs to know.


Why Are College Costs So Variable?


The main reason college costs are variable is that every family has a different financial situation, and these different factors play a role in your college costs. However, the price listed on a college’s website or in a brochure is what we call the list price—also known as a sticker price—and does not take these individual factors into account. Instead, the list price is the price that a family would be expected to pay without any financial assistance. Each school includes different things in this number, so check for a line-item breakdown to see what is included besides tuition and room and board.


However, because most families are not paying list price, it is often more valuable to look at a school’s net cost, or what families typically pay out of pocket (including loans). Considering the net cost instead of list price can make the difference between an affordable education and an untenable one.


There are three main factors that go into determining a net cost: federal, state, and local government aid; institutional financial aid; and merit scholarships. While predicting the amount of aid your student will receive in these categories is difficult before receiving an official aid offer, understanding individual school financial aid policies can help determine if the school is a viable option.


What is the List Price at Stanford University?


In the 2016-2017 school year, the list price of a year at Stanford University was $66,696. As a private institution, both in- and out-of-state residents have the same list price.


The good news is that very few students pay list price; typically only wealthy families who earn more than $175,000 per year would be expected to pay this amount.


What is the Net Cost of Attending Stanford University?


Your family’s net cost is determined by the three factors mentioned above: government aid, institutional aid, and merit aid. However, Stanford’s institutional aid is need-based, so merit aid isn’t a factor at this school. We’ll look just at government and institutional aid.


With financial aid, the average net cost for the 2016-2017 school year was $55,158. For students who did not qualify for financial aid, the net cost in 2016-2017 was $66,689.


What is the Income-Based Cost of Attending Stanford University?


That average net cost number still looks scary—until you remember it’s an average for all students receiving any type of financial aid. Broken down by income, the numbers become even more helpful:


Family Income Average Net Cost
$0-$30,000 $1,630
$30,001-$48,000 $4,035
$48,001-$75,000 $4,061
$75,001-$110,000 $18,212
$110,000+ $39,853


Stanford does a great breakdown of their financial aid averages on their website.


How Much Merit Aid is Typical at Stanford University?


As mentioned above, Stanford doesn’t offer merit scholarships. Like many other prestigious schools, this is typical. Their financial aid program is need-based and, per their website, “designed to ensure that your family’s economic circumstances will not prevent you from being able to enroll at Stanford.”

How Many Students Take Out Loans to Attend Stanford University?


Part of many financial aid packages are federal loans, which typically have lower interest rates and the ability to customize your repayment terms. About 59% of Stanford students took out loans, with the average federal student loan amount per undergrad student coming out to around $1,180.


Student Outcomes


A college education is an investment in your child’s future. At Stanford, 89% of students graduate within six years, and the average alumni salary ten years after graduation is $94,000.


Local Area Cost Considerations


Besides the list or even net cost, there are other costs that come up with attending college. These incidentals could include rent, groceries, travel to and from home, and more.

Stanford University is located in Stanford, California, in close proximity to Palo Alto, California. Stanford is in the heart of Silicon Valley, which makes it a rich location for job opportunities and entertainment options.


This unfortunately also means that the area has a high cost of living compared to the US average. Where 100 is the US average, Stanford has a cost of living index of 648.2, while Palo Alto has a cost of living index of 613.5. The biggest driving factor in this high cost of living is housing, which is indexed at 1883 in Stanford and 1766.2 in Palo Alto. Luckily, Stanford guarantees housing for up to four years for undergraduates.


Minimum wage in California increased to $12/hour and in the city of Palo Alto, it increased to $15/hour as of January 1, 2019. Both are much higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which helps offset the increased cost of living.


Other Ways to Help Fund a College Education


Besides government aid and institutional aid from Stanford, there are other ways to help fund your student’s college education. If your student is a California state resident, they can apply for the Cal Grant program. There are also a multitude of outside scholarships that exist for hundreds of qualifying categories. While Stanford does not offer National Merit Aid scholarships, they offer additional information on outside scholarships on their financial aid page.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
Anna Ravenelle is a graduate of Cornell University, where she studied English with a concentration in Creative Writing. After spending two application cycles in the CollegeVine applications division, she now uses her admissions experience to help a greater number of students. She resides in New York but her heart has never left New Hampshire, where she grew up.