Cornell increases aid for all students with financial need

In 2023, all undergraduates who qualify for financial aid will receive increases in university grant aid, thanks to the success of the ongoing “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign and President Martha E. Pollack’s commitment to making a Cornell education affordable and accessible.

Approximately 4,700 students will see increases in grant aid between $500 and $1,500 for the spring semester, with a corresponding reduction in self-help aid, comprising student contributions, loans and work-study expectations. Additional policy changes will result in more aid for the 2023-24 academic year, with 7,100 students receiving increases up to $1,800, including reductions in self-help aid. The increase in grant aid, which does not need to be repaid, is possible because of Cornell’s initial investment of nearly $14 million for the coming year.

“President Pollack and Cornell have made increasing affordability and broadening socioeconomic diversity in the student body a central focus,” said Jonathan Burdick, vice provost for enrollment. “The additional grant aid we’re distributing now will benefit most Cornell undergraduate students with financial need already this year, and starting next year, it will benefit all of them.”

The changes in policy – which will extend beyond the 2023-24 school year – begin to fulfill the affordability goals that are central to the “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign to raise $5 billion, including $500 million in endowment and current-use funds for undergraduate financial aid. Burdick said the swift and generous response from Cornell donors – raising $323 million towards the $500 million goal since the campaign began – has allowed Cornell to increase support now, ahead of meeting final goals in 2026.

Kevin Jensen, executive director of financial aid, said he hopes the adjustments will reduce financial burdens and give lower- and middle-income students more flexibility and access to opportunities.

Beginning next summer, eligible students who plan to participate in Experience Cornell opportunities or other approved summer programs can apply for a waiver to replace the annual minimum student contribution with additional Cornell Grant aid – making summer study abroad and unpaid internship experiences possible for more students.

“Some lower-income students who already have little or no expected loans will soon have greater flexibility to pursue unpaid summer experiences, while the middle-income students who borrow can graduate with less total debt,” Burdick said. “Making both moves together is by design giving every aided student a wider range of early career options.”

Eligibility and amounts of aid will be determined through annual aid application materials and demonstrated need. Students eligible for spring 2023 adjustments have been notified by email; adjustments will be made by early January. Students eligible for aid for the 2023-24 academic year will be notified starting in mid-April.

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Rebecca Valli