Board of Trustees approves 2023-24 tuition, fees

The Cornell Board of Trustees has approved parameters for the university’s 2023-24 budget, including tuition rates for the coming academic year.

Increases in undergraduate tuition – which will rise between $1,930 and $2,748 – will be offset by increasing grant-based aid for most students with financial need whose family circumstances have remained constant.

Roughly half of Cornell’s undergraduates – around 7,437 students – receive Cornell grants, which do not need to be repaid. Cornell has budgeted a record $407 million in grant aid for fiscal year 2024, continuing a trend that has seen institutional assistance rise more than 50% in the last five years.

“This growing investment in institutional financial aid ensures that a Cornell education remains accessible to students of every background,” said President Martha E. Pollack.

Like other universities and businesses, Cornell’s operating costs have increased due to inflationary pressures, said Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff. Controlling costs has helped keep the increases well below the national rate of inflation, which was 7.48% in 2022.

“Tuition increases are constrained to cover rising university costs, the most significant component of which is maintaining competitive salaries amid rising costs of living – the need to recruit and retain the highest-quality faculty and staff at Cornell,” Kotlikoff said. “We recognize the impact of inflation on our students and their families, and have kept the increase in tuition as moderate as possible amidst this year’s challenging cost pressures.”

The cost of attendance is often not the price a student will pay to attend Cornell. All Cornell undergraduates applying for financial assistance are reviewed for need-based financial aid that covers tuition, housing and dining, as well as other costs of attendance.

Undergraduate tuition for 2023-24 will be $65,204, an increase of $2,748 (4.4%), for unaided out-of-state students attending any of Cornell’s colleges, and for unaided New York state residents attending the endowed colleges: the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; and Cornell Engineering.

For unaided undergraduate New York state residents attending contract colleges – the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations – tuition will be $43,888, an increase of $1,930 (4.6%). Tuition, before financial aid, for state residents attending contract colleges remains significantly discounted ($21,316 less).

The overall average increase for housing and dining for the 2023-24 academic year is $1,466 ($1,136 for housing; $330 for dining). Housing and dining rates were intentionally kept lower last year because of COVID-19’s impact on families; this year, the increase is necessary to defray a substantial rise in food, labor and construction costs. With the completion of the North Campus Residential Expansion project, all first- and second-year students are required to live on campus and have meal plans, in order to better support their transition to college and ensure food security.

“Students who qualify for grant aid will not feel an increase in housing or dining costs, as they will receive a commensurate increase in grant aid,” said Jonathan Burdick, vice provost for enrollment. “Cornell meets 100% of anticipated financial need.”

Cornell has already raised $323 million of a $500 million capital campaign aiming to increase access to and affordability of its education. Part of the ongoing $5 billion “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign, the capital campaign will increase the number of students receiving aid by 1,000; reduce graduating students’ loan burden by an average of 25%; and create a waiver replacing the minimum student contribution with additional aid, allowing students more flexibility when accepting summer experiences including internships, research and community service.

So far, nearly 4,000 students have received $4.5 million in additional Cornell grant aid; the Experience Cornell student contribution waiver request form was launched in January.

“The capital campaign has already allowed Cornell to increase grant aid for many students in the spring 2023 semester, with more policies set to go into effect in the 2023-24 academic year,” Pollack said. “We’ve made great progress toward our goals, which will provide more opportunities and decrease the debt burden for students with need.”

Tuition for master’s, doctoral and professional degrees will rise between zero and 7.5%.

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Rebecca Valli