How Aid Works

When considering a Stanford education, you and your family may be concerned about the high costs. The Financial Aid Office is ready to help. We view the financing of your educational costs as a partnership between you (the student), your family and the University. Our aid program is designed to ensure that your family's economic circumstances will not prevent you from being able to enroll at Stanford.

Determining Eligibility

Our financial aid program is need-based, meaning that all aid eligibility is determined by your family’s financial circumstances. While you and your parents have the primary responsibility for paying for college, financial aid can bridge the gap between the total costs and your ability to pay.

We use a standard method to carefully review your family’s financial circumstances and establish an expected contribution from you and your parents. If we determine that you cannot meet the student budget based on that calculated amount, we will award or recommend scholarships, grants or other resources to help you.

Average Scholarship/Grant for the Class of 2023

The average amount of Scholarship and Grant from all sources received by need-based aid recipients in the current freshman class is $58,494. This includes $52,030 average scholarship from Stanford as well as grant funds received from federal, state and private resources. The table below shows the average total scholarship and grant by income range for dependent students whose families live in the United States.

Total (Gross) Family Income Average Scholarship and Grant Average Net Cost % of applicants who qualify for scholarship aid from Stanford
*most who qualify have 2 (or more) children in college
Less than $ 65,000 78,309 4,007 99%
65,000 - 95,000 68,323 8,657 98%
95,000 - 125,000 58,998 17,390 97%
125,000 - 155,000 49,903 26,559 97%
155,000 - 185,000 43,382 32,876 95%
185,000 - 215,000 32,800 43,644 95%
215,000 - 245,000* 30,201 46,171 89%
Greater than $245,000* 23,036 53,303 48%

Eligibility for Stanford Scholarship funds is based not only on family income level, but also on the size of the family, number of family members in college and family assets among other factors.  This explains why not every applicant at a particular income level may qualify for assistance.

Average Net Cost is the amount of the average individual student budget that's not covered by gift funds, in other words, the amount for which the student and parents, when appropriate, are responsible. Direct costs such as tuition, mandatory fees, room and board as well as indirect costs like books and supplies, a reasonable allowance for personal expenses and round trip travel expenses to and from home and campus are included in this calculation.

Prospective students and parents are encouraged to use our Net Price Calculator to obtain an individualized estimate of eligibility for need-based financial aid from Stanford.

Why are these Net Cost numbers different from the information published by the Federal Government? (Reference: College Navigator by the National Center for Education Statistics)
  • The income categories used are broader because the information is more useful to those seriously considering Stanford.  Because of our higher costs, remaining affordable means our aid is available to those higher up the income scale.
  • Because the data is from the current freshman class, it is more up to date.
  • The federal data is based only on federal aid recipients.  Because Stanford meets need for eligible students without expecting them to borrow, only a small portion of our aid recipients receive federal aid and are included in the federal report. 
  • The federal net price calculation is based on the standard student budget allowances excluding the travel amount.  We've chosen to calculate the average net cost based on individual students' actual budgets, providing a more realistic estimate of actual costs.
  • Only those who apply for need-based aid from Stanford are included. Athletes, for example, may receive a federal Pell Grant in addition to their athletic aid, but skew the picture of need-based grant available.
  • Independent students and families with separate contribution expectations from non-custodial parent household as well as international students are excluded from this analysis as their scholarship amounts could skew the analysis.
Updated on July 2, 2020 2:08 PM