Families earning less than $45,000 need not make tuition contribution

Families with annual incomes of less than $45,000 will not be expected to contribute to the cost of tuition at Stanford University, and the requirements for middle-income families will be cut in half, Richard Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid, announced today.

The change applies to both new and continuing undergraduate students and will go into effect with the new academic year in September. The program is anticipated to cost the university $3 million in the first year.

"When Jane and Leland Stanford created the university, they wanted students admitted based on their abilities, promise and willingness to work hard and not on whether or not they could pay the cost of tuition," Shaw said. "With this new program, we are telling talented students from families with low to moderate incomes that they should apply with confidence. If they are admitted, we'll cover their costs."

The implementation of the policies follows a decision made last spring by President John Hennessy that the university would work toward eliminating financial contributions for families with incomes below $45,000.

"From its earliest days, Stanford has had equal commitments to excellence and ensuring access to students from the widest variety of backgrounds and circumstances," Hennessy said. "Having a student body from diverse economic backgrounds benefits not just the students who receive financial aid, but also the entire student body—enhancing their academic experience and broadening their worldview."

During the current academic year, parents of enrolled students with incomes below $45,000 contributed an average $2,650 toward educational costs. Under the new program, that contribution will be eliminated. Parents with incomes between $45,000 and $60,000 will see their expected contribution reduced to an average of $3,800. The changes will affect more than 1,100 students.

The university already has committed $66 million of its own funds for next year's financial aid program. This year, the total aid provided to undergraduates from the university and other sources surpassed $112 million. About 76 percent of Stanford undergraduates receive some form of internal or external financial aid.

The change improves Stanford's already generous financial aid program. Stanford is one of the few universities in the nation that is "need blind," meaning that U.S. citizens and permanent residents are admitted without regard to their ability to pay. The university then meets the full need of all students who qualify for aid.

In the coming year, Stanford's undergraduate tuition will be $32,994, and total costs including room, board, books, transportation and personal expenses will average $47,000. The average financial aid package will include $28,700 in scholarships and grants. In addition to an expectation of support from parents based on their ability to pay, students are expected to contribute summer earnings, work during the academic year and take advantage of student loans.

"Students from low-income backgrounds are underrepresented at our nation's most selective institutions," Shaw said. "Stanford has historically had a strong financial aid program for low-income students. But many families may not know that or may be discouraged by the stated tuition. So we want to be more forceful with this new program in encouraging talented low-income students to consider Stanford."