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Stanford publishes results from fall 2022 student expenses survey

Stanford has completed analysis and posted results from an undergraduate and graduate student expenses survey that was conducted in fall 2022.

Preliminary findings related to graduate students were shared at a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this year. The university has completed an analysis of findings for all students who responded to the survey, and published a summary of key findings as well as detailed information about undergraduate and graduate student survey responses on the Institutional Research and Decision Support website.

The survey helps the university estimate student expenses and develop student budgets. It also informs decision making and helps university leaders understand the experiences and financial stresses of students. About 30% of students participated in the 2022 survey, with participation levels varying across degree programs. Respondents were asked to share their monthly expenditures in categories such as household items, food purchases, social activities, personal expenses, local transportation, and course-related books.

“This survey gives us important information about the experiences of our students and the financial pressures they face,” said Provost Persis Drell. “The survey provides a great deal of helpful data that we are now reviewing very closely. We want all members of our community to thrive at Stanford, and we are committed to continuing to address the financial challenges facing the community.”

Areas explored in the survey include:

  • Financial stress: All levels of students surveyed reported some degree of financial stress. Among undergraduate respondents, 35% reported the financial stress they experienced did not impact their academic performance, and 28% said it did. Those who reported financial stress impacting academics varied based on the level of financial aid they received. Half of MA/MS respondents and half of PhD respondents both reported experiencing financial stress but said it did not impact their academic performance. However, 19% of MA/MS respondents and 24% of PhD respondents reported that financial stress did impact academic performance.
  • Financial health of respondents: Many students reported that neither their family nor they themselves would be able to afford an unanticipated $500 expense, with the proportion of undergraduate respondents who experienced this financial pressure varying across the financial aid category. For example, 48% of low-income undergraduate respondents reported they would not be able to afford an unanticipated $500 expense while only 4% of respondents who did not receive need-based aid reported the same. Among PhD respondents, 27% who identified as first-generation reported they could not afford an unanticipated $500 expense but only 8% of all MA/MS respondents reported neither their family, nor themselves would be able to afford the same.
  • Financial pressures impacting academic areas of life: When asked if they experienced any financial pressures that impacted their academic activities, 46% of undergraduates reported that financial pressures impacted at least one academic area of their life. This included unpaid internships, unpaid research assistantships, volunteer opportunities, or study abroad programs.
  • Financial pressures in non-academic areas of life: The most commonly-reported non-academic financial issue among undergraduates was missing out on social events, with approximately half of undergraduate respondents stating they declined invitations to social events due to cost. Similarly, 52% of MA/MS respondents reported declining invitations to social events due to costs. And 70% of PhD respondents reported financial pressures in at least one non-academic area.


Students facing urgent financial needs are encouraged to reach out to university resources for assistance.

Undergraduate students:

The FLI Student Success Center provides advocacy, mentorship, and connections to resources for undergraduate students who identify as first-generation, low-income, transfer, and current/former foster youth.

Graduate students:

The university has created several programs specifically for graduate students dealing with challenging financial situations including an emergency grant-in-aid, a graduate housing loan, and a graduate family grant, among others.