Initiative: Undergraduate Financial Aid

The promise of opportunity

Since our founding, Stanford has envisioned a more equitable, vibrant future—for our university and for the world.

One of the most impactful ways we can realize this vision is by removing barriers to higher education, drawing talented individuals to Stanford, regardless of their economic background.

Financial aid makes it possible for thousands of students to attend Stanford each year. It connects Stanford’s accomplished and diverse student body with opportunities for self-discovery, academic exploration, and deep and meaningful relationships. It is a bridge that spans socioeconomic divides, geographical boundaries, and differences in perspective and experience.

Our commitment to meeting students’ full demonstrated financial need is costly—and the need is increasing. The partnership of alumni, parents, and friends in providing additional support for Stanford’s undergraduates has never been more valuable.

When the sky is the limit.

Preparing undergraduates to live, work, and serve as meaningful contributors to society is central to our mission—and achieving this means keeping the Stanford experience both accessible and affordable to all.

  • Liyah Ernest, ’26

  • Kai Mottley, ’26

  • Alexandra Yepifanova, ’25

  • Jack Mao, ’25

Preparing citizens

Preparing undergraduates to live, work, and serve as meaningful contributors to society is central to our mission—and achieving this means keeping the Stanford experience both accessible and affordable to all.

Expanding our financial aid program is essential to giving students from all backgrounds the opportunity to explore broadly, learn experientially, wrestle with alternative perspectives, and develop their own framework for understanding.

We strive to provide students with a firm foundation from which to navigate life’s big questions. Through programs such as Civic, Liberal, and Global Education (“COLLEGE”) and Cardinal Service, as well as a variety of options for research and overseas learning, Stanford students gain the knowledge, skills, and empathy to become better citizens in their communities—and act for the good of the world.

“If you want students to make the world a better place through public service, you have to start with the cost of their education, especially for those who need it most,” says Michael McFaul, ’86, MA ’86, Director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, The Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, and The Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. 

Voices from the Farm

  • Jenny Martinez

    Provost, Professor of Law
  • Karen Cooper

    Associate Dean and Director of Financial Aid

The history of undergrad support

Maintaining Stanford’s long-standing commitment to accessibility and affordability stands among the university’s greatest achievements and its highest priorities for the future.

In response to increasing student need, we have made significant aid enhancements over time that benefit undergraduates from both low- and middle-income families. Our need-blind admission policy guarantees that qualified U.S. applicants will be accepted based strictly on their merits, not on their ability to pay.

When our graduates can focus on making meaningful contributions to society—without the burden of student loan payments—we all benefit. 

Stanford forecasts an ongoing need for new financial aid resources as the number of students qualifying for full tuition, room, and board increases—and more families face economic challenges. 

  • 87 percent

    of students graduate without any student debt.

  • 48 percent

    of undergraduates receive need-based aid from Stanford, and roughly 66 percent receive some form of financial aid from internal and external sources, including athletic scholarships.

  • 20 percent

    of undergraduates are the first in their family to attend a four-year college or university.

  • 31 percent

    of undergraduates receive a need-based scholarship that fully covers tuition.

Student spotlight

Stanford is teeming with truly remarkable undergraduates. Get to know two of them.

A health hero’s journey

Larissa Scott, ’25, may be on the Farm, but her heart remains about 1,000 miles to the east. “We’re all family in that area,” she says. “Even if we’re not really related, we’re still family.” 

A proud member of the Navajo and Winnebago Nations, Scott is committed to improving public health conditions on the Navajo reservation near her small hometown in New Mexico. 

“Where I’m from, there’s limited access to water and sanitation,” she says. “That’s not widely known.” 

Scott plans to pursue a degree in human biology and then attend medical school, focusing on rural health care. She chose Stanford for her undergraduate studies because she felt that the programs, classes, and mentors available at the university could best guide her through her academic journey. 

“Stanford does a really good job of giving you the option to explore different paths, and I really enjoy that,” she says. 

Scott is especially motivated after having seen Navajo reservation community members struggle to get access to vaccines and food during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I really want to bring awareness to those issues and find ways that I can help. For example, during the pandemic I started a donation fund, and we brought out necessities like toilet paper and food and delivered them to some of the different communities and families. Bringing health care, bringing aid—that’s what I’m interested in.” 

Larissa smiles wearing native jewelry

Larissa Scott, ’25, is a member of the Stanford Powwow Planning Committee, Diné Club (a Navajo community student group), Stanford Women in Medicine, and the Stanford intramural volleyball program. 

Juan smiles on campus

Juan Camara, ’25, of Novato, California, is a U.S. Army veteran and a student staff member at Stanford’s El Centro Chicano y Latino. He is passionate about marine biology and hopes to attend law school and advocate for government policies to protect the environment.

A veteran’s call to service

Juan Camara, ’25, describes his path to Stanford as the “scenic route.” Others might call it a “service road.” 

“One of the things that I really care about is being useful to others,” he says. “It led me to join the military because I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself, and I’ve carried that throughout my life.” 

After completing his military commitment, Camara set his sights on higher education. While working two jobs and attending community college, he realized his true academic talent and potential. Of the multiple options he had upon graduating, he chose Stanford. 

“Being a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, being raised by a single mother and working class, having served in the military—not choosing Stanford would’ve been a disservice to those who came before me to allow for me to be here,” he says. 

Camara hopes to continue being of service by pursuing a career in law or holding government office and eventually supporting other students. 

“The folks who are contributing to my dreams, to my aspirations for receiving a higher education, working on all these goals and passions that I have, they are helping me so much, beyond imagination. It’s something that, one day, I truly hope to be able to do—help others pursue their dreams.” 

students behind open double doors work together at a table

Opening doors to international students

Stanford aspires to extend the promise of need-blind admission to international students.

Students from other countries have added vibrancy to the Stanford community since it opened its doors, sharing diverse languages, traditions, and perspectives with our campus. In the 21st century, Stanford’s commitment to benefiting society means more than educating the next generation in the United States—it means training future leaders from across the globe.

These students bring academic excellence and valuable insights that benefit everyone on campus. For example, students from countries dealing with refugee crises or climate change-related rises in sea levels are uniquely informed about these issues. Textbooks and lectures are no substitute for their voices and experiences. Beyond their impact at Stanford, international alumni often go on to make a difference in their home countries as scientists, business leaders, policymakers, artists, and more.

But too few receive financial aid. 

Every year, more than 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries apply to Stanford. When an international student submits their application, they must check a box that isn’t required for domestic students: “Do you intend to pursue need-based financial aid?”

Thanks to support from many generous donors, the university’s financial aid budget for international students is now almost 10 times what it was in 1996, but for most students who check “yes,” there still is not enough funding available to meet their needs. Today about one in three international students receive aid. This is a missed opportunity for students—and a loss for Stanford. The reality is that students who are priced out of Stanford can take their talents to other institutions that offer them more generous scholarships.

With your support, we can help more international students—regardless of their financial status—reach their potential at Stanford. The results can be transformative not only for students and their families, but for Stanford and the world. Help unlock the Stanford experience for the next generation of world citizens and leaders.

Stories:Scholarship dollars and change

We are preparing students to live, work, and serve as thoughtful citizens through groundbreaking new curricula, enhanced resources, and financial aid.

The second envelope

For political science professor Michael McFaul, getting admitted to Stanford was only the first step.

the moment

for Undergraduate Financial Aid

With your help, we can expand financial aid for future generations of students who bring the passion, focus, and determination to create a more just and sustainable world that will benefit us all.

Explore more:Initiatives

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