Cornell University

Cornell University Student Enrollment Information

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is an Ivy League school that offers undergraduate and graduate programs. Read about the pros and cons of the school, plus ranking, tuition and admission information.

Is Cornell University the School for You?

Founded in 1865, Cornell was called the 'first American university' by educational historian Frederick Rudolph. Cornell houses the first colleges dedicated to industrial and labor relations, hotel administration and veterinary medicine. In addition to its New York campus, Cornell also has programs in Washington, D.C., and throughout the world. Read about the pros and cons of attending Cornell.


  • Ivy League school that was ranked in the top 20 national universities in 2014
  • Graduation rate is 47 percentage points higher than the national average
  • Student debt following graduation was $8,910 lower than the national average in 2012
  • Three-year cohort default rate is 11.8 percentage points lower than the national average.


  • Total cost is $18,121 higher than the national average for 4-year private schools
  • Acceptance rate is 47.8 percentage points lower than the national average

Rankings & School Analysis

Cornell is a private university and a member of the Ivy League. This university was ranked #16 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2014. At Cornell, you have over 80 majors, 90 minors and 108 graduate fields of study to choose from.

Cornell is a competitive school, and of the almost 40,000 2013 applicants, only 16% were accepted, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This acceptance rate is much lower than the 2011 average of 63.8% published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Students who achieve acceptance to Cornell and decide to enroll are likely to graduate. According to NCES statistics, 87% of bachelor's degree seeking students who enrolled in 2005 graduated within four years. This is 47% higher than national average published by U.S. News for students who enrolled in 4-year schools in 2005.

Although the total cost for attending Cornell is much higher than average, students have lower than average debt at graduation and lower than average student loan default rates. According to NCES, the total cost to attend Cornell for the 2013-2014 academic year was $59,038. This includes tuition, fees and on-campus living expenses. The national average for 4-year, private, non-profit schools for that academic year was $40,917, according to the College Board.

Despite the higher-than-average cost, the Project of Student Debt reported that Cornell's class of 2012 had an average debt of $20,490 and that the average debt for the class of 2012 was $29,400 for students in all types of 4-year schools. Additionally, according to NCES data, Cornell students had a 1.6% 3-year loan default rate in 2009, and the U.S. Department of Education published the national average for that year as 13.4%, a difference of over 11 percentage points.

Getting In & Financial Aid at Cornell University

Cornell focuses on academics and test scores in its undergraduate admissions process. The admissions committee also considers the background, interests, aspirations and extracurricular achievements of its potential students. The university puts great emphasis on students' admissions essays and recommendations and does not consider financial need when making admissions decisions.

You can apply to Cornell online via the Common Application or Universal College Application. In addition to one of those applications, you'll need to submit an essay and a supplemental application, which includes important Cornell-specific information.

The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment at Cornell works closely with students and their parents to design individualized financial aid packages based on students' financial circumstances. The university has several financial aid initiatives designed to help students from low income families attend this school.

Application and Tuition Info
Regular Application Deadline (2014) January 9*
Financial Aid Application Deadline (2014) February 15*
Notification of Acceptance (2014) Early April*
Application Fee (2014) $75*
Acceptance Rate (2013) 16%**
Tuition & Fees (2013-2014) $45,358**
Average Financial Aid Package (2012) $42,309***
Percent of Students with Need Met (date not available) 100%****
Average Student Debt at Graduation (date not available) $20,577****
Student Loan Default Rate (2010) 2.2%**

Student Life at Cornell University

Cornell offers several options for on-campus housing and dining. Cornell also has over 30 collegiate athletic teams, including track, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball and swimming, to name a few. Additionally, Cornell boasts over 1,000 clubs and organizations that you can join, including Greek organizations, community service clubs and outreach programs.

Cornell Career Services (CCS) offers assistance with career exploration and academic advising, as well as internship, fellowship and job searches. The program also offers a library of general information and specialized resources for a variety of fields of study. CCS operates a centralized office on campus, as well as sites in the individual colleges and graduate school.

Student Life Info
Campus Setting Rural
Student Population (2012) 14,261 undergraduates and 7,163 graduate students**
Male-to-Female Student Ratio (2012) 49% to 51%**
% of Full Time Students (2012) 100%**
% of In-state Students (2012) 29%**
% of International Students (2012) 9%**
Retention Rate (2012) 96%**
Campus Housing Available Yes*
% of Students Living on Campus (2012) 57%***
Number of Libraries 21*
Extracurricular Activities Over 1,000*
Noteworthy The world's first degree in journalism was awarded by Cornell*

Sources: *Cornell University, **NCES, ***U.S News, ****College Board.