Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.84
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.66 / 4.00 Amy Godert
Executive Director
Academic Student Success Programs
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have policies and programs to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

The University provides what is known as need-based aid. This means that a calculation based on the information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) and Collegeboard’s CSS Profile is used to create a financial aid award for students. Based on these calculations, the University will provide aid to meet the full need of the student.
Additionally, the University also has developed three initiatives as it pertains to financial aid. The first is to assist with parent contributions from families based on income levels, the second is to support the reduction of student loan debt based on income levels, and the third is in support of students that are undocumented of DACA recipients. The first two are tiered programs and the third is for students that do not qualify for federal aid, all to assist in making Cornell more accessible.
The parent contribution initiative states “families with total income below $60,000 and total assets less than $100,000 (including primary home equity), will have no parent contribution and no loans in the initial aid package.”.
The loan initiative was updated for the 2018-2019 academic year. It currently states, for students who began their studies at Cornell before Fall 2018, a family with income below $60,000 will have a student aid package without a loan. If the income is slightly higher, between $60,001 and $75,000, the loans will be capped at $2,500. If the family income is between $75,001 and $120,000, the loan is capped at $5,000 in the package. And if the family income is above $120,000, the loan is capped at $7,500 in the package. For students that have begun their studies at Cornell in Fall 2018, the levels have been adjusted so that a family with income below $60,000 will have a student aid package without a loan. If the income is slightly higher, between $60,001 and $85,000 ($10,000 increase from previous), the loans will be capped at $2,500. If the family income is between $85,001 and $135,000 ($15,000 higher window), the loan is capped at $5,000 in the package. And if the family income is above $135,000 ($15,000 higher), the loan is capped at $7,500 in the package. All of these options make Cornell a very affordable institution for our neediest students.

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

The University has several offerings designed to support faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds. Through the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI), many resources are available online for faculty as they plan and design courses, syllabi, and teaching strategies. Staff from the office are available for consultation on issues and serve as resources. Additionally, CTI sponsors the Faculty Institute on Diversity, a three-day institute that brings faculty together to discuss issues related to diversity and how to incorporate and infuse them into all aspects of their teaching and has recently developed an online course, Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom.
Through Human Resources, there are two main initiatives. The first, Inclusive Excellence Academy, “offers programs designed to advance an inclusive education environment and workplace.” These workshops and programs are created for all levels and members of the University community focusing on various aspects of diversity and inclusion. Several of these events and workshops are focused on socio-economic status as well as social belonging. The second initiative is the Cornell Interactive Theater Ensemble (CITE). Through group theatric presentation and group facilitation, CITE uses real-life scenarios to train and help facilitate discussion for different members of the Cornell community on topics and diversity and inclusion including socio-economic factors and status.
Through the Ronald E. McNair Post-Bacc program, workshops have been offered for faculty mentors on working with the diverse backgrounds of the scholars and how to support them on their path to PhDs.
The Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives and the Office of Institutional Research and Planning regularly provide data to colleges and departments about the progress, retention, and achievement of students who are Pell-Grant eligible and those on financial aid in comparison with all other students.
Training and resources for staff are also provided through the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity.

A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Cornell is engaged in many activities and programs designed to support and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education. These programs and initiatives include:
• the Federal Trio Program Upward Bound;
• the New York State Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program and Higher Education Opportunity Program (EOP/HEOP);
• the New York State Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP);
• the Pre-Freshman Summer Program (PSP);
• scholarships for students to participate in Summer College;
• a local initiative Access to College Education (ACE); and
• application workshops through the Undergraduate Admissions Office and college admissions offices.
Upward Bound has the mission to prepare high school students from low-income, first generation backgrounds. Similarly, STEP is designed to increase the number of economically disadvantaged applicants into postsecondary degree programs in scientific, technical, health-related fields, and the licensed professions. Both of these programs are housed in the Public Service Center as the Pre-College Programs. Through the work of these programs, staff meet regularly with students and families in local high schools, provide weekend and summer experiences for students to gain the skills and exposure to the potential of post-secondary education, and support the students through the application and financial aid processes.
Through recruitment initiatives, the staff of the Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program and Higher Education Opportunity Program (EOP/HEOP) work with prospective students and families to understand the application process and financial aid process for the University. Through high school visitations, college fairs, bus trips to campus, as well as electronically through webinars and phone calls, the staff walk families and students through the process. These sessions typically cover topics including how to apply to the University, how to prepare for the process, what forms and information will be needed for the application process, and how to access services and what resources to look for once a student enrolls.
Another program that works with low-income students to prepare for college is the Pre-Freshman Summer program. While not every student enrolled in the program is from a low-income background, many of the students are. This program is designed to be a bridge program for students to aid in the preparation and transition and from high school to college. This is a requirement for students enrolled in Cornell through the Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) for low-income NYS residents. These two programs are administered in conjunction with the seven undergraduate colleges and schools through the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) and Learning Strategies Center (LSC). NYS residents from low-income backgrounds who are considered academically underprepared are selected for the program and through financial and academic support are given admission to Cornell. The Pre-Freshman Summer Program helps to prepare them for the academic year.
Cornell has several scholarship programs for high school students from low-income backgrounds to attend our residential Summer College, and we also partner with the Telluride Foundation on campus to bring a similar cohort of students to that summer program.
Cornell takes part in a local initiative called Access to College Education (ACE). ACE is a collaborative partnership between 12 area school districts and four local colleges/universities. Over the course of the year, students and families are introduced to various avenues available to them for higher education. Each of the institutions hosts students for a half day workshop to include information on financial aid, admissions, the college selection process, and specific details about the college. These workshops are led by staff from the universities and student panelists.
Additionally, through the Undergraduate Admissions Office and college admissions offices, Cornell provides application workshops across the country for students of a variety of backgrounds. These include step by step instructions on how to complete the Common Application, Universal College Application, as well as the FAFSA. These workshops are conducted by University admissions officers and are designed to support students and families in the complex nature of the admissions process. https://sce.cornell.edu/precollege/students/prep/admissions-workshops

First-Generation & Low-Income (FGLI) student support is intended to promote identity exploration, community, advocacy and empowerment for all students who identify with the first-generation and/or low-income student experience. Our work is grounded in a holistic, intersectional approach to foster an educational environment for FGLI students to succeed and thrive at Cornell. FGLI student support aims to promote and centralize academic and social resources to remove institutional barriers to allow, first-generation and/or low-income students to benefit from an inclusive and transformational educational experience. FGLI student support oversees a food insecurity voucher program to help students who are experiencing food insecurity obtain meals on campus. Additionally, the office administers the ACCESS Fund to provide enrolled full-time Cornell students with access to financial support for emergency expenses, basic necessities, and transformative experiences not covered through financial aid or other university resources. The fund is also intended to off-set a short-term financial need and is not intended to replace or supplement financial aid. Funds are awarded as grants and do not need to be repaid.


A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

Cornell’s financial aid is all need-based. We do not offer merit scholarships. We do have financial aid initiatives that address how we award financial aid. See the above information about our initiatives and refer to our website at https://finaid.cornell.edu/cost-attend/financial-aid-initiatives.

A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

Cornell makes direct-targeted outreach through several offices and programs. Through the NYS Opportunity Programs (EOP/HEOP), the Director, Assistant Director, and Senior Advisor travel across NYS recruiting. Some of these visits are coordinated through high school guidance counselors with students they identify as having high financial need. Additionally, staff travel to various college fairs across the state to meet with students. Efforts are also coordinated to meet students through community based organizations in which relationships have been established; these organizations understand the mission of EOP/HEOP and help to organize the introduction of students that would be economically eligible and therefore come from low-income backgrounds. During these visits, staff discuss EOP/HEOP and financial aid with prospective students. The office also works collaboratively with the Undergraduate Admissions Office to coordinate trips, materials, and outreach across the state as well as participate in any on-campus bus trips from agencies and high schools. Additional efforts have been made to offer workshops and information sessions about EOP/HEOP through webinars in which students can register. These webinars are advertised to high schools, community based organizations, and through the OADI webpage.
The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) also hosts a yearly recruitment and engagement weekend for native students. "Promising Futures" is a weekend workshop for students that exposes them to information about Cornell as well as admissions, financial aid, and opportunity programs. Staff from each of these offices meets with students over the weekend to talk about the opportunities that exist at Cornell. Individual college admission teams also have targeted outreach efforts.
The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment has a joint senior assistant director position with the Undergraduate Admissions Office specifically dedicated to the support students from underrepresented, including low-income, backgrounds. This person works with students through the application process, supporting the students and family with the timely completion of all materials. Additionally, in January, the senior assistant director and director of student opportunity programs in OADI, offer two “Affordable Cornell” webinars for families that are interested in learning more about the financial aid process, how to complete all of the paperwork, and to learn more about EOP/HEOP. These sessions provide insight and support for families to help them in completing the process and understanding how all of the components work.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

The Pre Professional Programs (P3) is a programming and support initiative housed in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives for the purpose of recruiting, preparing and graduating historically underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and Professional fields. This program encompasses the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), which is a sister program of STEP, and is also a NYS grant funded initiative.
Additionally, OADI provides programming for students from non-traditional and first-generation backgrounds A particular focus is on first-generation college students through the "First In Class" as well as non-traditional students through the "Trailblazers" programs. Each of these programs offer regular workshops and meetings to provide support to students and assist them in navigating higher education. OADI also provides funding support for students involved in the programs to be able to obtain experiences through research, internships, and other professional development ventures. Additionally, OADI has funding resources available for students in emergency situations.
The Learning Strategies Center also provides financial assistance to eligible students who need to fulfill specific requirements to stay on track for graduation. This support is critical for students who are advised to take a reduced course load or who may not be able to afford academic enrichment opportunities integral to their disciplinary studies.

Does the institution have policies and programs to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of the institution’s scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

Cornell does not have scholarships for part-time students, except through its employee tuition program and its summer college pipeline scholarships.

A brief description of the institution’s on-site child care facility, partnership with a local facility, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

There is an on-site child care center managed by Bright Horizons Family Solutions. This venue provides child care support for children from 6 weeks to 5 years. The service is open to all Cornell faculty, staff, and students and there is a fee for the service. Cornell students with dependents can apply for a grant to assist with the cost of childcare. Moreover, there is a Dependent Care Consultant available for students to explore childcare options.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

The Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) offers programming that encompasses non-traditional students. Programming and support are given to students who are adult learners, students with dependents, veterans/active military, and first-generation students.

OADI partners with our colleagues in the Dean of Students Diversity and Inclusion (DOS D&I) group to support our first-generation and non-traditional students. The DOS D&I group recently hired a veteran’s advocate position to help support veterans and active military students on campus, a group that is part of our non-traditional student portfolio. This advocate works closely with the students on a veteran’s bridge program and throughout their time at Cornell to make sure they are applying for and accessing all of the opportunities they have available to them through their benefits. Additionally, the advocate works with the staff in OADI to host and support a welcome reception for students to make sure they are connected to the community and understand the resources that are available to them.
Additionally, DOS D&I, has also recently hired a Director for First Generation and Low-Income Student Support. This position works collaboratively with the staff in OADI and other departments across campus to help develop a sense of support and community for first-generation students. While OADI has a distinct focus on the academic welfare and success of first-generation students, the DOS D&I director position works to help facilitate the climate and student affairs support for the first generation community. They partner with colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences who have received funding to create a support program for first-generation college students in the college, and have developed a summer experience for students to participate in to assist in the transition for the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Student Veterans Advocate office provides support, advocacy, programming, and referral to our undergraduate student veterans while serving as a point of contact and direct link between you, Cornell, the VA Regional Office, Department of Defense, and other federal, state, and local veterans’ agencies and organizations. The office staff member works closely with the leadership of the Cornell University Veterans Alliance, a veteran student organization


Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (tracking accessibility and affordability)? (If data is not available, select 'No'):

The percentage of entering students that are low-income (0-100):

The graduation/success rate for low-income students (0-100):

On average, the percentage of need that was met for students who were awarded any need-based aid (e.g. as reported to the U.S. Common Data Set initiative, item H2) (0-100):

The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt or for whom no out-of-pocket tuition is required (i.e. the percentage of graduates who have not taken out interest-bearing loans) (0-100):

Estimated percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students (0-100):

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.