Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.68 / 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 than the previous), 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 and in person 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. A similar opportunity, the Inclusive Teaching Institute, is offered to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The CTI teaches an online course for all instructors, Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom. This course is now available in two versions: on campus and globally as a MOOC on edX.

Through Human Resources, there several opportunities for staff. 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. Additionally, there 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. There are also individual workshops and courses offered through HR with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
Through the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, a new program has been formed in for advising professionals across campus. This group of individuals is working with facilitators from the Intergroup Dialogue Project to discuss their work with students from a variety of the backgrounds. The group is meeting over the course of the academic year to understand issues of oppression and identity, self-exploration, and ultimately relating this to their work as advisors.

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.
Training and resources for staff are 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 Prefreshman Summer Program (PSP). 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 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 Prefreshman 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 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. This fall we launched the Morris B. Kessler Presidential Scholars program, to support and empower students from lower-income and first-generation backgrounds. This is a unique opportunity for twenty incoming first-year students to benefit from a close-knit community, financial support, peer mentoring, and personal and professional development opportunities for four years. At capacity, this program will support 80 Kessler Presidential Scholars. Additionally, the First Generation Student Union, a student-organization, coordinates events and mentoring opportunities to help first-generation, low-income students find a true sense of belonging and are able to thrive academically, socially, and professionally.

FGLI student support oversees the meal pass voucher and Swipe Out Hunger program to provide temporary support for students experiencing food insecurity to 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 and Assistant Director 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. Additionally, the EOP/HEOP student ambassadors will return to their respective high schools over breaks to talk about their experiences at Cornell and the support they have at Cornell. These students also actively share information and their experiences through social media, which serves as a tool for potential students to learn about the opportunities available.

The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) utilizes a full circle approach to education. Their full-time student support specialist and administrative staff are available year-round to help students accomplish their goals. AIISP is working with Cornell Admissions to open doors to promising futures for Haudenosaunee and other American Indian and Indigenous students. This recruitment is done through visits to high schools, academic conferences, and national organizations.

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).
Additionally, OADI provides programming for students from non-traditional and first-generation backgrounds. Each of the OADI advisors provides walk in hours and advising for students to help learn to navigate the campus and find resources. With OADIs main focus on the academic well-being and professional and career growth of students, OADI has strategic partnerships in the many offices across campus to help provide a network of support. Students are invited to participate in a wide variety of programs and offerings to create a strong and supportive academic community, demonstrate the breadth of opportunities available to students, and provide resources and access to partners for their success. 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.

Units in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, which includes 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.
Through the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Cornell has recently hired a full-time veterans advisor position. This advisor works closely with the students on the Veterans Summer 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. The Student Veterans Advisor provides support, advocacy, programming, and referral to our undergraduate student veterans while serving as a point of contact and direct link between them, 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 Association (CUVA), a veteran student organization, and the Veterans Colleague Network Group.

Additionally, the Dean of Students Office in Student and Campus Life has staff that supports first-generation and low-Income students. They work collaboratively with staff in OADI and other units across campus to help develop a sense of support and community for these students. 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.


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:

Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.