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Rank: 6

Stanford University

Stanford, CAwww.stanford.edu/
Parents have named Stanford University their top dream college -- the school they most wished their student could attend if cost and acceptance were not issues -- in a Princeton Review survey for most of the past decade. Part of the draw: The faculty features a stunning array of innovative and important thinkers, including 17 Nobel laureates, 32 MacArthur fellows, and four Pulitzer Prize winners. Stanford is the hardest school in the country to get into, accepting fewer than 5% of applicants. Once there, the educational demands can be intense. Students often describe themselves as "ducks," because they try to appear serene while paddling desperately to keep going (there's also a popular Facebook group for students called "Stanford University Places I've Cried"). But the results speak for themselves, especially in nearby Silicon Valley. Former Stanford students founded Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and many other tech companies. Recent Stanford grads report earning average annual salaries of $76,500 to PayScale, about 21% more than the average reported by graduates of similarly selective colleges. But at the same time, Stanford is generous with aid. It recently raised the size of grants for low- and moderate-income students. Parents earning less than $65,000 are not expected to contribute anything to their students' college costs; those earning less than $125,000 aren't expected to pay tuition. Stanford's Mission-style campus is vast, and most students use bicycles to get around. An NCAA Division I school, Stanford has a longstanding football rivalry with the University of California-Berkeley. Traditions include the Halloween Mausoleum Party, which is held at the Stanford Mausoleum, the burial site of Leland Stanford Jr. His father, a California governor and railroad baron, founded the university in his memory after the boy died at age 15.
costs
Est. Full Price 2019-2020
$72,200
% of students who get any grants
60%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$17,700
Average price for low-income students
N/A
admissions
Acceptance rate
5%
Median SAT/ACT Score
1470/34
SAT/ACT required?
Yes
Enrollment
7,056
Financial Aid
% of students with need who get grants
97%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit* grants
N/A
Average merit grant
$10,434
student success
Graduation rate
94%
Average time to a degree
4.3 years
Average student debt
$11,450
Average salary within 3 years
$76,500
% of low-income students who become upper middle class
63%
key deadlines
Early decision application
Nov 1
Regular application
Jan 3

* Share of full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations, Opportunity Insights.

* Share of full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations, Opportunity Insights.

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