Prev RANK: 16, Best Selective Colleges Next
Overall Score: 84.13

Cornell University

An unusual public-private hybrid, Cornell has a unique position in the Ivy League. New York State residents can enroll in its colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Industrial and Labor Relations, or Human Ecology, and pay about $20,000 a year less than the tuition charged by the rest of the university. Cornell is also the largest and typically the least selective of the Ivies, accepting about 11% of applicants into its 15,000-person undergraduate population. Cornell's private side includes a highly respected College of Arts & Sciences, as well as architecture and hotel administration programs that are considered leaders in their respective fields. Recent grads tend to find high-paying jobs and the median salary 10 years after enrolling is about $91,000, slightly higher than graduates of similar colleges, according to Money's calculations. Cornell celebrates a variety of campus traditions, one of the most beloved of which is Slope Day, a celebration of the end of winter that includes a "strolling competition" and musical performances by the likes of Steve Aoki and Kendrick Lamar. The university is located in one of the country's top college towns, Ithaca, and thanks partly to nearby Ithaca College, college-aged students comprise a large portion of the local population. There are numerous bars and restaurants, a good music scene and many opportunities for outdoor recreation.


Est. full price 2022-2023
% of students who get any grants
Est. price for students who receive aid
Average price for low-income students


Acceptance rate
Median SAT/ACT score
SAT/ACT required?
Undergraduate enrollment

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
% of need met
% of students who get merit grants
Average merit grant

Student Success

Graduation rate
Average time to a degree
4.1 years
Median student debt
Early career earnings
% earning more than a high school grad

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

More From Money’s College Team

  • Recent College News

    Recent College News

    Read the latest Money coverage on paying for college, succeeding on campus and transitioning to the working world.
  • How to Apply for the FAFSA

    How to Apply for the FAFSA

    The application is the gateway to billions of dollars in financial aid for college.
  • Best Student Loans

    Best Student Loans

    Learn all about private student loans with Money's expert guide.