Best Colleges in America 2022
college_name
Prev RANK: 3, Best Selective Colleges Next
Overall Score: 95.71

Stanford University

Parents and students have both named Stanford University their top dream college – the school they most wished they (or 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 here features a stunning array of innovative and important thinkers, including 20 Nobel laureates, more than 20 MacArthur fellows, and three Pulitzer Prize winners. Stanford is one of the hardest schools in the country to get into, accepting less 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. Not only does Stanford have a 96% graduation rate, but its former students also founded Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and many other tech companies. At the same time, Stanford is generous with aid. Parents earning less than $75,000 are not expected to contribute anything to their students' college costs; those earning less than $150,000 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. Campus 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 2022-2023
$80,400
% of students who get any grants
61%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$21,100
Average price for low-income students
$1,230

Admissions

Acceptance rate
4%
Median SAT/ACT score
1510/34
SAT/ACT required?
No
Undergraduate enrollment
6,990

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
99%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit grants
N/A
Average merit grant
N/A

Student Success

Graduation rate
94%
Average time to a degree
4.3 years
Median student debt
$12,000
Early career earnings
$97,800
% earning more than a high school grad
84%

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.