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Rank: 2

Stanford University

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 at our No. 2 school features a stunning array of innovative and important thinkers, including 17 Nobel laureates, 31 MacArthur fellows, and four Pulitzer Prize winners. Stanford is the hardest school in the country to get into, accepting 4% 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 94% graduation rate, but its former students also founded Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and many other tech companies. Recent Stanford grads report earning average annual salaries of $72,700 to PayScale. At the same time, Stanford is generous with aid. Parents earning less than $65,000 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. 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.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
FALL 2020 PLAN: Almost all undergraduate instruction will be delivered remotely, with very limited in-person offerings. In mid-August, Stanford reversed previously announced plans to bring first- and second-year students back to live on campus.
costs
Est. Full Price 2020-2021
$73,400
% of students who get any grants
59%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$18,000
Average price for low-income students
$1,300
admissions
Acceptance rate
4%
Median SAT/ACT Score
1500/34
SAT/ACT Required for Fall 2021?
no
Enrollment
7,080
Financial Aid
% of students with need who get grants
96%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit* grants
N/A
Average merit grant
$13,250
student success
Graduation rate
94%
Average time to a degree
4.3 years
Average student debt
$11,340
Average salary within 5 years
$72,700
% earning more than $28,000
91%
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.

* Full price of attendance includes on-campus room & board fees, which may not be applicable to all colleges' reopening plans this year.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, Money/American Institutes for Research calculations, Opportunity Insights.

coronavirus update

FALL 2020 PLAN: Almost all undergraduate instruction will be delivered remotely, with very limited in-person offerings. In mid-August, Stanford reversed previously announced plans to bring first- and second-year students back to live on campus.

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

* Full price of attendance includes on-campus room & board fees, which may not be applicable to all colleges' reopening plans this year.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, Money/American Institutes for Research calculations, Opportunity Insights.

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