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Undergraduate Support: Endowed Scholarships

Stanford’s long-standing practice of need-blind admission is backed by a promise to meet the full demonstrated need of all U.S. undergraduates throughout their four years on campus. Only a handful of colleges and universities can uphold such a pledge.

This promise of access to every qualified student is a vital part of Stanford’s identity. Scholarship funds endowed in perpetuity are the foundation of this commitment. By establishing an endowed need-based scholarship, you can:

  • Support a community that includes diverse insights, perspectives, and questions

  • Open doors to life-changing opportunities

  • Benefit the world, as graduates from all walks of life become leaders in their communities and their workplaces

Staying accessible

Recent enhancements to Stanford’s financial aid program affirm the university’s pledge to provide access to students across the economic spectrum:

  • Students from families earning less than $65,000 a year pay no tuition, room, or board. In 2021–22, that threshold will increase to $75,000, providing aid to additional families.

  • Students from families earning less than $150,000 a year do not pay tuition.

  • Many students from families with higher incomes (particularly those with more than one child in college) also qualify for financial aid assistance.

  • Students are not required to take out loans, making it possible for all aid recipients to graduate debt free.

A critical and accelerating need

Today, approximately half of Stanford undergraduates depend on need-based aid from the university. As families come to terms with the full impact of the pandemic on their lives and incomes, we fully expect that more students will have an even greater need for financial assistance. In addition, the percentage of students requiring aid, as well as the overall amount of aid granted to students, is likely to increase substantially as Stanford seeks to further diversify its population.

  • Stanford has nearly tripled its funding for need-based financial aid since 2006.

  • In recent years, Stanford has relied on a larger share of the university’s general funds to meet the growing need for financial aid, redirecting resources that would otherwise be available for other educational and research priorities.

  • For the next three to five years, the combined funding from endowed scholarships and expendable gifts like The Stanford Fund still leaves a projected shortfall of approximately $40-$50 million per year.

Stanford’s commitment to need-blind admission stands firm. That is why raising endowed scholarships remains one of the university’s highest fundraising priorities.

A named endowed scholarship fund can be established with a gift of $250,000. This provides partial funding for one student in the fund’s first year. Endowed funds of $1 million meet the full financial needs of one to two students annually. As a fund’s value increases over time, it will support more students.

A new matching funds initiative

To magnify the impact of donor support for students, the university is mounting a significant drive seeking gifts that will simultaneously fund current-use Stanford Fund Scholarships along with endowed need-based scholarships.

  • Signaling the importance of this scholarship fundraising effort, the university has committed an initial $25 million in matching funds, at a ratio of 1:2 (match amount to donor amount). The university match will be added to the donor’s endowed fund. Over time, the intention is to seek additional outside matching fund support to further expand this initiative’s impact on Stanford students. (Note: The match also applies to current-use Buck/Cardinal Scholarships combined with endowed athletic scholarships.)

    Minimum donor gift to qualify for university matching funds:

    • $500,000

    • $250,000 for recent grads (alumni 15 or fewer years from their undergraduate graduation year)

    Maximum individual gift (per donor household) that will be matched:

    • $5 million

    How the match works to increase student support:
    The donor’s gift will be split between funds for annual scholarships (25 percent) and endowed permanent scholarships (75 percent). The university match will be added to the donor’s endowed fund.

    For example, for a donor gift of $1 million (with a university match of $500,000):

    • $250,000 is directed to annual Stanford Fund Scholarships.

    • $750,000 is directed to the donor’s endowed fund.

    • $500,000 university match is applied to the endowed fund.

    • $1.25 million is the total endowed fund, after match.

    This gift will provide:

    • Ten one-year Stanford Fund Scholarships grants (total over five years)*

    • Support the full demonstrated need for one to two students each year in perpetuity**

    * Based on Stanford Fund Scholarship award of $25K.

    ** Based on annual fund payout of 5.5% and average scholarship award of $52K. Because award amounts vary based on each student’s demonstrated need, the number of recipients supported will vary. As the endowed fund’s value increases over time, the fund may support more students.


What your support means to students

I come from a low-income family and joined the Army after high school with the hope that someday I could afford college. Never did I expect to have the privilege of attending Stanford. Thanks to scholarship support, I am part of a community that cultivates my love for learning and encourages me to improve the world.

Tina Wong, ’22