The total cost of attending graduate school includes tuition, fees, and health insurance, as well as books, room, board, supplies, travel, and other personal expenses.

  • Doctoral students (Ph.D.) receive competitive funding packages that include tuition, fees, Student Health Plan (SHP), and a stipend. Nearly 97% of Ph.D. students are fully funded through fellowships, assistantships, and generous supplements for certain types of external funding that the students may receive.
  • Master’s degree students receive limited financial assistance although this can vary widely by department and degree. Master’s students may be eligible for conference travel grants from the Graduate School, educational loans through the Financial Aid office, and competitive awards offered through their graduate field.

Admissions letters usually include details about your funding.

In Depth

Assistantships are a form of financial support awarded to research degree students.

  • The assistantship package includes a stipend, tuition, and the Student Health Plan (SHP).
  • Teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs) and graduate assistantships (GAs) require 15 hours per week, on average, of service and may not exceed 20 hours in any given week. The activities of these assistantships should be academic in nature.
  • Graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are a special type of assistantship used when the activities of the appointment directly align with a student’s own thesis or degree related research. In this case, no weekly time limits are defined because a student is expected to devote considerable time to research.
  • Learn more about assistantships.
  • Read Policy 1.3 Assistantships.

Fellowships are merit-based awards requiring no service, such as teaching or research, in return. Fellowships include tuition, stipend, and Student Health Plan (SHP). External fellowships are competitive, merit-based awards from organizations or government entities outside Cornell.

Stipends are payments made to students to help offset expenses such as housing, room, board, and supplies.

  • Fellowship stipends are paid through the bursar system and appear as refunds on student accounts in lump-sum payments near the beginning of the semester. Students should budget their resources for the semester. Take advantage of the Personal Finance Education resources available through the Graduate School.
  • Fellowship stipends are typically taxable and, because taxes are not withheld, students should plan accordingly for filing taxes later. See the student Tax FAQ for more information. Historically, stipends increase annually in response to inflation and cost of living changes.
  • Assistantship stipends are paid through Cornell payroll system on a semi-monthly basis near the 1st and 15th of each month. Applicable taxes are withheld. Historically, stipends increase annually in response to inflation and cost of living changes.
  • Some programs offer summer stipends. When offered, these follow the same requirements as academic year awards.
  • See current minimum stipend rates for nine-month stipends. Summer stipends are additional.

Loans are available from federally funded sources and private lenders. Only 4% of graduating doctoral degree students graduated with educational loans in 2016-2017. The percentage of professional master’s students who graduate with debt has been falling steadily since 2010.



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration