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What Are Ivy League Schools?

Get to know the 8 ivy league schools in the U.S.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 27, 2023

What Are Ivy League Schools?
Why is the Ivy League so special? Read on to find out.
<a href="">Ivy League schools have a long-standing reputation of being the best schools in the country. Some existed long before America was officially a country, making them some of the oldest colleges as well. Many students assume that Ivy League schools are expensive and difficult to get into. While that can be true, it shouldn’t prevent students from researching and applying to these schools. Before you begin, get to know the Ivy League schools a little better.

What is the Ivy League?

The 8 Ivy League schools were initially given their designation to include them all in an athletic conference. However, the term “Ivy League” has gone well past the bounds of athletic differentiation. What makes a school Ivy League? Now, its use has undertones of academic excellence, selective admissions rates, and even social elitism. These are the colleges that produce presidents, CEOs, and some of the wealthiest individuals in the country.

Ivy League Schools

The Ivy League is comprised of the following eight colleges and universities: • Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey • Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts • Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut • Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island
• Cornell University – Ithaca, New York • Columbia University – New York City, New York • Dartmouth College – Hanover, New Hampshire • University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ivy League School Tuition

According to CBS News, Ivy League tuition is at an all-time high, pushing nearly $90,000 a year. Compare that to the average annual in-state tuition at public colleges, which is roughly $11,000, and it’s hard to imagine anyone paying for an Ivy. Although an Ivy League education comes with a hefty price tag, it’s rare for any student to actually pay that price. Because of their prestige and successful alumni, Ivy League schools have incredibly large endowments. An endowment fund is comprised of charitable donations made to the school, and it’s from this fund that a majority of scholarships and financial aid opportunities are awarded. Below, you’ll be able to see how each school’s endowment helps to alleviate the cost of attending these elite schools.

Ivy League Acceptance Rates

The Ivy League schools receive tens of thousands of admission applications each year. Each school only admits a few thousand. Given those numbers, acceptance rates into these schools are extremely low. You’ll find a more detailed overview of each school’s acceptance rate below.

Princeton University

Princeton University is the fourth oldest college in the country. It was chartered before the American Revolution. Though it was originally established as a seminary, today its mission is to serve the greater good through educating its students. The most sought-after majors at Princeton include Social Sciences, Engineering, and Computer and Information Sciences.

Princeton Acceptance Rate

This year, Princeton has withheld admissions statistics for the incoming class. However, last admissions season, approximately 38,019 applications were received, and 2,167 students were accepted, according to Crimson Education.

Princeton Tuition

The cost of attending Princeton University, which includes tuition, room and board, and other miscellaneous expenses, is $83,140 for the 2023 – 24 academic year. The average grant for a Princeton student is $62,200, which covers 100% of tuition. Finally, students with family incomes that are less than $160,000 annually pay no tuition.

Harvard University

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the oldest college in the United States. Because of its age, academic rigor, and prestige, it has long been regarded as the best school in the country. Eight presidents, as well as countless other high-profile politicians, have graduated from Harvard, so it’s no surprise that Political Science and Government are one of the most popular majors. It’s also regarded for its Economics, Social Sciences, Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology majors.

Harvard Acceptance Rate

The Class of 2026 is comprised of 1,984 students selected out of 61,221 applications. Harvard has an acceptance rate of roughly 4%.

Harvard Tuition

Tuition at Harvard is $79,450 for the 2023 – 24 academic year. This total includes room and board and student fees. Harvard states that 55% of the student body receives need-based Harvard scholarships. Additionally, families with income levels below $85,000 are not expected to contribute to the cost of education at all.

Yale University

Yale University was founded in 1701 and is part of one of the nine colonial colleges that was chartered before the American Revolution. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is known for its cutting-edge research in the sciences as well as for having the country’s best performing arts and literature programs.

Yale Acceptance Rate

This year, Yale marked its lowest acceptance rate ever at 4.35%. Approximately 52,250 students applied, and only 2,275 were accepted.

Yale Tuition

The annual cost of attending Yale for the 2023 – 24 academic year is $83,880. This includes room and board as well as indirect costs, such as books, course materials, equipment, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses. Financial aid is distributed according to family income levels. For those families with an income of $75,000 or lower, 100% of tuition and fees are covered as well as housing, the meal plan, and travel. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 25% of families who have an income range over $250,000 annually receive financial assistance. The median scholarship amount for this group is $28,881.

Brown University

Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and like many of the other Ivy League schools, it was established before the American Revolution. It is home to the oldest applied mathematics and engineering programs in the country. Today, the most popular majors include Computer Science, Economics, and Applied Mathematics.

Brown Acceptance Rate

Last admissions cycle, Brown received 50,649 applications for admission and admitted 2,560 students. Their acceptance rate was 5%.

Brown Tuition

Brown University is one of the most expensive Ivy League schools, totaling $88,948 for the 2023 – 24 school year. For families with an annual income below $60,000, the average aid offer is $80,013. For families with an annual income over $200,000, the average aid package is $28,655. The Brown Promise is a financial aid commitment that the university will not include any student loans in their packages, making aid packages consist of need-based scholarships, grants, and work study only.

Cornell University

Cornell is a relatively new Ivy – compared to its counterparts. Established in 1865, it’s located in Ithaca, New York. Cornell is most known for its Computer Science, Biological Sciences, and Industrial and Labor Relations programs.

Cornell Acceptance Rate

Like Princeton, Cornell University has withheld the number of applications it received this year; however, the school admitted 4,908 students out of 71,000 applications for the Class of 2026, according to Crimson Education. Its acceptance rate is a little more generous compared to other Ivy League schools at about 7%.

Cornell Tuition

The average annual cost of attending Cornell is $88,150. This figure includes fees, housing, the meal plan, books and supplies, and personal expenses. While this number is on the higher end, Cornell has a generous endowment, just like the other Ivies. For families that make below $60,000 annually, the school will meet need without utilizing student loans. Families in this category are also not expected to contribute at all financially, meaning the school covers the cost of tuition. Additionally, Cornell hopes to win students from other Ivy and prestigious competitors. If an applicant receives a better financial aid or merit scholarship package from other Ivies, MIT, Duke, or Stanford, Cornell will match the offer.

Columbia University

Columbia University in the City of New York has royal roots. It was chartered by King George II of Great Britain in 1754, and some of its former students include John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. Like many of the other Ivies, its most popular majors include Computer Science, Economics, and Political Science and Government. Despite the fact that its located in one of the largest cities in the world, it prides itself on the small class sizes and intimate learning environment.

Columbia Acceptance Rate

Admissions at Columbia University is very competitive. Approximately 2,246 students were offered admissions out of 57,129 applications to comprise the Class of 2027, making its acceptance rate 3.9%.

Columbia Tuition

The total cost of attendance at Columbia is $85,967. This figure includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, and personal expenses. Students with an annual family income that is less than $150,000 are able to attend Columbia tuition-free. Nearly 50% of students receive grants from Columbia, and the average amount is $63,971. Incoming first-year students from low-income families also receive a $2,000 grant to help ease the transition into college.

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is a private research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. Like many of the other Ivy League schools, it was founded before the American Revolution. Its history as a research university still drives academics and major choice today. Some of its most popular majors include Biology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics, and Political Science and Government.

Dartmouth Acceptance Rate

Compared to other Ivy League schools, the application pool was smaller for the Class of 2026, coming in at 28,336. They admitted only 1,808 students, making the acceptance rate 6.4%. Dartmouth reports that 46% of admits were Early Decision applicants.

Dartmouth Tuition

The total cost of attendance at Dartmouth is $87,793. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses. Like other colleges, financial aid eligibility varies from student to student. Those students with an annual family income below $65,000 are not expected to pay any tuition costs. The average scholarship award for the Class of 2026 was $66,818.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, or UPenn, was founded in 1749 in the city of Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. As such, it is one of the oldest colleges in the country, like most other Ivy League schools. UPenn is known for its Business, Law, Medicine, and Engineering programs.

University of Pennsylvania Acceptance Rate

This past admissions season, UPenn received over 59,000 applications, its largest number ever. To make up the Class of 2027, 2,400 students were admitted. Their acceptance rate was 4.1%.

University of Pennsylvania Tuition

UPenn is officially the most expensive Ivy League school to attend, totaling approximately $89,028. This includes tuition, fees, housing, food, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. Students with annual family income less than $75,000 receive grant aid that covers the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board. Applicants with family incomes between $75,000 and $140,000 receive grant aid that covers tuition. Families that make over $140,000 receive aid packages that cover half of tuition. Roughly 18% of students receiving need-based aid took out loans to supplement their aid packages.

Applying to an Ivy League School

If you’re considering applying to an Ivy League school, your best bet is to apply Early Decision or Early Action. These schools typically admit a large percentage of students from these deadlines. You also need to create a game plan for high school. For most Ivy League applications, admissions committees aren’t just looking at junior and senior years; they’re looking at all four. Your competition for these schools is the best of the best, so you need to do everything you can over the course of your high school career to stand out. Your essay needs to be unique, detailing what makes you exceptional and why you would thrive at their school. Finally, your letters of recommendation need to be from teachers, coaches, or mentors who really know you. If attending an Ivy League school is on your radar, talk to your school counselor. They will help you develop a curriculum and extracurricular track that will make you competitive amongst Ivy League admission pools.

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Kathryn Knight Randolph

Associate Content Editor

Kathryn Knight Randolph is the Associate Content Editor at Fastweb. She has 17 years of higher education experience, working first as an Admissions Officer at DePauw University before joining Fastweb. In b...

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