MIT is a meritocracy and admits students without regard to their family’s ability to pay, awarding financial aid solely on the basis of need. This makes it possible for MIT to accept the best and brightest young people in the world. But as the cost of an MIT education continues to rise, the role of financial aid is more critical. That’s why scholarship support is a key priority of MIT’s Campaign for Students.

This year, 64 percent of all undergraduates qualify for need-based aid. The average financial aid award (including scholarships, loans, and jobs) is $39,051. But the total price tag for an MIT undergraduate is $53,210.

The Institute is the largest provider of financial aid to undergraduates. Much of that aid is in the form of scholarships, made possible through endowed scholarship funds and current gifts from alumni and friends. This year, the Institute planned to spend $81.5 million in scholarships, but because of the troubled economy more parents faced unemployment and other financial difficulties, resulting in $2 million more in expenditures than planned.

Our financial aid costs are remarkably high, but MIT is committed to providing need-blind admissions and need-based aid because students in all financial circumstances have the brains, creativity, and drive to succeed at MIT and to apply their education to change the world.

The Campaign for Students, which kicked off in the fall of 2008, aims to raise at least $500 million to support scholarships and fellowships as well as funds for student life and learning. Thanks to the generosity of 45,528 alumni and friends, the Campaign reached 93 percent of its $500 million goal as of May 15, 2010. MIT’s sesquicentennial in 2011 — when the Institute will celebrate 150 years of education and research — will mark the end of the Campaign for Students.