Nearly 18% of Class of 2023 are legacy students or relatives of donors, report reveals

June 26, 2020, 2:27 p.m.

16.2% of students in the Class of 2023 are children of Stanford graduates, according to a report submitted to the California state legislature on Friday. An additional 1.5% were not legacy students but came from a family with a history of philanthropy, the report noted.

The combined percentage is nearly equal to the 18.5% of students in the Class of 2023 who are first-generation college students, meaning that their parents do not have a bachelor’s degree. 

Stanford’s admissions rate for the Class of 2023 was a record-low 4.34%: 2,062 students were offered admission, and 1,701 enrolled in fall 2019. Of the total students admitted, 16.3% were legacy students or came from a family who donated to Stanford, though 18 students did not accept their offer of admission and 16 did not matriculate with the Class of 2023. 

The University defines legacy students as children of Stanford alumni at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The large majority of students who come from families that donate to the university are also children of alumni, the report states. The donor status of an applicant is not always noted in their admissions files, it adds, but some may contain a notation. 

The report was submitted in response to a new state law that requires California higher education institutions to report, each year through 2024, whether they provide preferential treatment in admissions to students on the basis of their relationship to alumni or a history of donations to the school, and if so, how many students this affected in their most recent freshman class. The law was a response to the 2019 college admissions scandal, in which prosecutors accused 33 parents of paying ringleader William Rick Singer to falsify their child’s college application credentials or bribe university coaches. 

The law requires that universities disclose the number of students who “did not meet the institution’s admission standards that apply to all applicants,” but were still admitted. Stanford reported that no students in the Class of 2023 fell into this category.

“If an applicant to Stanford is not highly competitive academically, an existing family connection or historical giving to the university mean nothing in the process,” the report states.

Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ 

Julia Ingram ’21 was The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jingram ‘at’

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