February 21, 2001: President's Page

Important Steps for Princeton

Thanks to the success of the Anniversary campaign, the strength of Annual Giving and the growth of our endowment, Princeton is able to take several important steps that will enhance our financial aid programs for undergraduates and graduate students, and strengthen our teaching and research programs in significant ways.

At their January meeting, the Trustees approved a major increase in endowment income spending and targeted this boost in operating budget funds to our highest priorities. I would like to describe briefly the initiatives we are taking, beginning with undergraduate financial aid and instruction. Starting with the next academic year, Princeton will:

· Remove required loans from all future undergraduate financial aid awards and replace them with grants, while also increasing the size of financial aid awards for lower- and middle-income families.

· Launch a new freshman year writing program for all undergraduates, in which all freshmen will take specially designed small writing seminars. These seminars will carry full academic credit and will result in increasing by one the required number of courses for graduation.

· Strengthen academic advising in the residential colleges, support the expanded use of technology in teaching through the new Educational Technologies Center, and improve teaching laboratories in the natural sciences and engineering.

We believe that part of Princeton's obligation to society is to attract and enroll exceptional students from all income levels. This is possible only if our financial aid programs truly meet students' needs. These new steps build on other initiatives we have taken in recent years to assess more fairly the financial capacities of students and their families, and while loans will still be available

to students and parents who would like to make use of them, the elimination of the required loan from all financial aid packages means that students will have greater flexibility in making life and career choices when they graduate because they will not be faced with repaying those debts. The Trustees also approved a 3.0 percent increase in student fees for next year, the lowest since the 1960s.

In this centennial year of the Graduate School, we were especially pleased to be able to strengthen Princeton's leadership position in graduate education. Specifically, we will:

· Provide fellowships for all first-year Ph.D. students in the sciences and engineering. This means that these students now will be able to take advanced courses for a year before committing to a particular research project and area of concentration. Until now support for first-year students in the sciences and engineering came from externally-sponsored faculty research grants. We believe that this change will have a very positive influence on the quality of graduate education in these areas.

· Provide summer support for all Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences. Students in the humanities and social sciences will be able to make more rapid progress toward their degrees without the interruptions many now experience because of the need to support themselves financially during the summer. (We have long provided academic-year fellowships and assistantships to students in the humanities and social sciences.)

· Enhance stipends for graduate students, including assistants in instruction, and improve health coverage for graduate students.

Additional funding also has been made available to a broad range of restricted accounts that support library acquisitions, the teaching and research mission of the academic departments, and a variety of other educational programs. The quality of campus life will also be improved as a result of the spending rate increase. Additional funds have been made available to accelerate our undergraduate dormitory renovation program, and enhance our major maintenance budget. We are also committed to the construction of additional graduate student housing.

In determining how this increased spending would be allocated, we were guided both by our highest priority needs and the need to assure sufficient flexibility in our budget so that we can make appropriate adjustments if necessary over time. As we analyze our budget projections, looking well into the future, we believe that our expanded commitments to undergraduate and graduate student aid and to our educational programs are fully sustainable, assuming we continue to meet our basic long-term targets for the management of the endowment and as long as we continue to merit the support of our alumni and other donors through Annual Giving and capital gifts.

We believe that this increase in spending helps us achieve a critical balance between meeting important needs of this generation of students and faculty and sustaining Princeton's capacity to meet the needs of generations yet to come. These steps enable us to invest both in the physical plant that is such an important University asset and, even more significantly, in the human and intellectual capital that lies at the heart of the University. We are exceedingly grateful to all alumni and other donors whose generosity over many years has made this possible.

More information about the spending rate increase and the steps it enables us to take is available on line: www.princeton.edu/pr/news/01/q1/0127-overview.htm.