Financial aid improvements help achieve increased diversity

Princeton's improvements in financial aid over recent years and its enhanced recruitment efforts are having their intended effects of increasing both the quality and the diversity of the undergraduate student body, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel reported today.

In her annual report to the faculty on undergraduate admission and financial aid, Malkiel noted that the percentage of entering freshmen on financial aid increased from 40 percent last fall for the class of 2004 to 46 percent this fall for the class of 2005. She also noted that entering students with family incomes below $46,500 grew from 116 in the class of 2004 to 130 in the class of 2005.

The comparisons between this year's entering class and the class of 2001, the last class admitted before Princeton began instituting its recent financial aid improvements, are even more striking. For example, over these past four years the number of students on financial aid has increased by 111, or 26 percent, from 432 to 543; the percentage of the class on financial aid has increased from 38 percent to 46 percent; and the number of students with family incomes below $46,500 has increased from 88 to 130.

Malkiel also reported that the number of students from minority backgrounds in this fall's entering class of 2005 totals 343, or 28.9 percent of the class, as compared to 305 or 26.3 percent in the class of 2004. The 112 African-American students in the entering class, as compared to 86 last year, is the second highest number ever at Princeton. The percentage of African-American students in the class, 9.5 percent, is also the second highest percentage ever, and the highest in 22 years. The class also has enrolled increased numbers of Asian-American and Hispanic students.

At the same time, the academic quality of the entering class is also as high as it has ever been. Students judged by the admission office to have the strongest academic credentials -- credentials that make them the most sought after nationally -- constitute 43.8 percent of this year's entering class, as compared to 38.3 percent of last year's class and 27.6 percent in the class of 2001.

"What is most striking about our recent changes in policy and recruitment is their broad-based impact," Malkiel said. "These changes have increased our attractiveness to students from all backgrounds and all income groups."

Princeton's overall yield on offers of admission (the percentage of those offered admission who decide to enroll) increased from 68.3 percent in the class of 2004 to 70.7 percent in this year's freshman class. The yield in the regular decision round (as distinct from early decision) rose from 51.2 percent to 57.1 percent. The yield for minority students increased from 52.0 percent to 60.1 percent, while the yield for students with the strongest academic credentials increased from 60.5 percent to 65.4 percent.

While Princeton continues to follow its longstanding policy of admitting students on a need-blind basis and then meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students who require assistance, it began to make significant changes in its financial aid policies four years ago to become even more affordable to lower- and middle-income students. As a result of these changes, Princeton has replaced all required loans in its financial aid packages with increased grants, which need not be repaid, and has adjusted its formulas for determining need to reduce the amounts that both students and families are expected to contribute.

"The cumulative effect of these policy changes has been to make Princeton's the leading financial aid program among all colleges and universities in the United States," Malkiel reported. "Except for the military service academies, Princeton's no-required-loan policy is unique among American universities, and Princeton is widely recognized as a university that, despite its high cost, is making it possible for anyone to attend and to graduate debt-free. Based on preliminary reports, we believe that, for the first time ever, Princeton will have a higher percentage of freshmen on grant aid this year than any of our sister institutions."

Princeton's enhanced recruitment efforts in recent years have included greater participation by faculty members in contacting admitted students with special interest in their fields, and a thoroughly redesigned on-campus hosting program for admitted students in April that has involved staff members in the Admission Office and the Frist Campus Center, student organizations, members of the faculty, and hundreds of current undergraduates.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601