Class of 2010 is most diverse in Princeton's history

Princeton's efforts to build a multicultural undergraduate student body have yielded their strongest results with this year's freshman class.

"With a record-high representation of students from minority backgrounds as well as international students, the class of 2010 is the most diverse in Princeton's history," Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel reported at the Sept. 18 faculty meeting.

A total of 456 freshmen are from minority backgrounds, representing 37 percent of the 1,231-member class. This compares to 433 minority students, or 35 percent, in the class of 2009. The class of 2010 also includes 128 international students, constituting 10 percent of the class, which is up from 109 students, or 9 percent of the class, a year earlier.

Princeton also continued to enhance the economic diversity of its undergraduate population, as 682 freshmen, or 55 percent of the class, are receiving financial aid under the University's groundbreaking "no loan" program. The percentage matches the record set by the class of 2009 and, based on preliminary reports from other Ivy League universities, remains the highest among Princeton's peer institutions, according to Malkiel.

Princeton has made significant advances in attracting a broader pool of applicants in recent years, due to enhanced recruitment efforts and major improvements in the University's financial aid practices. Reflecting the success of these initiatives, Princeton received a record 17,564 applications for admission to the class of 2010, which was up 6 percent from the 16,510 applicants for the class of 2009 and came after a nearly 21 percent rise in applicants the previous year.

To reach a wider pool of prospective students, Princeton has increased its recruitment efforts across the country and internationally. For example, the Admission Office has recently partnered with the Alumni Schools Committees of Washington, D.C., and Boston in a pilot project targeting public high schools with predominantly minority and low- to moderate-income students, aiming to raise awareness of the opportunities available at Princeton.

To make Princeton more affordable to a wider range of students, in 2001 the University replaced loans with grants for all students who qualify for aid. This unprecedented initiative built upon a series of enhancements to Princeton's aid program that began in 1998, including the adjustment of formulas for determining need to reduce the amounts that both students and families are expected to contribute.

"The cumulative effect of these changes has been to make Princeton's the leading financial aid program among all colleges and universities in the United States," Malkiel said. The percentage of students on financial aid in the class of 2010 is a substantial increase from the 432 students, or 38 percent of the class, on financial aid in the class of 2001, the last class admitted before Princeton began revamping its aid program. The average scholarship awarded to members of the class of 2010 is $29,786, compared to $15,064 for aid recipients in the class of 2001.

The class of 2010 is Princeton's largest freshman class, as the University is moving forward with plans to increase the size of its undergraduate student body to 5,200 by the fall of 2012. Including the class of 2010, Princeton currently enrolls 4,815 undergraduates and will gradually increase the size of incoming classes over the next few years.

For additional figures on the class of 2010, see “By the Numbers” in the Sept. 10 issue of the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.