Freshman class reflects success of diversity efforts

The Princeton class of 2011, selected from a record-high number of applicants, reflects continued success in the University's efforts to attract a diverse student body.

"With a record-high representation of students from minority backgrounds as well as international students, the class of 2011 is the most diverse in Princeton's history," Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel reported at the Sept. 17 faculty meeting. This marks the second consecutive year that Princeton's incoming class has included record numbers of minority and international students.

Applications have steadily increased in recent years as Princeton has attracted a broader pool of prospective students through the expansion of recruitment efforts and the institution of major improvements in its financial aid policies, most notably the groundbreaking "no loan" program.

The University received a record total of 18,942 applications for the class of 2011, up from 17,564 a year earlier. Princeton offered admission to 1,838 applicants to the class of 2011, representing a record-low rate of 9.7 percent. A year earlier, admission was offered to 1,790 students, or 10.2 percent of those who applied to the class of 2010.

A total of 463 freshmen are from minority backgrounds, representing 37.2 percent of the 1,246-member class. This compares to 456 minority students, or 37 percent of the 1,231-member class of 2010. The class of 2011 also includes 139 international students, constituting 11.2 percent of the class, which is up from 128 students, or 10.4 percent of the class, a year earlier.

"Building a strong multicultural community is a high priority for the University, and we will continue to concentrate on the recruitment, selection and yields of minority students in the applicant pool for the class of 2012," Malkiel said.

The class of 2011 is the 10th to matriculate since the University began revamping its financial aid practices to make a Princeton education more affordable to a broader range of students. This year, 671 freshmen, or 54 percent of the class, are receiving financial aid, compared to 682 freshmen, or 55 percent of the class, last year. Based on preliminary reports from other Ivy League universities, Princeton's percentage of freshmen receiving financial aid remains the highest among the University's peer institutions, according to Malkiel.

The figures for this year's incoming class represent a dramatic increase compared to the class of 2001, the last class to enroll before Princeton began to enhance its aid policies. In the class of 2001, 432 students, or 38 percent of the class, received financial aid. Compared to the class of 2001, the current freshman class includes 239 more students receiving aid, an increase of 55 percent, and 100 more low-income students, a gain of 112 percent. The average scholarship awarded to members of the class of 2011 is $31,187, compared to $15,064 for aid recipients in the class of 2001.

"As the data … make plain, we have been tremendously successful in attaining our goal of making Princeton affordable for any student regardless of family financial circumstances," Malkiel said.

The class of 2011 is Princeton's largest freshman class, as the University is gradually increasing the size of the student body by 500 students, or 11 percent, by 2012. Including the incoming class, Princeton currently enrolls 4,850 students.

For additional figures on the class of 2011, see "By the numbers" in the Sept. 16 issue of the Princeton Weekly Bulletin