University provides endowment, aid information to Senate Finance Committee

Feb. 26, 2008 12:38 p.m.

The University has provided to the U.S. Senate in-depth information on Princeton's endowment spending policies, commitment to financial aid, and efforts to ensure that Princeton is accessible to students from the full range of income backgrounds.

Responding to a request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, President Shirley M. Tilghman sent a letter on Friday, Feb. 22, to Sens. Max Baucus and Charles Grassley outlining 10 years of financial aid improvements greatly supported by the successful stewardship of Princeton's endowment. The letter is available online (.pdf). 

Baucus, the finance committee chairman, and Grassley, a ranking member of the committee, wrote to Princeton and 135 other colleges Jan. 25 asking for details and policies relating to endowment growth and pay-outs, college costs and student aid. The colleges were asked to respond within 30 days.

Tilghman's letter to the committee shows that, with $81 million in financial aid spending this year, Princeton spent more on undergraduate grants than the $75 million received in tuition. Next year's spending on financial aid is expected to increase to almost $87 million. Aid increases have outpaced tuition increases by more than 50 percent over the past decade, such that the average grant now covers 96 percent of tuition, compared to 65 percent in 1998. Funds from the endowment cover more than 85 percent of the University's scholarship budget.

More than half of Princeton's undergraduates receive financial aid. The average cost of tuition for students on financial aid -- the remaining tuition cost after subtracting the aid grant -- has declined from $7,932 during the 1997-98 academic year to $1,458 this year. Adjusted for inflation, the cost for students on aid to attend Princeton has decreased even more, and no student on aid is required to take out a loan. The average cost for all undergraduates has declined by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past 10 years.

Tilghman's letter also points out that in addition to supporting undergraduate education and financial aid, Princeton's endowment provides critical support for graduate education and for the "cutting-edge research that fuels America's competitiveness, at a time when federal and other sources of support are failing to keep pace with rising costs."