Class of 2015 reflects University's commitment to access

Princeton has enrolled the most diverse freshman class in the University's history, with a record number of students from low-income backgrounds and minority backgrounds included in the 1,300 members of the Class of 2015.

"At Princeton, access and affordability are core values, and we are extraordinarily fortunate to be able to hold firm to our commitment to the strongest possible undergraduate financial aid program in a period of significant fiscal stringency," Dean of the College Valerie Smith said in her report on Class of 2015 admissions at the Sept. 19 faculty meeting.

Smith's report was based on preliminary figures compiled by the Office of Admission and the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid. Official opening enrollment figures will be published in October on the Office of the Registrar website

A record 228 students from low-income backgrounds make up 17.5 percent of the freshman class, and 59 percent of the class, or 774 students, is receiving financial aid. By comparison, the Class of 2014 included 208 students from low-income backgrounds, and 58 percent of the class received financial aid. The budgeted average grant for freshmen is $36,100, with a total projected scholarship budget of $28 million for the Class of 2015.

The class is the 14th to matriculate since the University began enhancing its undergraduate financial aid program -- including a pioneering "no-loan" policy -- to make a Princeton education more affordable to a broader range of students. In the Class of 2001, the last class to enter before the aid improvements, 38 percent of the students were on financial aid with an average grant of $15,064, and students from low-income backgrounds made up 8 percent of the class.

A record 496 freshmen who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States this year are from diverse backgrounds, representing 38.2 percent of the class. This compares to 490 American students of color, or 37.3 percent, of the 1,313 members of the Class of 2014.

The Class of 2015 is the third class of about 1,300 students, the target size based on the planned gradual expansion of the size of the undergraduate student body to 5,200 students by the 2012-13 academic year. The record 27,189 applicants for the class represented a 3.6 percent increase from the record 26,247 applicants for the Class of 2014. Princeton offered admission to 2,300 applicants, a record-low of 8.5 percent of those who applied, as compared with the 8.8 percent admission rate for the Class of 2014.

The Class of 2015 is the fourth consecutive class admitted without an early decision process. The University has reinstated a single-choice early action program, which takes effect this year for students applying for the Class of 2016. The single-choice early action program requires applicants to apply early only to Princeton, and not to other early programs, but allows students to make their decision on May 1, when students who are admitted through the regular admission process will let Princeton know their plans.

The freshman class includes 141 international students, the same number as the previous year, representing 46 countries. International students make up 10.8 percent of the freshman class.

The class is made up of 51.2 percent men and 48.8 percent women.

The figures for the incoming freshman class do not include the 20 students admitted to the Class of 2015 who are participating in the third year of Princeton's Bridge Year Program, in which they spend a tuition-free year abroad on service projects. Those students will enroll with the Class of 2016. The figures for the Class of 2015 do include the 20 students admitted with the Class of 2014 who participated in the Bridge Year Program in 2010-11.

According to preliminary figures from the Office of the Registrar, Princeton currently enrolls 5,182 undergraduates.