Top colleges and universities unite to enroll and retain high-achieving, lower-income students

Dec. 13, 2016 9:30 a.m.

Princeton University has joined a founding group of 30 of the nation's most respected colleges and universities in a new initiative that aims to expand substantially the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America's top-performing undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

The American Talent Initiative (ATI), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and coordinated by the Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R, brings together a diverse mix of public and private institutions united in the goal of enrolling and graduating an additional 50,000 high-achieving, lower-income students at the nation's top 270 colleges and universities (defined as those with graduation rates of 70 percent or higher) by 2025. Member institutions are boosting their own efforts to recruit and support lower-income students, learn from each other, and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity.

"Princeton University is proud to be partnering with colleges and universities in the American Talent Initiative to expand college access for students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds," said President Christopher L. Eisgruber. "That goal is critical to the United States and the world: the ability to get a college degree is often the single most important factor in determining whether young people can achieve upward mobility, realize their dreams and contribute to society. At Princeton, we have made it a priority to increase the socioeconomic diversity of our students, and in just over a decade we have tripled the number of entering students who are eligible for federal Pell grants. We look forward to working with our partners to share best practices and respond to the compelling need that confronts our country."

Colleges and universities participating in the American Talent Initiative will further the national goal of developing more talent from every community by:

  • Strengthening outreach to recruit students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds;
  • Ensuring that admitted lower-income students enroll and are retained through practices demonstrated to be effective;
  • Prioritizing need-based financial aid; and
  • Minimizing or eliminating gaps in progression and graduation rates between and among students from low-, moderate- and high-income families.

Eisgruber serves on the ATI Steering Committee with University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce; Ohio State University President Michael Drake; Martin Kurzweil, director of the Educational Transformation Program at Ithaka S+R; Franklin & Marshall College President Dan Porterfield; Davidson College President Carol Quillen; and Joshua Wyner, vice president and executive director of the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program. 

Participating institutions include: Amherst College, Bates College, Davidson College, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Lehigh University, Ohio State University, Pomona College, Princeton University, Rice University, Spelman College, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Maryland-College Park, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Richmond, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University, Vassar College, Washington University in St. Louis, Williams College and Yale University.