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Princeton offers admission to 16 transfer students for fall 2021; First transfer students enrolled since program was reinstated will graduate this spring

May 13, 2021 3 p.m.

Princeton University has offered admission to 16 transfer students for entry in fall 2021. Since being reinstated in 2018, the undergraduate transfer admission program has been aimed at encouraging applicants from first-generation, lower-income, military or community college backgrounds.

The 16 admitted transfer students primarily come from community colleges across the country, including Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, New York, Virginia and several from New Jersey. Two of the admitted transfer students are enrolled at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, New Jersey, just a few miles from Princeton.

Ten of the admitted students have served on active duty in the U.S. military or are currently serving. Eight of the students offered admission are women; eight are men. Nine are first-generation college students. Admitted candidates have until May 27 to accept Princeton’s offer of admission. 

The University’s undergraduate admission office has mailed letters to admitted students in the transfer pool, and applicants are able to see their decisions via secure online access beginning at 3 p.m. ET May 13. The University received 1,349 applications for the transfer program this year — close to a 50% increase from last year.

“We saw an exceptionally strong and diverse group of transfer applicants this year. Once again, we’re excited to bring to Princeton some of the most accomplished and talented students both from across the country and the world, and from nearby communities in New Jersey,” said Alex Bustin, director of transfer and military/veteran admission in the Office of Admission and a Princeton Class of 2008 graduate.

Bustin added: “It has been a great privilege to get to know our transfer students and to see the impact they make on our campus community. We are also proud and fortunate to have the opportunity to work with their advocates at their community colleges and transfer networks, as well as at national organizations supporting U.S. military candidates, such as the Leadership Scholar Program, Service to School and the Warrior-Scholar Project. They all provide critical support not only to transfer students, but also to University partners throughout the process.”

This month also marks the first graduation for transfer students since the program’s reinstatement. Five seniors will graduate as part of the Class of 2021 after having transferred to Princeton in fall 2018. The transition to the transfer program beginning in 2016 also facilitated increased enrollment of U.S. military veterans among undergraduates; as a result, eight veterans will graduate with the Class of 2021.

“Three years ago, one of my biggest fears was transferring to an institution where I would fall through the cracks, where my needs as a transfer student would not be a priority. However, since the moment I received my acceptance letter, Princeton has gone above and beyond to make sure that I feel welcomed, supported, and heard,” said Daniela Alvarez, Class of 2021, a Spanish and Portuguese concentrator and vice president of the Princeton Transfer Association. “Transfer [students] not only have the tools and the support system to transition into this new academic environment but to also thrive in it. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be part of the first transfer cohort and see our transfer community grow. To the newly admitted transfers, congratulations and welcome to our transfer family!”

Keith Shaw, director of Princeton’s Transfer, Veteran and Non-Traditional Student Programs, reflects on this moment and the journey of the Class of 2021 transfer cohort.

"Our young program has reached an important milestone: for the first time since the 1990s, transfer students are graduating from Princeton,” said Shaw. "In three short years here, these soon-to-be transfer alumni found an intellectual home, became leaders and activists on campus, sought out study abroad and other professional opportunities, produced compelling original research in their fields, won prestigious awards, and are now on the cusp of the next exciting steps in their career journeys. We couldn't be prouder of them and are especially grateful for the guidance and mentorship they generously provided to the students admitted behind them. That pay-it-forward ethos cultivated by our transfer trailblazers has been the most rewarding element of being their primary adviser. Now is a great time to enter the transfer community at Princeton, and I'm excited to be able to welcome our fourth cohort this fall."

The University’s generous financial aid program provides the assistance necessary to make sure that a Princeton education is genuinely affordable for every admitted student, including transfer and international students. More than 60% of Princeton undergraduates receive financial aid. The average grant is greater than the cost of tuition, while lower-income students receive aid that covers full tuition, room and board. Students who applied for aid with family incomes up to $160,000 typically pay no tuition. 

Princeton is further distinguished from many peer institutions because its financial aid can replace veterans benefits toward the total cost of attendance, meaning that undergraduate veterans can attend Princeton without using their benefits. 

Transfer students, like first-year undergraduates, must begin their enrollment in the fall semester. Most students will begin as sophomores (in their second year of study). However, in some cases, students may begin as juniors, or be required to enter as first-year students. In all cases, Princeton faculty and college deans determine this standing after an evaluation of transfer credit.

In January 2016, Princeton’s Board of Trustees adopted a strategic planning framework identifying key goals and priorities for Princeton and authorized reinstating a transfer program. This ended a pause on the transfer process that had gone into effect in 1990.