Class of 2026 arrives on campus; the first in Princeton’s four-year expansion of the undergraduate student body
Princeton University welcomed 1,500 first-time, first-year members of the Class of 2026 for the opening of the 2022-23 academic year.
The students represent 48 states as well as Washington, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. This year’s class has international citizens representing 76 countries such as Algeria, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Norway, Romania, Thailand and Ukraine.
The Class of 2026 includes 17% who are first-generation college students and 10% who are the children of alumni. Sixty-one percent of the incoming students qualify for financial aid; 21% of the class are lower income students eligible for federal Pell Grants.
The average financial aid grant for the class is approximately $62,515 per year, which is greater than the price of tuition. Lower-income students receive financial aid that covers full tuition, room and board.
Princeton’s financial aid program is recognized as one of the most generous in the country and it relies on grants, not loans, to meet students’ full financial need.
More than a quarter of the first-time enrolled students indicated an interest in Princeton’s bachelor of science in engineering degree on their applications, and 68% indicated an interest in the University’s bachelor of arts degree. The remainder of students indicated they are undecided.
Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Karen Richardson, a 1993 Princeton graduate, greeted the Class of 2026 on move-in day, acknowledging the joyous occasion for students and their families. “We’re thrilled to welcome the Class of 2026 to Princeton,” Richardson said. “While more than half of their high school career has been marked by the pandemic, still their talents and resilience came through clearly. They will surely leave a lasting impression on the University.”
Expanding undergraduate class
The Class of 2026 is the largest ever. As part of the University’s 2016 strategic planning framework set forth by the Board of Trustees, the class is the first in a four-year expansion that will increase Princeton’s undergraduate student body by 500 students. The enrollment increase, paired with Princeton’s generous, no-loan financial aid program, will ensure that more talented students from all backgrounds and sectors of society have access to a Princeton education.
Two new residential colleges, Yeh College and New College West, are opening this fall to support the undergraduate expansion. Hobson College will begin construction in 2023.
Some first-year students participated in the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI) program this summer. FSI was held on campus and virtually and offered students from first-generation, lower-income and underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to experience Princeton’s intellectual, co-curricular and social life prior to the start of the fall semester. FSI is one of many programs offered through the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity to empower all students to successfully navigate the University’s many resources to achieve their professional, personal and scholarly goals, and to become active leaders on campus and in the larger world.
Enrolling more transfer students
Twenty-eight transfer students also join the Princeton undergraduate community. This is the fifth transfer cohort since the program’s reinstatement beginning with the fall 2018 enrollment, and the first year since the expansion of the transfer program. Sixty-one transfer students are enrolled at Princeton for the 2022-23 academic year.
The program’s primary focus is to enroll community college and military students. This year, 25 of the enrolling students transferred from community colleges, and 15 have actively served in the U.S. military, with five branches of service represented. Fourteen of the transfer students enrolling this year are first-generation college students.
Prior to Princeton, transfer students attended several community colleges in New Jersey, including Mercer County Community College, as well as two-year colleges in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Commitment to access and affordability
In 2001, Princeton became the first university in the country to remove loans from its financial aid packages. Most students graduate debt-free because they are not required to borrow as part of Princeton’s aid program.
Students from lower- and middle-income backgrounds qualify for aid, including students with family incomes up to $250,000. For many families, Princeton is more affordable than the cost of a state college or university.
The Office of Admission works with college access groups that support lower-income students, first-generation students and students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, including QuestBridge, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) and the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP). The Office also partners with transfer support networks and veteran and military programs, including Service to School and the Warrior-Scholar Project in preparing U.S. military veterans and service members for higher education. The University is a member of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), a national effort to expand college access and opportunity for talented lower- and moderate-income students.