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Princeton trustees set 2023-24 budget, increasing undergraduate financial aid more than 25%

The trustees of Princeton University have adopted an operating budget for the University totaling $2.92 billion for 2023-24, which includes a 26.4% increase, to $268 million, in the undergraduate financial aid budget. The increase supports several significant enhancements to how the University packages aid awards and provides support to more students as enrollment expands.

These enhancements make a Princeton education free to most families with income up to $100,000 and continue to ensure it is affordable for every admitted student.

Princeton provides financial aid in the form of grants, which do not have to be repaid. It does not require any borrowing, so students can graduate debt free. The University’s endowment distributions and investment income cover more than 70% of the undergraduate financial aid budget and some 60% of the overall operating budget.

Students’ aid packages are recalculated each year to offset increases to tuition, room, board and other expenses, and to account for changes in the family’s financial circumstances.  

In addition to free tuition, room and board for most families earning up to $100,000 a year, the financial aid expansion that begins with the 2023-24 academic year provides additional aid to families with income above $100,000, including those with multiple children in college.

A majority of the additional scholarship funding will benefit families earning less than $150,000, and the University’s highest-need students will receive new and expanded forms of financial support. Students’ personal expense allowance for financial aid packages has been increased by $550, to $4,050 a year. The previously expected $3,500 student contribution from summer savings and campus work has been eliminated.

Princeton is also committed to supporting its graduate students. The University increased average graduate fellowship and stipend rates by 25% for fiscal year 2022-23, its largest one-year increase, and these rates will increase by an additional 5% with this year’s budget. Total graduate student support will have increased by more than 23% between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2024, to an expected $321 million.

“The substantial increase in our financial aid budget is a testament to our unwavering commitment to make a Princeton education affordable for all admitted students,” said Provost Jennifer Rexford, the University’s chief budget officer. “Removing the student contribution and increasing the personal expense allowance gives our students on financial aid much greater freedom to pursue their educational and extra-curricular passions, and the significant increases in graduate-student stipends over the past two years help make Princeton one of the best places in the world to pursue an advanced degree.”

Princeton tailors each financial aid package to a family’s particular circumstances. In determining need, it excludes equity in the primary residence and retirement savings, and it considers other obligations, such as educational expenses for other children as well as debt and medical bills for dependents. 

The University’s commitment to access and affordability has allowed it to diversify the makeup of the student body in significant and impactful ways. More than 60% of all undergraduates receive aid. The proportion of students eligible for federal Pell Grants, restricted to lower-income students, has increased to 21% of students in the Class of 2026, up from 7% of the Class of 2008.

The fee package (which includes tuition, room and board) will increase by 4%, to $79,090, for 2023-24. The University projects that the average scholarship for students receiving aid will increase to approximately $74,680 in the coming year, 20% more than the average award for 2022-23.

As a result of the enhancements to financial aid, the estimated “net cost after aid” to attend Princeton for the average student on aid will decrease from approximately $20,000 in 2022-23 to $12,000 in 2023-24 including allowances for books, personal, travel and other costs. The University estimates that more than 25% of the undergraduate student body will be able to attend at no cost. 

The trustees approved the budget during a meeting in late March.