Planet Princeton

Princeton University Launches Two New Initiatives to Increase Socioeconomic Diversity of Student Body

Nassau Hall PrincetonPrinceton University has announced that it has launched two new initiatives to further increase the socioeconomic diversity of its student body.

The two initiatives fulfill commitments that Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber made last January when he participated in a White House summit to explore ways to increase college opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students nationwide.

“Increasing the number of students at Princeton from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and providing them with the resources they need to be successful, are high priorities for us,” Eisgruber said. “I am grateful for the support of alumni who have provided funding for these initiatives and to the members of the faculty and staff who are helping to design and carry out these programs.”

One  new initiative is a significant expansion of its partnership with Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, a national program dedicated to developing the academic and leadership potential of talented high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Since 2005, the organization has hosted the Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute on the Princeton campus. The seven-week summer program provides leadership development, writing instruction, standardized test preparation, and college guidance to students. The curriculum prepares students to be campus and community leaders and develops their critical-thinking skills. The residential aspect of the program reinforces the academic experience by building a sense of community among the students.

The University’s increased support will allow the program to expand its participation from 60 to 100 students starting this summer.

The other new initiative is the development of a new module for the University’s Freshman Scholars Institute for students interested in science, technology, engineering or math. The new module is being made possible by a donation from Class of 1988 graduate Bob Peck. For Peck, the son of a butcher from Texas, coming to Princeton meant working hard to learn how to thrive at a competitive university. From his own experience as a history major who studied pre-med and became a Rhodes Scholar, he is interested in college access and supporting students as they make the transition to college.

The 20-year-old program helps admitted Princeton students from low-income families and less advantaged backgrounds to make the transition to the rigor of a Princeton education through a seven-week summer program held on campus. In recent years, students traditionally have taken a humanities survey course and a quantitative reasoning course. The Bob Peck ’88 Family Fund for the Freshman Scholars Institute will create two new tracks in life sciences and engineering, with the goal of reducing attrition among students who have expressed an interest in those fields.

This initiative also will establish introductory workshops during the academic year for students taking freshman chemistry, as well as a summer research program to enable students to work in the lab of a faculty member and take part in original scientific research. The new opportunities will be phased in next summer.

Princeton’s freshman Class of 2018 includes 290 students from low-income backgrounds, which is 22 percent of the class. About 12 percent of the students in the Class of 2018 are first-generation college students and 18 percent of freshmen are federal Pell Grant recipients, compared with 14.5 percent of freshmen last year.

Princeton waives application fees for low-income students. Last year the school hired an admission officer to provide outreach and support to lower-income students during the admission process.

In 2001, Princeton was the first university to replace loans in its financial aid package with grants that do not have to be repaid, and today 60 percent of undergraduates are on financial aid.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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