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How an Ivy got less preppy: Princeton draws surge of students from modest means

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2570 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
"The gatekeepers here wanted to shed, once and for all, the reputation of a tradition-steeped university that caters mainly to the preppy and the privileged. So they recruited from far more high schools, tapped the endowment for more financial aid and took more steps to welcome newcomers from poor and working-class homes.

They even began checking family finances before deciding whom to admit. The point was not to exclude those in need but, possibly, to boost their chances.

The result: In little more than a dozen years, Princeton University tripled the share of freshmen who qualify for federal Pell Grants to 22 percent this fall. The grants, targeting students from low-to-moderate-income families with significant financial need, are a key indicator of economic diversity. The Ivy League school’s transformation reflects mounting pressure on top colleges, public and private, to provide more opportunity to communities where poverty is common and college degrees scarce." ...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-an-ivy-got-less-preppy-princeton-draws-surge-of-students-from-modest-means/2017/10/23/b66955b6-a770-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html?utm_term=.5509a8ee041b
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Replies to: How an Ivy got less preppy: Princeton draws surge of students from modest means

  • Muad_dibMuad_dib 895 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    At under 7% acceptance rate, admission is still a crapshoot.
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  • pantha33mpantha33m 249 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I see what you did there, @twoinanddone.
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  • DolemiteDolemite 2117 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Tanbiko I've wondered if they did that for Athletic recruits to keep Ivy recruiting competitive or are they forced not too by NCAA interpretation.
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  • TanbikoTanbiko 354 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    @Dolemite Ivy League is an athletic league with their own regulations. They officially allow recruits to share finaid offers with other schools for the sake of matching. It is on their website. Probably, for the reason you mentioned, to equalize teams. However, from my observations, the "preferential packaging" is not limited to athletic recruits.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78284 replies691 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If they are looking directly at the financials of individual applicants to make admissions decisions, then they would technically be need-aware, though in this case in the opposite direction that need-aware generally connotes.

    Of course, colleges also can and do shape their classes to meet an expected financial aid profile by changing the weighting of various applicant qualities that correlate to higher or lower family income and wealth, without necessarily having to look directly at the financials of individual applicants.
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  • citymama9citymama9 2499 replies142 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @3puppies the one URM that I know at Princeton has test scores and grades way below what is expected of the non- hooked. Granted, he was also a great football player and went to a top public HS
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78284 replies691 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    citymama9 wrote:
    I think places like Princeton are filled with the rich and the poor, but not as many middle and upper middle class folks

    https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=princeton&s=all&id=186131#finaid indicates the following for students at Princeton:

    42% no grant or scholarship financial aid -- presumably top 2-3% or so family income/wealth
    43% grant or scholarship aid, no Pell grant -- presumably upper half of family income/wealth, except for the top 2-3%
    15% grant or scholarship aid including Pell grant -- presumably lower half of family income/wealth

    Even if the Pell percentage increases to 22% overall as the frosh classes with higher Pell percentage replace graduating classes with lower Pell percentage, that still leaves the top end of the income/wealth range extremely over-represented, and the rest of the upper half better represented than the lower half.
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  • DolemiteDolemite 2117 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @citymama9 I don't think that is correct. Depending on your definition of rich, I'd say most are middle class and upper middle class. Lots of highly educated parents.
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  • Sam-I-AmSam-I-Am 587 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    Isn't it self-serving for P to select out Pell Grant eligible students from out of their FA pool of otherwise academically qualified students? Doesn't the federal government fund the Pell Grants, not the institution? Sounds like P may be taking the most very needy just so that P does NOT have to dip as deeply into its own endowment to fund these students as it might for other students that don't qualify for a Pell.
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  • DolemiteDolemite 2117 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @citymama9 While that is true, Princeton pretty much has the best need-based aid in the country, so even households making 200K+ are getting institutional aid at Princeton.
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  • pantha33mpantha33m 249 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Considering that most Pell Grant recipients have family income less than $50,000 (and most have way less), I'm pretty sure I'd rather not qualify.
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  • 3puppies3puppies 1745 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    And since the percentage of full-pay remains fairly constant, it appears that they are taking more Pell-eligible students over middle-class families.

    They don't want to mess with the legacies, who tend to be full-pay.

    I think, therefore, that Princeton is being intellectually dishonest on their website when they are still advertising that they are need-blind. https://admission.princeton.edu/cost-aid

    And full disclosure - we are a not a Pell eligible family. Princeton accepted my "average excellent" D and offered her an incredible FA package, but she declined it in favor of Stanford, which also gave us a tremendous offer. We toured the Princeton campus multiple times, D even spent an overnight there as an accepted student. The 2 hosts for her made her feel comfortable and they clearly loved what the school offered.

    No matter what Princeton does as they tweak their admissions policies, there will be many awesome applicants who are excluded due to the sheer numbers. I do think they owe it to their own culture to indicate to what extent they are favoring Pell-applicants, or at least to disclose that they are not need blind in the sense that they include Pell-grant status as a potentially favorable indicator.

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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1900 replies70 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "I think, therefore, that Princeton is being intellectually dishonest on their website when they are still advertising that they are need-blind."

    Whether Princeton is being intellectually dishonest or not depends on the purpose of "need-blind." Simply stated, it's purpose is to remove any financial barriers that prevent promising students from applying. If your understanding by need-blind that it can't and must not review anyone's financial data before making the admission decision, then that's a procedural quibble, not the essence of its purpose. What Princeton is attempting to do is actually expanding the scope of need-blind by increasing the Pell applicants in a way that's no different than increasing URM and other "hook" applicants. That's not being intellectually dishonest. It''s more like an evolutionary step in the right direction. This evolutionary step is noted below: "Pell eligibility became another factor among many in the 'holistic' review of an application..." When Eisgruber stated, "What we really want to say is, we're never going to hold your financial need against you," he was simply attempting to reaffirm the original purpose of need-blind. The result, as stated below, "is a demographic revolution, with unprecedented numbers of students from modest circumstances becoming Princetonians," and if other peer institutions follow the example, greater doors open for students from all economic spectrum. And THAT'S a good thing and something to applaud.

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    "By 2013, the Pell-eligible share had doubled to nearly 15 percent. For the next year’s class, Rapelye took another step: She asked Princeton’s financial aid office to advise which promising applicants were likely to qualify for Pell. She noted that data in their files before making final decisions.

    “It doesn’t mean that we automatically admit these students,” Rapelye said. But Pell eligibility became another factor among many in the “holistic” review of an application at one of the world’s most selective schools. Princeton’s admission rate is 6 percent.

    That was a significant shift for a university that, like its Ivy peers, depicts its admissions process as “need-blind.” Eisgruber sought to clarify: “What we really want to say is, we’re never going to hold your financial need against you.”

    The result is a demographic revolution, with unprecedented numbers of students from modest circumstances becoming Princetonians."
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  • prof2dadprof2dad 683 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think it is a cool thing that P pays particular attention to those who need aids the most. But I think P should change the word "need-blind" to something like "need-wanted" to better reflect the new practice.
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