Why Princeton is opening its doors to community college transfer students

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Why Princeton is opening its doors to community college transfer students

In fall 2018, Princeton University will accept transfer students from community colleges for the first time, Melissa Korn writes for Forbes.

Princeton will accept 10 to 12 transfer students from community colleges, and expand its undergraduate student body to make more room for students from diverse backgrounds, she adds.

Princeton is one of the dozens of elite colleges and universities who have formed the American Talent Initiative, a group that seeks to boost success outcomes for low-income students.

The initiative aims to collectively enroll 50,000 more low-income, high-achieving students into roughly 300 institutions with high graduation rates by 2025.

Launched in late 2016 with 30 member schools, the initiative is now a band of 96 colleges and universities, she writes. The group spans a variety of public and private institutions, including the entire Ivy League, the University of Virginia, several University of California campuses, and Rice University.

The initiative has support from Michael Bloomberg, who says elite colleges should do more to expand access for low-income students. “I’m a believer that society needs more of the best and the brightest to get a good education,” he told the Washington Post last year. The initiative also partners with nonprofits the Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R.

Over the past decade, Princeton has taken several steps to recruit and retain more low-income students. As a result, the university has tripled its number of first-year students eligible for a Pell Grant, up to 22%.

Related: Use social media to connect underrepresented students to college

Many colleges are focusing on meeting talented, low-income students where they are.  

In October, admissions officers from several liberal arts colleges, including Claremont McKenna College and Lehigh University, visited high schools to speak with low-income students, Korn writes. Other universities are building recruitment pipelines by sending graduates to work as college advisors in rural areas.

As more low-income students enroll, institutions are revamping financial aid packages to cover costs beyond tuition, like meal plans, she writes. College leaders are also expanding financial support for middle-income students who struggle with tuition costs, she adds.

Still, recruiting low-income students can be an uphill battle for college leaders. Eric Spina, president at the University of Dayton, said he had to explain trustees that Pell-eligible students are “talented kids who go toe-to-toe” with other applicants. There can also be “passive resistance” among administrators who are more used expanding research than improving social mobility, says Michael Drake, president at Ohio State University (Korn, Forbes, 3/6).

Fly in four: How one university supports on-time graduation for low-income students

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