Yale recognized for fast growth of lower-income student population

The American Talent Initiative (ATI), a national alliance of leading colleges and universities, has recognized Yale as one of its most successful members for rapidly increasing the enrollment of undergraduate students eligible for Pell Grants, a federal need-based program for low-income students.

Created in December 2016, ATI aims to attract, enroll, and graduate an additional 50,000 lower-income students at the colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70% of their students in six years.

ATI recently recognized Yale for achieving the fourth-highest Pell growth rate among all 130 ATI members. Between the 2015–16 and 2019–20 academic years, the percentage of Yale students eligible for Pell Grants increased from 13% to 18%, a growth rate of 55%. During that same period, the 130 ATI colleges and universities collectively saw a 3.5% growth rate in Pell enrollments.

The report cited Yale as an “example of success” and an institution that has “led the way toward enrolling and graduating lower-income students, laying the groundwork for collective progress.” Collectively, the 80 top-performing ATI members, including Yale, enrolled about 20,000 additional Pell students between 2015–16 and 2019–20.

As part of the ATI’s new “Accelerating Opportunity” campaign, Yale President Peter Salovey publicly committed to making measurable progress towards realizing a 20% share of lower-income students enrolled in Yale College by 2025. This would represent an increase of more than 70% in the number of Pell-eligible students enrolled in Yale College during the 2015–16 academic year.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan explained that his office plans to continue its innovative outreach campaigns that emphasize affordability, expand dedicated programs led by current Yale College students for first-generation and lower-income students, and sustain recently expanded strategic partnerships with Questbridge and College Board, which help admissions officers identify and respond to high-achieving students from lower-income backgrounds.

Since becoming dean in 2013, increasing socioeconomic diversity in Yale College has been one of my top priorities,” said Quinlan. “I am proud of the progress we have made and of the generous enhancements Yale has made to financial aid awards for the lowest-income students.”

Yale’s undergraduate financial aid policies meet 100% of every family’s financial need without requiring loans. Families with incomes below $75,000 and typical assets will qualify for financial aid awards with a “$0 parent share.” These awards cover the full cost of tuition, on-campus housing, the meal plan, and health insurance with scholarship grants.

ATI is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R. The initiative is also funded by the Gray Foundation and the Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson Family Foundation.

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