Maricela Coronado, Class of 2018, says she got to Princeton "by accident."
One day in high school, a paper on the ground with the phrase "application fee waiver" caught her eye. So she picked it up and eventually applied to universities across the country through the nonprofit college match program QuestBridge. She later was accepted to Princeton, among other schools.
"I had no idea about the University. I didn't even know what the Ivy League was," said Coronado, a first-generation college student from the small city of Honey Grove, Texas. "Many students from my high school don't go on to college. The only reason I even applied here was because of the words 'fee waiver.'"
Coronado's experience coming to Princeton with limited knowledge of the University — and college life in general — is increasingly common as the number of first-generation and low-income undergraduates grows. Fifteen percent of Princeton freshmen are among the first in their families to attend college, and 21 percent are eligible for federal Pell grants for low-income students. Twelve years ago, 6 percent were first-gen and 7 percent were Pell-eligible.
This is where the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) comes in. SIFP is among various University resources that empower undergraduates, particularly those from first-gen and low-income backgrounds, to thrive at Princeton. The program was launched by the Office of the Dean of the College (ODOC) in fall 2015 to provide mentorship opportunities, academic enrichment, and a support network of students, faculty and staff.
All students who identify as first-generation and/or low income are welcome to join, and other students may participate as allies. About 250 undergraduates are members of SIFP.