Princeton’s landmark financial aid program ensures that the University can admit the very best students, regardless of their financial circumstances. They receive grants and are not required to take out loans, allowing many to graduate debt-free.
This extraordinary opportunity is made possible in large part through scholarships created by alumni, parents, and friends; by alumni classes; or by corporations and foundations. Donors have established more than 1,000 endowed scholarship funds at Princeton, which provide 87 percent of the University’s financial aid assistance. This academic year, 3,146 students — 60 percent of undergraduates — are receiving aid.
Each year, scholarship recipients are asked to write a letter to their benefactors, telling them about the many opportunities this generosity has made possible. Here are a few excerpts from those letters:
“I have taken classes with truly inspiring professors, attended special lectures by notable speakers from architect Frank Gehry to poet Seamus Heaney, and, most importantly, I was able to study what I love.”
—Alexandra Hay ’12, English major with a concentration on arts and media, and certificates in Russian and Eurasian studies and European cultural studies
“I worked as a research and policy intern at the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa located in Lome, Togo. It was a life-changing experience, which also helped me make the decision to work as a researcher/policy maker after college.”
—Meicen Sun ’12, politics major with a certificate in theater
“After my official financial aid letter arrived, my family and I were astounded at the generosity of the University and its alumni. This award has relieved my family and me of a substantial financial burden. Our share, including my contribution, is manageable and we are so appreciative for that.”
—Stephanie Goldberg ’15
“Since I have come here, my experiences have expanded my knowledge to a global scale. Not only do I have the chance to sit in class with brilliant professors and fellow students, but also the chance to eat Canadian food one day and Georgian the next, while sitting next to my Brazilian and Chinese friends!”
—Sarthak Gupta ’14, mechanical and aerospace engineering major
“I came here with a dream and I believe I will be leaving the ‘orange bubble’ fully prepared to achieve that dream and so much more. I have been challenged academically and socially, and I will be leaving with a better sense of self and more self-drive than I can ever imagine. Thank you for funding this experience and these opportunities.”
—Maseray Kamara ’12, molecular biology major who plans to attend medical school
“I can’t thank you enough for the indescribable happiness that my attendance at Princeton has brought me. I hope that one day this gift you have given me will allow me to give the same gift to a future Princetonian.”
—Christopher Lando ’13, economics major
Providing support for the next generation of scholars is one of Princeton’s most enduring traditions.
One of Princeton’s earliest students, James Leslie, completed his education with the help of 13 British pounds from a “fund for pious youth,” according to A Princeton Companion. He graduated in 1759 and became a school teacher in New York City. When he died, Leslie left his carefully accumulated savings to Princeton. In his honor, President John Witherspoon designated this gift as “The Leslie Fund,” and it continues to support students today as part of the University’s endowment.