Yale among national leaders in increasing lower-income student population

Yale identified as one of 28 “High-Flier” institutions that improve college access and provide opportunities for success among lower-income students.
People walking on Cross Campus.

Photo by Stephen Gamboa-Diaz

The American Talent Initiative (ATI), a national alliance of colleges and universities, has recognized Yale as a leader in making a college education accessible to high-achieving, lower-income students.

As part of its Accelerating Opportunity campaign, ATI identified Yale as one of 28 “High-Fliers” in U.S. higher education for rapidly increasing enrollment of undergraduate students eligible for Pell Grants, a federal need-based program for low-income students, and for Yale’s public commitment to further increasing the share of students from lower-income backgrounds.

As a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, Yale is proud to be part of the national movement to increase the number of low-income students at top schools by 2025,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “Over the past decade, Yale has doubled the number of undergraduates in the first-year class who receive a Pell Grant. Last year, I committed to Yale to continue making progress toward the goal of reaching 20% enrollment of undergraduates from lower-income backgrounds.

I continue to believe all students and universities stand to benefit from the American Talent Initiative, and I applaud those institutions who, like Yale, have maintained or expanded their commitment to enrolling students from lower-income backgrounds in the midst of demographic and economic challenges.”

The American Talent Initiative is a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported collaboration among the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R,  and more than 135 colleges and universities dedicated to substantially expanding opportunity and access for low- and moderate-income students. 

Since ATI’s launch in 2016, Yale has made significant gains in Pell share among 137 peers in the alliance, increasing the share of undergraduates receiving a Pell grant from 13% to 18%. And because Yale College also expanded total enrollment during that time, the total number of Pell-eligible undergraduate students enrolled at Yale rose more than 62% since 2016.

Several initiatives have helped Yale advance, said Mark Dunn, senior associate director of admissions for outreach and recruitment.

The admissions office has targeted its outreach towards high-achieving students from lower-income backgrounds,” he said. “This year our Yale Ambassadors program sent student representatives to visit more 660 high schools in 48 states, and we mailed tens of thousands of postcards with details of Yale’s commitment to affordability to students from lower-income census tracts.”

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,” said Dunn. These awards cover the full cost of tuition, on-campus housing, the meal plan, and health insurance through scholarship grants. Approximately 1,000 Yale College students receive these awards each year. 

ATI aims to increase socioeconomic diversity at America’s high-graduation rate institutions by enrolling, supporting, and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025. To realize this milestone, ATI facilitates research, practice-sharing, and communications campaigns around presidential leadership, access and affordability, community college transfer, student veteran engagement, and student success and equity in the academic experience.

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th mayor of New York City said, “I applaud ATI’s 28 High-Fliers for leading the way in this work and increasing the diversity of their campuses. We hope their efforts serve as an example for other schools that are committed to creating opportunity for more lower-income students, so we can accelerate national progress on this critical challenge.”

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