Given the stereotype of Princeton as a school for the affluent, a recent project by two student organizations surprised many on campus: a COAT DRIVE intended to give low-income students the gear they need for a New Jersey winter.

In a larger-than-expected turnout, the drive — conducted in the fall by the Undergraduate Student Government and the Princeton Hidden Minority Council — distributed 60 to 70 coats before the supply ran out, said USG Student Life Committee Chair Kathy Chow ’17. Another 46 students emailed to inquire about receiving a coat in the following weeks, Chow said. She estimated that about 100 low-income students were in need of winter coats this year and that most received one before the temperature started to drop. Students did not have to show financial need to receive a coat.  

“There’s a complicated relationship between the money that [low-income students] are earning and what they’re spending it on because they’re coming in with monetary insecurity,” said Dallas Nan ’16, co-chair of the Hidden Minority Council, which provides support for low-income and first-generation students. “There’s the decision-making process of ‘should I take this money away from X to spend it on a coat when I could always put on a few more sweaters?’ ”

Robin Moscato, director of undergraduate financial aid, said her office constantly evaluates how to best meet the needs of students. Students on financial aid can draw from their personal-expense allowance or use money earned from work-study jobs if necessary, she said.