Source: Undergraduate Financial Aid Office

Source: Undergraduate Financial Aid Office

The Class of 2018 includes a record 290 students from low-income backgrounds (defined as the lower three quintiles of U.S. household income: less than $65,000). That’s 22 percent of the class, up from 19.7 percent of freshmen defined as low-income a year ago and 10.6 percent a decade ago. The Class of ’18 family income:

The percentage of Pell-grant recipients, another measure of socioeconomic diversity, also is increasing: from 7.2 percent of the freshman class 10 years ago to 14.5 percent last year and 18 percent this year.

“This is a real victory for Princeton,” Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said of the Pell numbers, “and we will redouble our efforts this year.”

The share of the class from the top 5 percent of incomes — families earning more than $191,000 — also increased slightly since last year, from 49 percent to 50 percent. “There was a slight squeeze in the middle,” said Robin Moscato, director of undergraduate financial aid, referring to families earning between $104,000 and $191,000.

Rapelye noted that 68 of this year’s freshmen came to Princeton with assistance from QuestBridge, a nonprofit working to increase the number of low-income students at elite universities, up from 54 last year.

The University is putting special emphasis on recruiting low- and middle-income students on fall visits to California’s central valley and southern region and to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and financial-aid staff members will accompany admission representatives for the first time on those trips to meet with students, parents, community organizations, and guidance counselors.

Princeton ranked No. 34 in The New York Times’ College Access Index, a new effort to measure top colleges’ economic-diversity efforts based on Pell grants and the net price to low- and middle-income families. Moscato said that data used to calculate the index, including a “very restrictive definition” of students receiving financial aid, contributed to the University’s position in the ranking.  By W.R.O.