Shortly after I became Penn’s President, we announced that all undergraduate students eligible for financial aid would receive grant-based aid packages. It was a bold move, but one we felt a profound obligation to make. We were adamant that no Penn graduates should ever curtail their aspirations or constrain their dreams because of insupportable student loan debt.
Today, Penn sets the gold standard for excellence, access, and affordability. This University has the largest grant-based financial aid program in the country, allowing us to matriculate the very best and brightest students. Our message to students is clear: If we admit you, we will make Penn affordable for you, and provide the resources to help you succeed and thrive.
Penn has made dramatic progress since we adopted our grant-based policy. We now enroll 65 percent more Pell Grant recipients, and we have expanded the financial aid available to students from middle-income families. One in seven undergraduates are now the first in their families to attend college, dramatically up from one in twenty in 2004. During the same time period, Penn’s appeal among the very best students has soared, with applications increasing by nearly 150 percent. None of this would be possible without the donors who have helped us create one of the most robust and effective financial aid programs in higher education.
With every gift to support the most academically talented students, regardless of their ability to pay, we continue to uphold our most sacred ideals as an institution.
As I reflect on my own journey from first-generation undergraduate to university president, I am enormously grateful that the path before me was illuminated by the generosity of scholarship donors. With every gift, you too can light the way for future generations.
Please join me in supporting undergraduate financial aid at Penn.