Aug. 29, 2013

Cornell an accessible Ivy for low-income students

In 2010-11, Cornell University’s student body included more low-income students – 17 percent – than most competitive schools in New York state and the nation, according to a national survey.

The New York Times reported recently on Georgetown University research that found only 14 percent of students at the 50 most elite colleges and universities in the United States came from lower-income families.

Cornell was 15th on the list of 50 schools surveyed, all of which are considered elite or competitive as measured by test scores and percentage of applicants admitted. Rankings were based on the percentage of enrolled students receiving federal Pell Grants for the 2010-11 school year. Pell Grants usually are given to students whose family income is less than $30,000.

“Cornell’s strong institutional commitment to access, supported by our need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid policies, is reflected in our relatively high enrollment of students from Pell-eligible family situations,” said Vice Provost Barbara Knuth. “The entire campus benefits from the diverse perspectives and backgrounds these students contribute as part of our community.”

About 2,400 Cornell students received Pell Grants in 2010-11. At that time, the maximum grant allowed was $5,500 per student per year; and the average Pell Grant at Cornell was $4,105.

According to the survey, Cornell and Columbia University were the top Ivy League schools with low-income enrollment, both with 17 percent of their students receiving Pell Grants. The percentages varied among other peer institutions. While 18 percent of Stanford University students received the grants in 2010-11, only 12 percent at Princeton, 13 percent at Penn and 14 percent at Yale and Duke did. Dartmouth College had 16 percent enrollment of Pell Grant recipients; Brown, Harvard and Carnegie-Mellon universities had 15 percent.

Cornell also outranked two other upstate New York schools surveyed for low-income students: Hamilton College at 14 percent and Colgate University at 11 percent.

Amherst College, Emory University, the University of Southern California and Vassar College led the rankings, all with 22 percent.