At Penn, all undergraduate financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need. Penn does not offer aid based on academic or athletic merit. Penn covers demonstrated financial need with financial aid packages that consist entirely of grant funding and work study, assisting families across a wide range of the economic spectrum. This makes it possible for students from a variety of backgrounds to afford a Penn education.
Our highest institutional priority is to prepare promising students of all races, religions,
and backgrounds to become the leaders and innovators of the future.
The Penn Compact 2022 affirms inclusion as a means toward the essential ends of higher education: equalizing opportunity, educating leaders for all sectors of society, and enriching the experience of all members of the University community.
The cornerstone of Penn’s initiative to increase access for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds is its grant-based financial aid program. Since its launch in 2008, more than 19,000 undergraduate students have had 100% of their demonstrated financial needs met. At Penn today, about a third of aided students are first-generation, from a lower income background, or both, and the University has taken significant steps—including creating and supporting the growth of the Penn First Plus initiative—to ensure that these students are able to thrive throughout their time on campus.
The Power of Penn Campaign has expanded Penn’s robust undergraduate grant-based financial aid program and has grown graduate and professional student aid to minimize the burden of debt. Since Dr. Gutmann joined Penn in 2004, the University has awarded $2.6 billion in aid to students. Compared to 17 years ago, it costs on average 19 percent less (in inflation-adjusted dollars) for students receiving aid to attend Penn.
"At Penn, one in seven first year students are first in their families to go to college; in 2006, that number was one in 20. As a first-generation college graduate myself, my greatest passion is creating opportunities for outstanding students to aim higher than they ever dreamed."Amy Gutmann, Penn President
Penn’s ongoing commitment to expand access and increase diversity extends to international students, through programs such as Penn World Scholars, as well as millions of learners who will never step foot on Penn’s campus, through the Penn Online Learning Initiative.
Dr. Gutmann’s efforts to increase student diversity under the Penn Compact 2022 is equaled by a concomitant drive to increase faculty diversity. Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence outlines an extensive plan to recruit, retain, and mentor ever more distinguished and diverse faculty, and is backed by $100 million in institutional investments. Since the Action Plan was spearheaded in 2011, the proportion of underrepresented minorities on the standing faculty grew by 53 percent and the proportion of women faculty grew by 33 percent at the same time as the faculty grew by 12 percent.
In recent years, Dr. Gutmann has also appointed important administrators serving in brand new roles of Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Social Equity and Community to advance priorities including Projects for Progress and Campaign for Community.
Additionally, under Dr. Gutmann’s leadership, Penn has implemented an extensive list of economic inclusion initiatives in its Human Resources, Business Services, and Facilities and Real Estate Services arms, that increase employment opportunities, support small and local businesses, and promote goals—for instance, with construction projects—that aspire to contract significantly with minority and women-owned companies.
The Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence outlines initiatives that help Penn recruit and retain an ever more distinguished and diverse faculty whose composition reflects the pool of exceptional, qualified applicants nationally in all fields. The Plan’s goal is to create an inclusive community where all feel welcomed, supported, and have equal access to networks for mentoring and research.
The Office of Social Equity and Community is committed to identifying opportunities for connection and progress in the three pillars of Penn’s ongoing mission—inclusion, innovation, and impact—while also celebrating work that is already underway through the heads, hearts, and hands of the many dedicated people who bring Penn to life.
The Penn World Scholars Program brings outstanding international undergraduates to Penn from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. Selected for their potential to pursue lives of impactful leadership and service, as well as their academic achievement and financial need, they receive financial support throughout their time at Penn that is consistent with the most generous awards available to undergraduates.
School of Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel participated in a panel discussion about health equity in Philadelphia. She said the pandemic has revealed the connections between social determinants of health, differences in quality of care, and access to health care. “We are still living with the sins of the past,” she said. “And I think in order for us to move forward, we have to address the structural-related issue.”
Black and brown women are underrepresented in STEM fields. This program works with K-12 girls to fix that
Janine Remillard of the Graduate School of Education spoke about a local program that prepares Black girls for careers in STEM fields. “Black girls need to be in an environment where they can thrive by being supported as learners, and by being able to look around and see others like themselves,” she said.
Dean Erika James of the Wharton School discussed gender diversity in corporate America and the pipeline to leadership roles. In addition to empowering women to pursue these careers, James says, “we also have to also look at the organizational structures themselves that make it challenging for women and young people to succeed.”
Raina Merchant of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about Accelerate Health Equity, a public health coalition aiming to improve racial equity in health care in Philadelphia.