Arriving on campus amid a time of significant change at the University, the Class of 2026 nevertheless brings the characteristic diversity of an incoming first-year class. Respondents hail from 64 countries, 45 states, and three U.S. territories, and over half identify as students of color. Our newest Tigers graduated from home schools, boarding schools, public schools, and religious schools — some come from families who earn over $500,000 a year and approximately one-quarter have some family tie to the University. Read on to learn about community structures, employment histories, plans for financing a Princeton education, and more.
39.6 percent of the incoming class expects to pay full-price for their Princeton education. Of the remaining 60.4 percent of respondents who are receiving financial aid, nearly one-third attend Princeton for free. Geography interplays with financial considerations as only 16.4 percent of students from rural areas expected to pay full price, compared to over 45 percent of first-years from urban locales.
Most respondents indicated that they either plan to personally cover some or all of the cost of attendance, or that they are uncertain whether they would have to personally contribute to funding their education. The majority of respondents do not plan on taking out loans to cover the cost of college, though almost one-fifth indicated that they are unsure whether they will need to in the future. Students who are not receiving any financial aid were more likely than their aid-receiving peers to anticipate taking out loans, at 18.3 percent. This is a shift from last year’s survey, which indicated that students on aid were slightly more likely to anticipate taking out loans.
New Jersey residents represent the greatest proportion of incoming domestic Princetonians (14.3 percent), a figure roughly comprable to the population of international students (17.6 percent). The largest contingent of new non-American Tigers hail from Great Britain (2.3 percent of total, 13 percent of internationals). And Asia is the most popular continent of origin for international students (6.7 percent of total, 38.3 percent of internationals). Consider yourself lucky if you meet a frosh from Alaska, Mississippi, South Dakota, or Utah — nobody who answered the ‘Prince’ survey lives there.
Despite Princeton’s elite reputation, over half of the frosh who responded graduated from public high schools. 39.5 percent graduated from private schools and roughly 10 percent joined the Orange Bubble from boarding high schools, a number consistent with previous years. Further, the percentage of students who indicated that they took a gap year before arriving at Princeton has fallen since the most dire days of the pandemic — only 7.1 percent of students took time off, compared to 17 percent in the Class of 2025.
One in four members of the Class of 2026 identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, a figure roughly in line with the rest of Gen-Z, which stands closer to one in five. Further, 1.4 percent of the class identifies as transgender. On other identity-based metrics, first-years boast a high percentage of July-born respondents (11.4 percent), 18-year-olds (77.8 percent), and fluent Spanish speakers (17 percent) — though there are only nine 18-year-old July-born respondents who speak fluent Spanish (a little under 1 percent of the pool).
Before they joined the Princeton family, the Class of 2026 came from a wide variety of nuclear family structures. Just under half of respondents have one sibling, with 39.1 percent reporting that they are the oldest sibling. 13.2 percent of respondents report being only children, and 12.8 percent report being middle children. Most respondents (46.8 percent) have parents who graduated with a Master’s or Professional Degree, a figure disproportionate with the national rate of 13.1 percent.