Low-income and first-generation (LIFG) students share the challenge of navigating Carleton and participating in activities that might enhance their Carleton experience. During the 2015–16 academic year, Dean of Students Carolyn H. Livingston created a working group to review challenges and opportunities, and to provide recommendations on how to best improve experiences and outcomes.


Students’ feelings about talking about socioeconomic status in groups and among people they don’t know.

Main Findings and Recommendations

Entering Carleton

  • Challenges: Insufficient academic preparation & culture shock.
  • Opportunities: We recommend additional programming for and about LIFG students at New Student Week, a mentorship program for LIFG students, and more information about the transition.

Being at Carleton

  • Challenges: Financial and cultural stressors.
  • Opportunities: We recommend increased transparency about available resources via a centralized source and more social support from regularly offered sessions for LIFG students.

Preparing to leave Carleton

  • Challenges: Limited experience and financial literacy
  • Opportunities: We recommend creating greater awareness of and support for career-relevant experiences while at Carleton.

What has been done?

  • A student-made resource guide Beyond Financial Aid.
  • A key recommendation emerging from the Winter 2016 community conversations and the Low-Income and First-Generation Working Group was creating a laptop loaner program for those students who may not have the resources to afford one. The Dean of Students Office, in collaboration with Information Technology Services, is creating a 2-year pilot program for 16 students to use new Chromebooks while at Carleton
  • Provide better and more transparent information regarding resources available to low income students.
  • Review access to dining and housing for students whose finances require them to remain on campus during break.
  • Consider increasing print quotas.

What’s next?

  • Create New Student Week programming that emphasizes socioeconomic diversity
  • Identify and reduce hidden curriculum costs.
  • Seek as part of its fundraising to endow internships and externships for students who cannot afford to work for free or low pay.
  • See similar support for summer research opportunities on and off-campus.