Goal #1: A Carleton education will be fully accessible to talented students from all backgrounds and income levels

Action 1

We will expand no-loan financial aid to a wider income band, and lower loan levels for all students.

Strategy 2.1.1 of the IDE Plan called upon the College to examine its financial aid policies and seek ways to reduce the financial burden on students. While Carleton students have levels of indebtedness significantly lower than national averages, we recognize that for students with the lowest family incomes, any level of debt can be difficult to manage. Some of Carleton’s liberal arts college peers have limited or eliminated loans from their financial aid packaging, making our financial aid offers less competitive for students with high levels of financial need.

As recommended by the May 2023 report of the Financial Aid Working Group, Carleton will establish a new policy of no loans for families with incomes of less than $100,000 (or 150 percent of the median U.S. household income). This would eliminate loans for approximately 24 percent of Carleton students. Further, for all students on financial aid, we will reduce the loan burden for income thresholds above $100,000 to a maximum of $3,000 per year. This will decrease the average loan burden for the remaining 31 percent of financial aid recipients by approximately $2,875 annually and $11,500 over a student’s four years.

Action 2

We will achieve greater socioeconomic breadth with both an increased percentage of low-income (Pell-eligible, DACA and undocumented) students through the Carleton Access Initiative and a continued commitment to middle-income families.

We will expand the socioeconomic diversity of the student body by increasing the number of students in the lower end of the overall income range while maintaining the middle-income target at 30 percent to avoid the barbell (bi-modal) family income distribution that is often seen at highly selective institutions. As detailed in the report of the Financial Aid Working Group, this would involve increasing the percentage of the lowest family incomes in the student body from the current 8.7 percent to 10 percent over four years.

Expanding the number of students from lower-income families will also increase the total number of students on financial aid at Carleton, from the current 56 percent to approximately 58 percent. Increasing the lowest-income students while maintaining our middle-income percentage will require additional resources. The Carleton Access Initiative fundraising drive already underway will be one important source of funding for this goal.

Action 3

We will implement new admissions recruiting strategies, including elimination of legacy preference, to support our diversity efforts following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on race-conscious admissions.

Objective 2.1 of the IDE Plan calls for the College to “increase the percentage and retention of historically underserved students with a focus on Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other underrepresented groups.” The July 2023 U.S. Supreme Court decision on race-conscious admissions does not change our commitment to this goal, but it means we will need to employ new strategies to achieve it. These will include enhanced community partnerships, targeted geographic outreach, elimination of legacy preference in admissions, and other efforts to expand Carleton’s visibility among demographic groups we seek to attract.

The financial aid recommendations noted previously will also play a key role in this effort. We will also work to ensure that our processes are attentive to the need to establish clear pathways to success at Carleton for all admitted students.

Goal 1 Metrics:

  • Average debt at graduation (decrease)
  • Percentage of Pell-eligible students (increase)
  • Percentage of BIPOC and historically underrepresented students (increase)
  • The New York Times Accessibility Index ranking (increase)