Third-Century Plan Update - March 2022

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Colgate has long had success in attracting talented students. However, with the Third-Century Plan, Colgate has made a commitment to cast an even wider net to expand the pool of applicants as it moves into its third century. The University is intent on making its unique form of education accessible to as many high-achieving students as possible. 

The Colgate Commitment is the focus of these efforts. First, under this initiative, Colgate has become one of a small group of elite institutions that have publicly pledged to be tuition-free for their lowest-income students. Second, the Colgate Commitment aligns tuition costs with family income. For families with income of $125,000 or less, Colgate’s tuition will be capped at 5% of income. For families with income between $125,000 and $150,000, Colgate’s tuition is capped at 10% of family income. Finally, and perhaps most powerfully, the Colgate Commitment eliminates federal loans in student aid packages for families with income of $150,000 or less. Further, the University is committed to eliminating all federal loans for all of our students.  

In short, through the Colgate Commitment, Colgate has become one of the nation’s institutions most focused on affordability and access.

A preliminary analysis of the impact of the Colgate Commitment after its first full year reveals that 78% of no-loan–eligible students who chose Colgate believed their financial aid offers were superior to that of their other choices. Of that group, 60% indicated that Colgate’s value was far superior to their other options.

The impact on admissions has been immediate: Colgate received a record 21,000-plus applications for admission to the Class of 2026 — a 20.6% increase over the Class of 2025’s historic application numbers. Compared with two years ago, applications to Colgate have increased by 146%. Meanwhile, academic quality has increased. The Class of 2026, with its 12% acceptance rate, had applicants with an average GPA of 3.95.

Colgate’s position as a national leader in higher education will continue to depend on its ability to admit and enroll students of increasing promise and achievement — and that is why efforts to expand access to the University appear as Point 1, Section I of the Third-Century Plan.