Access to high-quality higher education is the
single greatest gateway to economic opportunity.

Amy Gutmann


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 2004, the University has awarded $2 billion in undergraduate aid to more than 22,000 students. Forty-six percent of undergraduate students received grant-based financial aid in 2018-19, with an average package of $54,301.

The Power of Penn Campaign is expanding Penn’s robust undergraduate grant-based financial aid program and growing graduate and professional student aid to minimize the burden of debt. Penn is building spaces like the New College House West that unite people with common interests under one roof, and empower first-generation college students to achieve their full potential through the Penn First Plus initiative.

At Penn, one in seven freshmen is a first-generation college student; 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.

Penn President Amy Gutmann

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. Amy 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, Penn has seen a 22 percent increase in female faculty and 46 percent increase in underrepresented minority faculty.

Signature Initiatives

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.

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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.

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Penn is one of the four founding university partners of the Coursera online learning platform and partnered with the edX platform to further increase global access to Penn knowledge and resources. The Penn Online Learning Initiative has become a campus-wide effort dedicated to sharing a piece of the Penn experience with curious minds from almost every country in the world.

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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.

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Penn Compact Inclusion in the News

Philadelphians react after Congress approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday | 2021-06-17 Eve Higginbotham of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the significance of Juneteenth. "It's a day of reflection as well as an acknowledgment that, going forward, we still have work to do," she said. “We still need people engaged, but we need people to translate their reflections into action.”
$90 million HBCU partnership aims to increase diversity in high finance
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | 2021-06-16 The Wharton School will create a virtual institute for HBCU students interested in the alternative-investment industry.
The ideas of the first Black economics Ph.D. offer solutions to our problems today
The Washington Post | 2021-06-15 Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American with a doctoral degree in economics, advocated for economic justice after graduating from Penn in 1921.
Hindu Americans can lead in embracing the Equality Act
Philadelphia Inquirer | 2021-06-14 Murali Balaji of the Annenberg School for Communication called for Hindu Americans to support the Equality Act, which would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expand protections for religious minorities. “The Hindu American community can not only join other faith communities but can take the lead on how to embrace everyone as equally divine,” he wrote.