A progress report just released by the American Talent Initiative (ATI) indicates that despite the global pandemic, Colby is one of the country’s top schools in overcoming national trends and expanding its commitment to enrolling and retaining lower-income students.

Colby has shown a 72-percent growth rate in Pell grant enrollments from 2015 to 2020, according to the ATI’s Third Annual Progress Report, released June 30. Colby is one of 80 institutions nationwide that has collectively added 20,000 Pell students in the years leading up to the pandemic, the report notes.

“This is a testament to the incredible achievements of our students as well as the College’s unwavering efforts to attract the most talented students from all backgrounds,” said Matt Proto, vice president for enrollment and communications.

Colby’s financial aid packages have been recognized as among the most generous for the neediest students by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Colby Commitment promises to meet each admitted student’s full demonstrated financial need without including student loans in financial aid packages. Families with a total income of $65,000 or less and typical assets can expect a parent or guardian contribution of $0.

Miler Library
Even as the pandemic widened existing inequities across higher education, Colby reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that students from lower-income backgrounds are encouraged to apply. A Colby education includes recent investments in sector-leading programs and facilities; new programs such as the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation, and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment; robust civic engagement opportunities; the most comprehensive D-III athletic facility in the country—the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center; and an elevated commitment to the arts through the Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Institute for American Art, and the upcoming Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

The American Talent Initiative is a coalition of 125 institutions pursuing the common goal of enrolling and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025. Its current report summarizes progress and setbacks experienced at institutions nationwide during the pandemic, highlighting what ATI says is a renewed sense of urgency in realizing its goals.

“Greater access and success for lower-income students at places like Colby is more important than ever,” said Randi Arsenault ’09, dean of admissions. “Students nationwide deserve the opportunity to benefit from the world-class education we provide.”