Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego
What is ATI’s goal?
The American Talent Initiative (ATI) was formed in December 2016 with a goal to attract, enroll, and graduate an additional 50,000 lower-income students at the 334 colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. ATI members are a subset of these 334 high-graduation-rate institutions. We currently measure progress toward the 50,000-by-2025 goal by using Pell enrollment data collected on an annual basis from ATI members and obtained for non-member eligible institutions via IPEDS (for more information, visit the “What We Do” page of our website). Each year, ATI staff report on ATI members’ collective progress towards the 50,000-by-2025 goal.
The graph below demonstrates ATI’s collective progress between 2015-16 and 2019-20, the most recent year for which we have data for nearly all members (n=130). It also displays enrollment trends through 2020-21 for the 115 members that submitted these data.
Current and Prior Year Reports
Released in December 2018, this first public report on ATI’s progress shares notable Pell growth amongst ATI members between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Released in February 2020, ATI’s second report highlights Pell growth amongst the ATI-eligible institutions through the 2018-19 school year, but points to initial signs of a leveling off of progress.
Released in June 2021, this report summarizes all ATI member-submitted data.
Released in June 2021, ATI’s third report provides an update on ATI’s progress through Fall 2020 and describes plans to accelerate opportunity in response to both pre-COVID and COVID-era challenges.
*The years displayed refer to Fall enrollment for each year.
Where is ATI today?
Despite the initiative’s early success, ATI members (n=130, at the time of this report) have collectively lost ground toward the 50,000-by-2025 goal.
- Between 2015-16 and 2019-20, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ATI members collectively increased Pell enrollment by only 10,417 students, which reflects a 3,873 decline in Pell enrollment between 2018-19 and 2019-20. These pre-pandemic trends are mostly due to large declines at a small set of ATI member public institutions that enroll very high shares of Pell students and insufficient progress at a set of institutions with very low Pell shares.
- Between 2019-20 and 2020-21: In late 2020 and early 2021, we asked members to submit Fall 2020 enrollment data to understand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on lower-income student enrollment across the membership. Collectively, these 115 members experienced a single-year drop of 7,166 Pell students from 2019-20 to 2020-21, largely due to declines in first-time and transfer Pell student enrollment at public institutions and Pell student retention rates at private institutions. These COVID-era declines have nearly returned Pell enrollment levels amongst ATI members to 2015-16 levels. For more information on how ATI members are seeking to reverse these declines, click here to learn more about the Accelerating Opportunity campaign.
ATI members have demonstrated, though, that progress is possible: 80 ATI members increased Pell enrollment by at least 2 percent, with 53 of those institutions increasing Pell enrollment by more than 8 percent. Collectively, these institutions enrolled about 20,000 additional Pell students. And, even with the uncertainty of COVID, 31 members increased Pell enrollment in Fall 2020.
What level of progress have ATI members made?
A number of ATI member institutions have led the way toward enrolling and graduating lower-income students, laying the groundwork for collective progress toward these aspirational goals.
View the ATI members with the largest Pell enrollment growth, highest rate of Pell growth, and highest Pell enrollment shares:
|Largest Growth: 2015-16 to 2019-20||Highest Rate of Growth: 2015-16 to 2019-20||Highest Pell Share 2019-20|
|University of California-San Diego||1469||Washington University in St Louis||75%||University of California-Merced||64%|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||1413||Colby College||72%||University of California-Riverside||52%|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||1401||Princeton University||56%||Spelman College||43%|
|University of California-Merced||1399||Yale University||55%||University of California-Irvine||39%|
|George Mason University||1303||Gettysburg College||51%||Stony Brook University||36%|
|University of California-Riverside||876||Claremont McKenna College||48%||University of Central Florida||36%|
|Stony Brook University||758||Swarthmore College||40%||University of California-Davis||36%|
|University of Central Florida||718||Centre College||39%||University of California-San Diego||36%|
|Texas A & M University-College Station||710||University of California-Merced||37%||University of California-Santa Barbara||33%|
|Boston University||598||Lafayette College||35%||Knox College||32%|
Members from across the initiative have made gains under even the most trying of circumstances, illustrating that progress is possible in a variety of contexts. Some specific institutional examples of success are:
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) increased the share of Pell students enrolled from 12 to 19 percent. CMC continued to increase Pell enrollment through Fall 2020, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, George Mason University increased Pell enrollment by 1,303 students. As of Fall 2020, more than 30 percent of George Mason’s students received Pell grants.
Since Fall 2015, Susquehanna University has maintained a Pell share above 25 percent, an above-average share amongst other private, high-graduation-rate institutions. Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, the university increased Pell enrollment by 27 students, despite overall enrollment challenges due to COVID-19.
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, the University of California, Riverside has maintained a Pell share above 50 percent. During that time, UC-Riverside increased Pell enrollment by more than 800 students.
Each fall, the University of Central Florida enrolls 2,200+ incoming Pell transfer students, which represents more than half of all incoming Pell students (Pell first-years and Pell transfers) and nearly 18 percent of incoming students overall.
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2020, the University of Dayton increased the share of Pell students enrolled from 10 percent to 14 percent, with plans to further increase to at least 19 percent by Fall 2025. Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, Dayton increased Pell enrollment by 111 students, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, the University of Illinois increased the share of Pell students enrolled from 21 to 25 percent. Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, Illinois increased Pell enrollment by 60 students.
Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, Yale University increased the share of Pell students enrolled from 13 percent to 18 percent, with plans to further increase to 20 percent by Fall 2025.