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How Fairfield University Ended Up With Few Low-Income Students


FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Last night, the first official basketball game at Fairfield University’s brand-new, 85,000-square-foot Leo D. Mahoney Arena took place. The building, which cost $51 million, takes pride of place in the center of campus.Across Loyola Drive, in the suite of admission and financial aid offices in the Aloysius P. Kelley Center, the school has hit a different kind of milestone: The class of first-year students that entered in 2020 had the lowest percentage of Pell Grant recipients of any college in the United States — 7.5 percent — according to the most recent federal data.The federal government makes Pell Grants available to students from families with the lowest incomes in the country. So the figure has become a proxy for a higher education institution’s commitment to pulling students up from the lowest rungs of the social-class ladder.Is the Pell Grant the best metric to judge this commitment? Fairfield, a Jesuit institution whose mission includes fostering “ethical and religious values and a sense of social responsibility,” believes the measurement is “not particularly useful” or “modern.” Th …

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