The generosity of the Shomans and other donors will have a far-reaching, tangible impact, said Senior Vice President for Advancement Sergio Gonzalez.
“We want the best students from around the world to choose Brown, and we believe that their socioeconomic background should not be a barrier to making that choice,” Gonzalez said. “We’re fortunate at Brown to have a community who shares that belief.”
In an overwhelming show of support, donations to the initiative came from six continents, and the donors included parents of current students, parents of alumni, and alumni representing every decade of graduates from the 1950s through the 2010s, he noted.
“The response to this initiative is a testament to the importance of providing financial aid for our international students, as well as to the power and generosity of the global Brown community,” Gonzalez said.
Building on a legacy of expanding access
Brown’s international financial aid initiative is part of the University’s long-term, sustained commitment over the last two decades to making a Brown education more accessible to exceptionally talented students from all income levels.
In 2003, Brown implemented a need-blind admission policy for domestic undergraduates, which eliminated any consideration of an applicant’s ability to pay tuition. In 2008, the University eliminated parent contributions for families with incomes below $60,000 and replaced loans with scholarships for students from families with incomes under $100,000. Ten years later, Brown eliminated packaged loans from all undergraduate financial aid awards, replacing them instead with scholarship funds, as part of the Brown Promise, which became permanent in 2023 when the University surpassed a fundraising goal to fully endow the initiative.
In the two years since Brown established the $120 million fundraising goal for international financial aid, early gifts from dedicated donors have already enabled the University to more than double international aid. The impact of increasing aid was evident immediately, contributing to an increase in the share of international students in the Class of 2026, which was 14%, compared to 11% the year before, Powell said.
During the last two admission cycles, for the Class of 2026 and the Class of 2027, international undergraduates matriculated from a total of 98 countries, more than a 12% increase in the number of countries students hailed from in the previous two classes.
Prior to the launch of the initiative, 15% of international undergraduates received financial aid; in the Class of 2027, 40% receive financial aid. The increased funding has also enabled the University to support international students in new and expanded ways, like a group of Ukrainian students in the Class of 2026 for whom the University is covering 100% of the cost of a Brown education, Powell noted.
“That’s an example of one of the ways that these additional resources have allowed Brown to admit and support students, like the students from Ukraine who were displaced by conflict,” Powell said. “We can do things differently than we have before, and we can offer opportunities to students who need financial aid from a much broader set of international backgrounds than was ever possible in the past.”
In Fall 2023, in addition to many virtual recruitment events, Brown’s Office of Undergraduate Admission held events in 20 countries, up from 13 countries in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person recruitment. Thanks to these resources, the admissions team aims to travel to around 30 countries next year.
For Andres Filizzola, a junior from Asuncion, Paraguay, concentrating in biology, Brown’s Open Curriculum has enabled him to explore a range of subjects, from computer science to economics. Outside of his classes, he has been immersed in the hands-on experience of supporting cancer research in a campus laboratory.