43 state school students admitted early to top US universities including Harvard, Yale and Princeton

The daughter of a hairstylist and a teenage carer are among 43 British state school students from low and middle income homes who have won places to study at top US universities through the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in conjunction with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, it was announced today.

The daughter of a hairstylist and a teenage carer are among 43 British state school students from low and middle income homes who have won places to study at top US universities through the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in conjunction with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, it was announced today. They will join 135 Sutton Trust alumni already studying in the States.

Jack Tait, 18, of Highams Park School in Chingford, has been offered a place at Princeton, an Ivy League university in New Jersey. Jack will be one of the first in his family to go to university and is the first person in his school to apply to US universities.  

Kerry O’Neil, who is 17 and from Glasgow, has been offered a place at another Ivy League institution, the University of Pennsylvania. The Notre Dame High School student is the first person in her school to apply to a US institution and will be the first in her family to go to university.

The 43 students, who come from across the country, have won places at 28 different institutions through the early admissions deadline, including four at Harvard, four at Princeton and two at Yale. This is a rise from last year when 38 students on the Sutton Trust programme won places through early admissions.

53% of the students admitted early are from households that earn less than £25,000 a year, and 86% will be the first in their family to go to university. Between them they have already been offered $10m of financial aid from the universities over the next four years, meaning many of them will graduate with little to no debt. 

Although applications to US universities have increased in recent years – there are now over 5,000 British undergraduates at American universities - students from less advantaged homes may not have access to the same level of support and resources for US admissions that their counterparts from fee-paying schools might have. The Sutton Trust US Programme, now in its fourth year, encourages academically talented, low and middle incomeBritish students to consider studying at American universities.

Last year, 150 students were selected for a summer school in the US at either Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spending a week last summer living on campus and visiting a number of other US campuses. For over half of the students, this was their first trip to the US. They benefited from residential activities and received an intensive programme of support, delivered by the US-UK Fulbright Commission over a number of months before and after their US visit, which covered admission tests, college choices and the application process.

The programme is made possible through support from its founding corporate sponsor, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Their investment is matched by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing who have supported the programme since its launch. The programme is also supported by a very generous anonymous donor, the London Stock Exchange Group Foundation, Big Change and EducationUSA.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“Our US Programme is a life-changing experience so I’m delighted that so many young people from low and middle income backgrounds have benefited from it this year. The 43 talented students will enjoy a broad and varied curriculum and, with generous financial aid packages on offer, will graduate from some of the world’s best universities debt-free. 

“I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in America is well within their grasp. ”

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“To have 43 state school students admitted early to some of the best universities in the world is testament to the calibre and talent of our programme participants. The well-deserved amount of financial aid offered to these students means that a prestigious American higher education is within the grasp of gifted low-income students from the UK. We are thrilled by their successes, and I am sure there will be more good news in the spring. This programme transforms lives and the partnership with the Sutton Trust is a great source of pride for the Fulbright Commission.”

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said today:

“The enthusiasm and drive of the students participating in this initiative never fail to impress me; I commend Sutton Trust for their work in providing this educational opportunity to young people most in need. As part of our company’s efforts to drive youth employment, our partnership with Sutton Trust is affording these talented students with an opportunity that will change lives. I’m very proud to be part of that.”

The US Programme is based on the Sutton Trust’s successful flagship programme in the UK which now runs at 10 leading British universities and has benefited over ten thousand state school students.