Frequently Asked Questions


When is the application due?

The application for the 2020 Princeton Summer Journalism Program is due before midnight on Monday, February 17, 2020.

Where can I find more information about the application process?

You can answer most questions by exploring our website, including the Apply section. However, if you do not find the answer to your questions, feel free to reach out to our staff at

I’m nervous about my essays. I don’t know what to write.

When writing your essays, don’t stress over perfection. We are not looking for professional quality work ready for the front page of a newspaper. However, we are looking for:

  • Passion/interests: our number one goal is to learn more about you by reading about what’s important to you. There is no “right” answer or topic. Let your curiosity and your interests come alive in your essays/articles.
  • Focus: pay attention to the question or essay prompt and be sure to stay on topic.
  • Writing ability: while your work does not need to be cover-ready, we do expect you to take the prompts and the essays seriously and to put effort into making them good. We expect essays to flow well, have a clear structure and message, and to follow basic guidelines about grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling (i.e. proofread).
Do you have any advice on completing the application?

We do, actually!

  1. Plan ahead. The application asks several questions about you, your education and interests, your family, and your financial background. Give yourself enough time to complete the application without feeling rushed, especially if you intend to submit it in one sitting. Although the application allows you to save your work and return, it will not save automatically. We recommend creating an account, completing the application gradually, filling in the easy questions as soon as possible, and taking the time you need to write the essays and fill in any explanations.
  2. Look through the application to review the questions ASAP when you have a chance, even if you don't fill them all in just yet. That way, you can plan ahead and collect the information you need in advance. The last thing you want to do is sit down to complete the application at the last minute (as some of you inevitably will) only to find that it's late at night, and you need to ask someone for information that you do not have but need to complete the application.
  3. We recommend writing your essays and article in Word or Google Docs, and then transferring them into the application form.
  4. Proofread and edit your application carefully before submitting. It is the most commonly given advice because it is the most commonly overlooked mistake!
  5. Please follow all instructions (including the word limit) and read the prompts carefully.
  6. Pay attention to the deadline(s) for submitting the different components of your application. If you have any questions or just want to double-check, it’s better to send us a quick email or call to verify. We’re happy to help!
  7. When submitting your application or when contacting us for any reason, use an email address to which you will have regular access throughout the application process. Do not change your email address or stop checking email in the middle of the application process. Be sure to clearly state your concern or question if you reach out to us via email.
Can you contact me when the application opens next year?

No need. The application is already open. Go check it out!




What if I don’t meet one or more of the eligibility requirements?

We will review all applications submitted by high school juniors and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. While students meeting the eligibility requirements are prioritized above all others in our process, we understand that there can be extenuating circumstances that warrant a second look. Read on below for more specific information about different situations.

Do students have to be juniors to be considered?

In effect. Students must be current juniors during the 2019-2020 academic year or students who will graduate in the Class of 2021. Otherwise, no current senior or sophomore will be considered. No exceptions.


If you are a 9th or 10th grader or would like to be added to our mailing list, please sign-up here.

Should I report my current/semester GPA or my cumulative GPA?

Students should report their most updated cumulative GPA.

If my GPA is lower than a 3.5 unweighted, can I still apply for SJP?

PSJP will review every application that is submitted by a high school junior. If your GPA is below a 3.5, we will require an explanation of why you should be considered and take into account an upward trend in grades, the rigor of your courses and any disruptions to your education.

If I attend a private school on financial aid, am I eligible to apply?

As a journalism AND college prep program for high school students from socioeconomically underresourced backgrounds, PSJP gives priority consideration to students attending public schools. However, we do review every application and try to understand the full context of students' experiences. If you think your school and family background still qualify as "under-resourced," you should apply and add additional information about that. 

If I am not a US citizen, can I still apply?

All students living and attending high school in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including refugees and undocumented and DACAmented students, are encouraged to apply.

Our family’s income exceeds the cutoff for eligibility. Should I apply?

Any student whose family does not meet the income requirements specified should write a statement on their application explaining why they think their background still qualifies. PSJP will review every application that is submitted, taking into account family size, cost of living in your area, and all other application factors when making a final decision. 

My income and family circumstances would not qualify as low-income or socioeconomically disadvantaged. Can we pay for my child to attend?

We appreciate your willingness to contribute to the program! You can learn more about making a tax-deductible contribution to PSJP on our “Support PSJP” page. However, please note that your contribution will have no bearing on your student's application for admission. PSJP is intended for students from socioeconomically under-resourced backgrounds. We do not accept payment for students to attend the program. If you are certain your family will not qualify financially for PSJP, we recommend looking into paid programs offered by other universities and news outlets.

I don’t know if I want to pursue a career in journalism.

PSJP is, first and foremost, intended for students who are interested in journalism—who are planning to write for their college newspapers and who are at least strongly considering an eventual career in journalism. Some students have not been able to write for a formal school paper, do not have access to one in their high schools, or have only just started writing in their spare time. That’s OK!! You should apply. We don't require students to have experience as a journalist. However, every year, we receive applications from students who are smart and talented—but who are not really interested in journalism. Apply to this program only if you have a serious interest in learning about journalism.


Family Information Questions

I don't currently live with my parents. Whose tax information should I send?

Please contact our office at so we can talk through how best to proceed.

My parents haven’t yet filed taxes for 2019. Can I use tax information from 2017 or 2018.

If you are completing the online application (Round 1), you do not need exact information about income, although it helps. If 2019 tax information is not available, you may use 2018 tax information or 2019 W-2 or other pre-tax forms for estimates. If neither is available, provide your best guess. If you are advanced to Round 2, we will require official tax forms to verify income for all students whose families file taxes.

Should I include people who live in our house who aren't my siblings?

There is a place on the application for you to include siblings and "other dependents." This includes every minor or grandparent living in the home who is supported primarily by your parent or guardian’s income. Do not include live-in significant others (boyfriend/girlfriend) if they are not married to your parent/guardian. Aunts, uncles, family friends, and other adults living with your family are not included in your household as a dependent for our purposes, even if your parent/guardian supports them.


Questions about PSJP

When are the program dates for 2020?

Our residential summer program runs from Friday, July 31 - Monday, August 10, 2020. Students arrive on the first day of the program, July 31, but may leave from home the night before if they are coming from far away. Students leave from the program the afternoon of August 10. Please see the 2019 Program Schedule for a detailed itinerary of last year's program.

Do I have to stay the entire time?

Yes, participants are expected to stay for the duration of the program from July 31 - Aug 10. If you are accepted into the program but have a conflict that requires you to leave before Aug 10 -- for example, the start of the academic year at your high school -- you should make alternative preparations with your high school or those in charge of your obligations to ensure that you can stay for the full length of the program.

What is the cost of the program?

PSJP is completely free. We arrange and pay for all travel, lodging, food, and supplies during the summer program, although students are encouraged to bring spending money for souvenirs or treats off-campus.

How will I get to Princeton? Do I need to arrange my own ride or flight?

All transportation to and from Princeton and while in NJ and participating in the program is covered and arranged by PSJP. We will work with participants and their families to arrange the best travel plan, taking into consideration distance, time of travel, arrival and departure needs, and available options. Students and their families are responsible for getting themselves to and from the airport or train stations in their hometowns. Students traveling from NYC Penn Station on NJ Transit will be accompanied by a PSJP staff member. All other students will be met at the airport or train station by a PSJP intern or counselor.

Where will I sleep during the program?

All of our participants live in dorms on Princeton’s campus during their stay. A few counselors stay in the dorms as chaperones, as well. Students from nearby must sleep on campus for the duration of the program.

I have family in the Princeton area. Can I stay with them?

No. All participants must stay in the dorms. Students are not permitted to leave campus during their stay unless attending a PSJP field trip or accompanied by a PSJP staff member.

Am I guaranteed admission to Princeton if I participate in PSJP?

No. PSJP is not a recruitment or bridge program. Admission to Princeton is not a guarantee for any PSJP participant. Students should only apply for PSJP if they have a genuine interest in journalism.

Does PSJP provide any financial support for college?

PSJP is not a scholarship-granting program, and we do not provide any funds for the college admissions process. However, PSJP counselors work with students to identify and apply for colleges and universities with a strong commitment to financial aid for low-income and first-generation students. Counselors guide students through applying for financial aid.

What if I get sick during the program?

Students should bring any legal over-the-counter and prescription medicines they are taking with them to the program. There is a CVS across from campus for students to purchase any additional health-related items they will need. PSJP participants also have access to the McCosh Center through Princeton University Health Services.

Do PSJP participants really go into journalism afterward?

Of course they do! Many also come back to serve as counselors for the program. Learn more about our outcomes and read articles by PSJP alumni.