Frequently Asked Questions

Please take a moment to read through our Frequently Asked Questions for general guidance about the application process and participating in the program.

Princeton University has cancelled all on-campus programming for the summer of 2020 through August 15. The Princeton Summer Journalism Program will take place virtually beginning in late June and run through mid-August. More information will be provided to students during interviews and updated online as it becomes finalized.

Applying: Round 1

When is the application due?

Round 1 of the application process for the 2020 Princeton Summer Journalism Program has passed. We are no longer accepting new applications. If you have been invited to Round 2 of the application process, please go to that section below for more information. If you applied for Round 1 but have not received an update, please check your inbox and spam/junk folders and contact us at if you do not find it.

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?

If you are 9th or 10th grader or work with any, you can sign up to be contacted when the application opens by using this form.

If you're a current junior or senior, unfortunately, you are no longer eligible.



Applying: Round 2

I applied during Round 1 but haven't received anything since. Have you released decisions already about Round 2??

We released decisions about Round 2 on March 11. If you did not receive your decision, please check your spam and if it's not there, contact the program at

How do I submit my documents for Round 2?

Students who were selected to submit additional documents for Round 2 of the application process should have received an email containing detailed instructions for submitting documents electronically. Please refer to the newest message, sent March 17, for more information about what to submit and how. 

Be sure to read the email thoroughly, as some special circumstances are already explained in there. If you have a special circumstance that is not addressed in the email, please contact the program at

My school is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and I am not able to get paper documents to mail. What should I do?

We appreciate the incredible challenges students and their school communities are facing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and are now allowing students and their school staff to submit documents electronically. Please carefully read through the latest Round 2 update, sent March 17, for more guidance.

I submitted a transcript with my initial application. Do I have to submit another one?

The short answer is yes. Since we required only an unofficial transcript for the first round of the application, we now require an official transcript for this round to verify your most recent academic record. If the transcript you submitted during the first round was your official transcript and it included final grades from all completed terms (trimester(s) or semester), you can just mail it in the same envelope with your financial information. You should still identify a counselor or person to upload the transcript and have them choose one of the options on the submission form that indicates that they will not upload a document. If the transcript did not include mid-year grades or was not official, your counselor or school record keeper should upload a new document.

My 11th grade classes are still in progress. What should I do?

Your official transcript should include all final grades from 9th and 10th grades and all mid-year grades (i.e. final grades from completed terms (trimester or semester)) in 11th grade, as well as any outstanding coursework.

How many recommendations can I submit?

We no longer require students to submit a recommendation. However, if you choose to, please identify ONE teacher who has taught you in an academic subject to submit a recommendation electronically. We strongly recommend choosing a teacher from a humanities course, such as English or history. When you submit your Round 2 Documents Request form, it will generate an email to your teacher with a link for them to upload or write their recommendation. We will only read one recommendation.

What tax information should I submit? What if my parents do not file taxes?

We would prefer students submit the 2019 tax information. However, if that is not available you can submit information from 2018 + 2019 income statements (typically W-2 or 1099 statements). If your parents cannot find their tax information, they can request a copy from the IRS or from the company they used to submit them, if applicable. All admitted students will be required to submit 2019 tax documents, if filing.

If your parents do not file taxes, please submit a signed financial statement.


Students who were invited to Round 2 received a detailed email with instructions about what financial information to submit. A follow-up was also sent on March 18 to clarify confusion about tax information. Please review that information in both emails for further instructions. If you have a special circumstance that is not addressed in the emails, please contact the program at

Please note that we reserve the right to request additional financial information as we have questions.

My newspaper adviser/journalism teacher is also an English teacher, although I haven't taken their class in an academic/core class. Can they still write a recommendation for me?

We would prefer that you submit a recommendation from a teacher who has taught you in a core academic area, but will accept a journalism teacher or adviser.

I don't write for a school newspaper, but I do write other news or opinion-style pieces for myself, a blog, or another publication. Can I submit those?

Of course! If you have written pieces in the style of a news or magazine opinion, feature, or investigative story (not a school report), we welcome you to submit those. However, please note that submitting a writing sample is entirely optional. Students who do not submit any written work beyond what was asked on the initial application will not be disadvantaged in our process.

I accidentally submitted my Round 2 Documents Request Form and noticed [insert error here]. Can I go back and change it?

Applicants should not submit their form more than once and cannot change the form after submitting it. It will cause computing errors in our system. If you noticed an error on your form, please contact the program at

Can you let me know if X document has arrived? I did not receive a notification.

Due to the small size of our staff, mandatory office closures, and the volume of incoming documents we are processing, we are not able to notify you when your documents arrive and will not respond to inquires about the status of application materials. However, we will be in touch sometime after April with an update, especially if we need more information. Thank you in advance for your patience.

How will the admissions process change given the later deadline for Round 2?

As of now, we are still committed to notifying all students of final decisions by mid-May. However, it is unclear at this time how far the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt throughout the education sphere. We will continue to monitor the situation and send more information to students about interviews as the situation develops.




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.


Questions about PSJP

When are the program dates for 2020?

PSJP will not run a residential program for the summer of 2020. Instead, we will begin virtual programming in late June, which will run through August 10. More information will be provided to students who are accepted for the program and posted online as it is finalized.

Do I have to participate for the entire time?

PSJP has always required students to complete weekly assignments throughout the summer. That portion will not change and will still be expected. However, we understand that, given the change in dates, some students may not be available for online programming for each session in the early months of the summer. If you are invited to the program and have a conflict, please contact ASAP.

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?

As we will not host on-campus programming this summer, we will not expect students to travel to NJ. We will not cover or provide any transportation for the summer of 2020.

Where will I sleep during the program?

Typically, students sleep in dormitories on Princeton's campus for the duration of the program. However, we will not offer or provide any housing for participants for the summer of 2020.

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.

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.

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.