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“The experiences teach you one thing: “You don’t belong.” The parents of one of David Benglian’s Penn classmates bought their son a Society Hill townhouse to live in during the school year.“They paid ,000 for the house in our freshman year in 1966, then sold it for ,000 in 1970 at graduation,” said Benglian, 69, now living in Wynnewood.

“Our alums tell our first-generation students the fish-out-of-water feeling doesn’t end after they graduate Penn,” said Valerie De Cruz, who oversees Penn’s First Generation, Low Income Program, a student organization that works to create a sense of belonging within the university.

“The predominant culture at places like Penn and Georgetown [University] comes from the affluence of people who can afford ,000 a year [in total costs],” said Charles Deacon, dean of undergraduate admissions at Georgetown.

(As it happens, these days, Penn’s ,000 annual tuition is more than twice Penn State University’s ,000 price tag.) “The preppie kids called themselves ‘full-freight students,’ meaning their parents paid full fees, distinguishing from scholarship kids like me getting a ‘free ride,’ ” said Loughin, now a married father of three living in Bala Cynwyd and working for a financial software company in Horsham.

Not even a year later, that thought has become a reality.

After reading the first story in a series by the Inquirer and Daily News earlier this month that showed how first-generation Penn students feel both uneasy among their privileged peers, and distanced from their families as they begin their college careers, several alumni wrote to say the article resonated with them.


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