Princeton in the Community

Princeton University—an economic engine for central New Jersey as one of the largest private employers, a major purchaser of goods and services, and the largest taxpayer in the Municipality of Princeton—plays a significant role in the educational, cultural and economic life of the region.

The University values its longstanding, mutually beneficial relationships with nearby communities. Together the University and its neighbors continue a vibrant tradition of cooperation through on-campus learning opportunities, joint transportation and safety programs, community service projects, and initiatives in entrepreneurship, the arts and other areas.

By the Numbers

  • Total operating budget expenditures: $2.73 billion
  • Total payroll for employees who reside in New Jersey: $904.7 million
  • New Jersey state income taxes paid by University employees: $42.7 million
  • Construction spending and major maintenance: approximately $854 million for FY23 and nearly $3.8 billion over the past decade.

Financial Contributions

Property Tax Payments. The University owns approximately 2,500 acres in several central New Jersey municipalities, with significant holdings in Princeton, West Windsor Township, Plainsboro Township and South Brunswick Township. Most of the academic properties are located in Princeton, which serves as host to the University’s central campus (600 acres). The chart below includes property and sewer taxes paid in FY 2022-23.

Total Local Taxes Paid: Approximately $13.3 Million

Entity % Amount paid
Municipality of Princeton 72% $9.6 million
Other 28% $3.7 million

The University is the largest taxpayer in the Municipality of Princeton.

Voluntary Cash Contributions. In addition to annual tax payments made to the local municipalities, Princeton University makes an annual unrestricted nontax voluntary contribution to Princeton, the Princeton Public Schools and Mercer County. In calendar year 2023, the voluntary unrestricted nontax contribution to Princeton is $5 million, $2.250 million to Princeton Public Schools, and $1.335 million to Mercer County.

Payments for Infrastructure and Publicly Used Facilities. The University annually spends hundreds of thousands of dollars for crosswalk and road improvements for the benefit of the public and the maintenance of University-owned but publicly used facilities such as the McCarter Theatre Center, an internationally renowned, Tony Award-winning regional arts facility; the Princeton Garden Theatre, the town’s only movie theater; and the upkeep of the Princeton train station, home to the “Dinky” shuttle train that links the town to major rail-transit routes.

Affordable Housing Contributions. The University is proud to partner with Princeton to provide significant funding for the construction and renovation of affordable housing in the community. The University’s contributions to affordable housing include the development of 65 units of affordable housing that are available to the public on Leigh Avenue, on Bayard Lane and at Merwick Stanworth. 

Support and Special Gifts. The University has contributed more than $5 million in special gifts to municipalities and community organizations over the past decade.

Community Services

Under the auspices of Community and Regional Affairs, the Community Auditing Program (CAP) enables members of the community to register to audit, or sit in on, lecture classes at the University for $200 per class. On average, 125 undergraduate classes are available each semester for auditing. Approximately 600 area residents participate in the CAP program each semester. No credit or certification is given for CAP classes. However, certified teachers currently working in New Jersey may obtain written certification for classes they have audited.

Within the Program in Continuing Education, administered by the Office of Community and Regional Affairs, individuals become officially registered students, pay full tuition for each course they take, and receive a transcript and credit that may be used toward a degree at another institution of higher learning. Teachers who are certified to teach in New Jersey may participate in this program at a greatly reduced fee.

Open Facilities

  • The Lewis Center for the Arts presents more than 140 art exhibits, theatrical productions, dance performances, and poetry and fiction readings, film screenings, concerts, and lectures each year, open to the public and most of them free, at venues throughout the campus.
  • Princeton athletic events are open to the public, many at no charge, with season tickets available for basketball, football and ice hockey. Athletic fields and other recreational facilities are often available to residents of the community, generally at no charge.
  • Lake Carnegie, which is owned by the University and serves as its intercollegiate rowing facility, is a popular community recreation area, providing a site for rowing, fishing, canoeing and ice skating.
  • The Princeton University Chapel, which seats nearly 2,000 people, offers religious services, free musical performances and other special events.
  • Firestone Library offers access privileges (which do not include borrowing) to the public. The public is welcome, without charge, to visit the Cotsen Children’s Library, at the main entrance to the library. Also open to the public is the exhibition gallery on the first floor. Researchers are welcome to use collections from Princeton University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections onsite at Firestone Library, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, and Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology after registering with a photo identification. For more information, please visit library.princeton.edu.
  • Art@Bainbridge and Art on Hulfish are "in-town" gallery and activity spaces operated by the Princeton University Art Museum. Exhibitions at both locations are free and open to the public.
  • The Peyton Hall 12-inch telescope offers viewing of the night sky monthly, depending on conditions.
  • The McCarter Theatre Center—a nonprofit organization that is the home of the Matthews Theatre and the Berlind Theatre—offers drama, music, dance, film and other events ranging from acrobatics to mime. It also hosts the major productions of the programs in theater and dance and the annual show presented by student members of the Triangle Club.
  • Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall hosts musical, dramatic and other performances, most of them open to the public.
  • Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall hosts campus musical groups throughout the year, which are sponsored by the Department of Music.
  • Theatre Intime, a student-run facility, schedules dramatic productions, dance performances and comedy shows throughout the academic year at Hamilton-Murray Theater. This theater is used in the summer by Princeton Summer Theater for highly acclaimed productions, as well as special shows for children.