Princeton’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) currently serves about 300 students per week, CPS Director Dr. Calvin Chin shared in a statement to the ‘Prince.’ This number includes initial consultations, scheduled appointments and urgent support services. With the current number of CPS staff, each counselor works with about 13 students per week.
Currently, there are 32 CPS staff members. 27 staff members are available for 60-minute in-person counseling sessions via the UHS website. The current ratio of counselors to students, both undergraduate and graduate students, is roughly 322 students to one counselor. The Daily Princetonian broke down the current capacity of CPS and modeled what an expansion may look like.
At its current rate, CPS serves about 3 percent of the student population, including graduate students each week. However, 79 percent of respondents to the 2023 senior survey considered getting counseling, with only 51 percent actually having received CPS counseling at some point. Additionally, with current CPS staffing, initial 20 minute consultations may take up to 5 days or longer to schedule. CPS also does not offer its services for faculty or staff, referring them to external programs on the home page.
There is potentially more room to increase the hours of available counseling for students. This is especially important given the fact that the demand for mental health resources on Princeton’s campus has been increasing.
CPS also offers immediate urgent support services 24/7. With a rotation shift schedule, each counselor has seven on-call shifts a little over one hour long per week. Furthermore, in 2019, the three Tigerwell Outreach Counselors of the CPS team started offering virtual drop-in sessions for students as mental health “office hours.” Inclusive of the most recent offerings from the current academic year, an average of one hour of drop-in sessions was offered every single day, including summers and school holidays, over all five years.
While the actual cost of CPS expansion is extremely difficult to estimate, using the average salary for a university counselor in New Jersey, $72,378, and making the assumption that CPS staff would increase proportionately with appointments or clients, the ‘Prince’ constructed three rough models of what the staff costs of expansion might look like.
Using the current ratio of students to counselors, CPS would have to hire six additional CPS staff members to provide comparable services for 1,285 faculty members of the University. Based on the average salary, this would cost the university around $434,000 annually in salaries.
If 79 percent of students, the percentage who said they had considered seeking mental health counseling in the 2023 Senior Survey, had bimonthly appointments at CPS, the clinic would see 2,191 students per week. Increasing the number of counselors proportionately, CPS would have 197 counseling staff. Based on the same average salary, this would be over 12 million dollars in additional salaries every year.
One might also model if the counselor to student ratio were more similar to the faculty to student ration. If Princeton set its counselor to student ratio at 11:1, the faculty to student ratio in the COS department (which has the fewest faculty per student at the University), Princeton would have at least 239 counselors available for undergraduates and graduate students. Based on average university counselor salary, this would be an annual expenditure of over 17 million dollars a year.
Associate head Copy editor Naisha Sylvestre contributed reporting.
Erin Yoo is a contributing writer for the Data section of the ‘Prince.’
Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.