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Nearly 35,000 students applied for admission to Harvard College’s class of 2015. This figure, which represents approximately a 15 percent increase over last year’s total, is the largest number of applications the College has received for an undergraduate class.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 attributes the increase to a growing awareness of Harvard’s financial aid program and, to a lesser extent, to the ease of filing multiple applications online.
“The message that came through our [financial aid] initiative… was that if you’re a talented student and you need financial aid you should really think about going to one of the great private universities because they are no longer for the rich,” Fitzsimmons said.
Students whose families have a household income of less than $60,000 attend the College for free. Many families with incomes of less than $180,000 are asked to contribute no more than 10 percent of their annual income.
The effect of the financial aid program has been magnified by the economic issues of the past three years, Fitzsimmons said. He said that in past times of economic turmoil families have become more concerned with the quality of their child’s education and with its cost.
According to the Harvard Gazette, the increase in the number of applications from the South, Midwest, Mountain states, the Pacific region, and abroad were particularly notable.
Fitzsimmons also said that the number of Latino and African American applicants has grown at a rate greater than the approximately 15 percent overall.
While many other universities have yet to release their application numbers, Harvard’s increase seems to follow the broader trend at highly selective universities.
The University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College both saw an increase in the number of applications of about 15 percent, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian and The Dartmouth. Stanford reported that its number of applications increased by approximately 7 percent.
Fitzsimmons said that while it was too soon to know how many students will receive acceptance letters in the spring, his office will be careful to limit the number of offers it extends and the size of its waitlist in order to avoid over-enrollment.
“We still have the same name number of beds available. That’s the non-negotiable number,” he said. “As we go through the process we’ll get a sense of what the climate is.”
Last year, 2,205 students were eventually offered admission to the College. Of that number 2,110 were initially accepted in April leading to a record low acceptance rate of 6.9 percent.
This year applicants will be notified of admissions decisions on March 30.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.
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