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40,246 Apply to the Class of 2024 As College Announces New Financial Aid Initiative

The Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is located in Radcliffe Yard.
The Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is located in Radcliffe Yard. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Benjamin L. Fu and Dohyun Kim, Crimson Staff Writers

A total of 40,246 students applied to Harvard College’s Class of 2024, marking the lowest number of applications in three years.

The figure signifies a drop by more than 3,000 applications from the previous admissions cycle, when a record-high 43,330 students applied to the Class of 2023. Still, the number of applications for the Class of 2024 marks only the third time in the College’s history that applications have exceeded 40,000, representing a slight bump from the 39,494 applications to the College’s Class of 2021.

“We continue to be excited by the extraordinary students from across the nation and around the world who apply to Harvard College,” Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in a press release Wednesday.

Female applicants slightly outnumbered their male counterparts, comprising 50.2 percent of the applicant pool. The share of applicants interested in studying Computer Science increased slightly, as did the number of students who indicated an interest in the physical sciences. Biological and social sciences remained the two most popular prospective fields of study for applicants.

Harvard’s announcement of the application numbers coincided with the unveiling of a new financial aid initiative that will eliminate the summer work expectation for incoming students receiving aid from the College.

In the press release, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay said the initiative’s goal is to create more opportunities for incoming classes in the summer before their freshman year.

“This initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure that students can engage fully, explore bravely, make authentic choices, and realize their full potential as members of the Harvard community,” Gay said in the press release.

Phillips Brooks House Association executive director Maria J. Dominguez Gray expressed gratitude toward the source of the initiative’s funding, and also discussed the initiative’s aim of affording students more flexibility to engage in public service.

“We were fortunate to receive funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative three years ago to forgive summer earnings for many students on financial aid, but we soon found demand exceeded our existing funding,” Gray said in the press release. “This aid expands options for students who may work in the Summer Urban Program in Boston or Cambridge, area homeless shelters, or as Mindich Service Fellows.”

Since the launch of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative in 2005, Harvard has continued to enlarge its financial aid program. The budget for undergraduate financial aid in 2019 totaled more than $200 million, marking a 148 percent increase since the Financial Aid Initiative began.

The admissions announcements come as Harvard continues to battle a lawsuit alleging its admissions policies discriminate against Asian American applicants, who made up roughly a quarter of this year’s pool. Plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions appealed Judge Allison D. Burroughs’s October 2019 decision in the University’s favor exactly two weeks ago.

The College already admitted 895 students to the Class of 2024 via its Early Action program in December 2019, an increase in early admits from last year. Regular Decision applicants will receive their decisions on March 26.

—Staff writer Benjamin L. Fu can be reached at benjamin.fu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenFu_2.

—Staff writer Dohyun Kim can be reached at dohyun.kim@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @DxhyunKim.

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