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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Princeton sets applications record for fifth year in a row

Princeton University for the fifth consecutive year has set a record for students applying for admission, receiving 21,869 applications for the class of 2013. Over the past six years, the University has experienced a 60 percent increase in applications.

The number of applicants for the class of 2013 represents a 2 percent increase over last year's record of 21,370 completed applications for the class of 2012, which had an applicant pool 6 percent larger than for the class of 2011. Applicants for that class were up 8 percent over the applicants for the class of 2010, whose applicant numbers represented a 6 percent increase over those for freshmen for the 2009 class.

The record-setting interest from student applicants comes as the University plans to enroll its highest number of freshmen in history -- 1,300 students -- in keeping with a planned gradual expansion of the size of the undergraduate class that culminates with the freshmen who will enroll in the fall.

The increase in applicants also accompanies greater numbers of students applying for financial aid. The Office of Admission has seen an increase from 70 percent of students applying for financial aid last year to 75 percent of applicants for the class of 2013 applying for aid.

"It has been heartening to watch the pool continue to grow, even in this sobering economy," Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said. "We are especially pleased the number of students applying for financial aid has increased, because it shows that our message about Princeton's generous financial aid policy was heard by the students who applied."

The University in 2001 became the first institution to offer a comprehensive no-loan financial aid program to all students on financial aid, giving students grants that do not have to be repaid so that students have an opportunity to graduate debt free.

Next year's scholarship budget is projected to increase from this year's $92 million to $104 million, or 13 percent. This will accommodate more students on financial aid, in addition to an expected increase in scholarship amounts to meet the needs of individual families during difficult economic times.

In addition to Princeton's financial aid initiatives, Rapelye said another factor contributing to the increase in applicants is a continuing increase in recruiting efforts, including adding more sites to a joint national tour with admissions staff from Harvard and the University of Virginia. The three schools toured for the second year in a row with a message of accessibility after all three decided two years ago to end their early admission option and move to a single application deadline.

"We have increased our efforts to recruit students from every background, expanding the joint travel with Harvard and UVa in the fall to reach students from low-income backgrounds, in addition to participating in other joint recruiting initiatives in this country and abroad," Rapelye said.

Of those applying to Princeton, the number of applicants is evenly balanced between male and female students. Most applicants continue to apply online, with 96 percent using the option this year, up from the 95 percent who applied online last year.

Applicants will be notified of decisions in late March. The admitted freshman class will reach the "steady state" of 1,300 students for the first time since the University began five years ago gradually expanding the student body. Princeton began increasing the size of entering classes in the fall of 2005 to achieve an estimated 11 percent increase of undergraduate students to enroll 5,200 students by the 2012-13 academic year.

"The class expansion allows us more opportunities to recruit students from every background while providing a Princeton education to a larger number of students," Rapelye said.

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