Princeton sets applications record for sixth year in a row

For the sixth consecutive year, Princeton University has set a record for students applying for admission, with 26,166 applications received for the class of 2014. The number of applicants for next year's freshman class represents a 19 percent increase over last year's record of 21,963 completed applications for the class of 2013.

Applications to Princeton have increased by 91 percent over the past six years. Last year's applicant pool was about 3 percent larger than for the class of 2012, and applicants for that class were up 13 percent over the applicants for the class of 2011.

"We are delighted with this increase, especially with the economic challenges families are facing," Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said. "It appears our financial aid message of affordability is reaching more students than in the past."

Seventy-four percent of applicants indicated to the Office of Admission their intent to apply for financial aid, similar to the 75 percent of applicants who indicated an intent to apply for aid last year.

Princeton's financial aid budget is projected to increase to $113 million next year, up from $103 million for the current year, to accommodate increasing numbers of students on financial aid, as well as increases in scholarship amounts to meet the growing needs of individual families. The University's financial aid program is need-based and seeks to meet the full need of students qualifying for aid.

The University continues its need-blind admissions process for both domestic and international students, providing aid through grants that do not have to be repaid, instead of loans. 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 an opportunity to graduate debt free.

In addition to financial aid, Rapelye said continued recruiting efforts and the ease of the application process likely contributed to the rise in applications.

"We expanded our outreach efforts, doing more group travel with other institutions, and more communication with juniors in high school than previous years," Rapelye said. "Even though we were not immune to operating budget cuts, we concentrated our efforts on recruitment initiatives that we expected would be most effective."

The University has seen growth in applications from the West, the South and overseas, Rapelye said.

In keeping with a planned gradual expansion of the size of the undergraduate student body, the University intends to enroll 1,300 freshmen in the fall. The first class of 1,300 -- the highest number of freshman to enroll in Princeton's history -- entered last year in the class of 2013 as the University moves toward reaching its "steady state" of eventually enrolling 5,200 students by the 2012-13 academic year. The 11 percent expansion of the class was begun in 2005.

Of those applying for the class of 2014, the number of applicants is evenly balanced between male and female students. Almost all prospective students -- 97.8 percent -- applied online using the Common Application with the Princeton supplement, except for a small number of applicants who chose to submit the paper version of the Common Application with the supplement.

Applicants for the first time this year could participate in Score Choice, a program offered by the College Board that provides students with the option of sending to colleges and universities their three best SAT scores (rather than a history of all test scores). Also for the first time this year, the students were required to submit just two SAT subject tests, while past applicants submitted three.

The Office of Admission made the change because of the SAT writing section introduced by the College Board in 2005 that now helps admission officers evaluate students, in addition to research indicating that many students take only two subject tests, Rapelye said.

"Because of our commitment to reaching out to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds -- those who may not have had the college counseling to start taking the tests early in high school -- and because we have three parts of the SAT for our evaluations, we changed our requirement this year," she said.

Applicants will be notified of decisions in late March.