Princeton sets applications record for seventh year in a row

Princeton University for the seventh consecutive year has set a record for students applying for admission, receiving 27,115 applications for the class of 2015. Over the past seven years, the University's applicant pool has increased 98 percent.

The number of applicants for the class of 2015 represents a 3.3 percent increase over last year's record of 26,247 completed applications for the class of 2014, which had an applicant pool that was 19.5 percent larger than for the class of 2013.

"The depth of the applicant pool is impressive, and, as in previous years, we will have extremely difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks because of the quality of this year's applicants," Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said. "With the increase in applications, it's clear that the University's academic excellence, students' unrivaled access to world-class faculty members and our generous financial aid policy continue to have tremendous appeal to prospective students."

The number of applicants indicating their intent to apply for financial aid through the University's no-loan financial aid program remains high. Seventy-four percent of applicants indicated to the Office of Admission their intent to apply for aid.

In 2001, Princeton became the first institution to offer a comprehensive no-loan financial aid program to all students on financial aid -- replacing loans with grants that don't have to be repaid -- giving students an opportunity to graduate debt-free. The admission process is need-blind for both domestic and international students.

"The University's financial aid program is truly committed to meeting the full need of students qualifying for aid, and students from all income backgrounds are understanding our message of affordability and accessibility," Rapelye said. "As a result, our aid program is allowing us to enroll growing numbers of students from low- and middle-income backgrounds."

While the cost of tuition for the incoming class of 2015 will be determined at the end of this month, the average aid package for a current freshman in the class of 2014 is $38,350, which more than covers the cost of this year's tuition. For a current freshman whose family's income is $60,000 or less a year, the average aid grant of $48,600 covers full tuition, room and board.

In addition to financial aid initiatives, Rapelye said enhanced recruiting efforts and the ease of applying online likely contributed to the continued rise in applications.

"We have continued our outreach efforts to prospective students and schools across the country and the world," Rapelye said. Reflecting Princeton's increased recruiting initiatives in recent years, the current freshman class includes students from 49 states and 47 countries.

For the first year, almost all of the students applied online using the Common Application with the Princeton supplement, with just 1 percent of applicants choosing to submit a paper version. More guidance counselors and high school teachers also used the Internet to submit required application materials and recommendations for students than in past years.

Of those applying for the class of 2015, the number of applicants was evenly balanced between men and women.

This was the second year that students could participate in Score Choice, a program offered by the College Board that provides students the option of submitting to universities their three best SAT scores, rather than a history of all test scores. It also was the second year that students needed to submit only two SAT subject tests rather than three. The Office of Admission made the change because the SAT writing section previously introduced by the College Board helps admission officers evaluate students. The change also recognizes research indicating that many students only take two subject tests, which allows the University to accept applications from a wider pool of students.

Applicants will be notified of admission decisions at the end of March. The University intends to enroll 1,300 freshmen in fall 2011 as part of its continued gradual expansion of the student body. Princeton began increasing the size of the entering class in 2005 to achieve an estimated 11 percent increase of undergraduate students, with the goal of enrolling a "steady state" of 5,200 students by the 2012-13 academic year.