Princeton makes offers to 8.39 percent of applicants in record admission cycle

Princeton University has offered admission to 2,282 students, or 8.39 percent of the record 27,189 applicants for the class of 2015 in what may be the most selective admission process in the University's history. This compares with Princeton's final admission rates of 8.8 percent for the class of 2014 and 10.1 percent for the class of 2013.

The applicant pool has increased 98.5 percent over the past seven years, with Princeton's strong academic programs and financial aid policies continuing to appeal to prospective students from around the United States and the world.

"Our competitive acceptance rate continues a trend Princeton has been experiencing over the last several years," Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said. "We have always focused on the quality of our pool, more than its size, yet this year we were impressed by both the size and quality of the applicant pool. The task of choosing our incoming class continues to be difficult, and the intellectual, personal and civic accomplishments we observed in these candidates were outstanding."

The Office of Admission mailed letters to applicants at noon March 30, and students also will be informed of their admission decision through an online notification system beginning at 5 p.m. March 30.

The University expects that 60 percent of the freshman class of 2015 will receive need-based financial aid. The average aid package is projected to be $38,000, which more than covers the cost of next year's tuition. For an incoming freshman whose family income is $60,000 or less a year, the projected aid package is $49,650.

"Our admission decisions reflect the University's commitment to guarantee an exceptional educational opportunity to any deserving student, no matter what his or her financial circumstances may be," Rapelye said. "Despite the slow economic recovery throughout the world, Princeton is able to provide students the ability to graduate debt-free."

Princeton in 2001 became the first institution to offer a comprehensive no-loan financial aid program to all students on aid. Rather than loans, the program gives aid in the form of grants that do not have to repaid. The University's admission process is need-blind for all students, meaning they are not at a disadvantage if they apply for financial aid.

In addition to its commitment to financial aid for low-, middle- and upper-middle-income students, Princeton has limited tuition increases in recognition of the challenging economic environment that continues to affect students and their families. University trustees in January approved a 1 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees for the upcoming 2011-12 academic year -- the lowest fee package increase in 45 years.

Beyond the 2,282 students offered admission to the class of 2015, an additional 1,248 were offered positions on the wait list, and approximately half of those students are expected to choose to stay on the wait list, as in past years. Students who ultimately are offered a position in the class in May or June will receive the same financial aid considerations as students offered admission this week.

Princeton's previous record-low 8.8 percent admission rate for the class of 2014 includes those students who were admitted from the wait list.

As part of its continued gradual expansion of the student body, the University intends to enroll 1,300 freshmen in fall 2011. An 11 percent overall increase in the number of undergraduates that began in fall 2005 will result in a student body of 5,200 by the 2012-13 academic year.

This year's applicants come from 8,658 high schools in 138 countries, including the United States. Among the applicants, 10,099 had a cumulative 4.0 grade point average, and 14,042 had a combined score of 2100 or higher on the three sections of the SAT. Alumni volunteers had personal contact with 99.7 percent of applicants.

"The Admission Office has continued its efforts to reach out to a diverse group of prospective students who have distinguished themselves as scholars, as well as humanitarians, artists, athletes and leaders," Rapelye said. "We are aware of the responsibility we have to review each application carefully and individually, and given the extraordinary applicant pool, we knew we could not include all of the qualified candidates in the class."

Students receiving offers of admission for the class of 2015 come from 49 states and Washington, D.C., with the largest number of students admitted from California, followed by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. International students make up 10.3 percent of the admitted students, and they are citizens of 66 countries, including Belgium, Bolivia, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the Ukraine.

Of the admitted students, 50.7 percent are men and 49.3 percent are women. Admitted students self-identified among the following racial and ethnic groups: 9.1 percent as African American; 22 percent as Asian American; 9.8 percent as Hispanic or Latino; less than 1 percent as Native American; and 5 percent as belonging to two or more races.

Twenty-three percent of the admitted students stated plans to pursue a bachelor of science in engineering, and 42 percent of those students are women.

For the third year in a row, 20 students of the new class are expected to defer their enrollment as part of Princeton's Bridge Year Program. The University-sponsored program allows incoming freshmen to spend a tuition-free year doing international service work. Applications for the Bridge Year Program will be due in May from students who accept the University's offer of admission.

The freshman class of 2015 was admitted through a single-deadline admission program. The University announced in February that it will reinstate an early admission program starting with students applying for the class of 2016. The single-choice early action program will allow students to apply early only to Princeton by Nov. 1, but will not require them to decide whether to accept Princeton's offer until the end of the regular admission process on the candidate's reply date of May 1.

By reinstating an early action program, the University hopes to provide an opportunity to apply early for students who know that Princeton is their first choice, while at the same time sustaining the progress made in recent years in diversifying the applicant pool and admitting the strongest possible class.