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Harvard Opens Doors Wider Accepting 5.9% of Applicants

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Harvard Campus
A student walks down steps of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- It was a little easier to get into Harvard College this year.

The school accepted 5.9 percent of applicants to its freshman class, a higher percentage than the 5.8 percent in 2013, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard said in a statement yesterday.

Students will still have to study hard to gain admittance to any of the eight schools that make up the Ivy League. Yale University received a record 30,932 applications and accepted only 6.3 percent of them, compared with 6.7 percent last year. When rounded, acceptance rates for Columbia University and Princeton University were unchanged from last year.

Even with a slim chance of admittance, students haven’t given up on trying to win seats at top-rated universities, said Jennifer Rucker, a college counselor at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago.

“The expectation of getting in has started to diminish,” Rucker said. “Students will still apply. You don’t have a chance to get in if you don’t apply.”

Columbia received 32,967 applications to Columbia College and its undergraduate engineering school and accepted 2,291, or 6.94 percent, the New York-based school said. Applications declined by about 1.7 percent from last year, when the college accepted 6.89 percent.

Princeton’s admission rate fell to a record low of 7.28 percent -- 1,939 of the 26,641 students seeking seats -- from 7.29 percent last year. Applications increased less than 1 percent from 2013.

Acceptance Day

High school students were notified yesterday about acceptance to the Ivy League colleges. They have until May 1 to decide whether to attend.

At Harvard, applications fell 2.1 percent to 34,295, as demographic shifts sparked a decline in high school graduates from the Midwest and New England.

About 60 percent of the incoming freshmen at Harvard will get financial grants, paying an average of $12,000 annually, the school said. Harvard requires no contribution from families with annual incomes below $65,000 and asks an average of 10 percent of income from most families that get financial aid.

For students not receiving need-based aid, the cost of attendance, including tuition, room, board and fees, will increase 3.9 percent to $58,607.

Still Willing

Despite the odds, tens of thousands of students are willing to take the chance on these schools, said Susan Davidson, a former assistant dean of admissions at Cooper Union in New York.

“People will always be interested in applying to these schools because of what they provide in terms of curriculum, the other people you’ll work with on campus, the networking opportunity and the aid available,” said Davidson, now a college counselor at Ramaz School in New York.

If getting into the Ivy League sounds difficult, Stanford University had an ever lower rate. The school, based near Palo Alto, California, admitted 2,138 students, or 5.07 percent, Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman, said today in an e-mail.

Stanford received 42,167 applicants, an increase of 8.6 percent from last year when it admitted 2,210 students, or just 5.7 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York at jlorin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net Cecile Daur, John Lear

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