Harvard Freshman Applications Climb 2.1% to Record 35,022

Freshman applications to Harvard University for the 2013-2014 academic year climbed 2.1 percent to a record 35,022 as generous financial aid added to the lure of the U.S.’s oldest and richest college.

The increase makes admission even more selective at Harvard College, the undergraduate division of the university, which admitted just 5.9 percent of applicants last year. Students will be notified on March 28, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said today in a statement.

Applicants requesting a fee waiver increased 37 percent, indicating more are coming from low and middle-income families, said Sarah Donahue, Harvard’s director of financial aid, in the statement. More than 60 percent of students receive financial aid, and those students pay an average of $11,500 a year to attend, according to the statement.

“Financial aid continues to be a major factor in students’ decisions to apply to Harvard,” said William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. Alumni contributions helped the college provide $172 million this year to meet the financial needs of undergraduates, he said.

Applications have risen at other selective schools, including Tufts University and the University of California, Berkeley, fueled in part by an interest from international students. At Harvard, the geographical distribution of applicants was about the same as last year, except for a decline from Canadians, the university said.

Harvard, established in 1636, had an endowment valued at more than $30 billion, as of June 2012.