Seven hundred and seventy-two students have been admitted to the Harvard College Class of 2016 through the Early Action program, which was reinstated this year after a four-year absence.

“Their academic, extracurricular, and personal promise are remarkable by any standard, and it will be exciting to follow their progress over the next four years and beyond,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid.

The Admissions Committee admitted fewer students than in the most recent years of Early Action, when between 813 and 902 were admitted from applicant pools that ranged from 3,869 to 4,214, slightly fewer than this year’s 4,231.

“Given increases in our overall applicant numbers over the past few years to nearly 35,000 last year, the Admissions Committee took great care to admit only those we were certain would be admitted in Regular Action,” said Fitzsimmons.

The admitted group is more diverse ethnically than any previous early cohort and is comparable with the current freshman class.  Although it is difficult to make precise comparisons to previous years because of changes in federal requirements concerning collecting and reporting race and ethnicity information, 9.6 percent of admitted students this year are African-American, compared with 7.2 percent the last time Harvard had Early Action. There was a similar increase for Latinos (9.9 percent vs. 7.9 percent) and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians (1.7 percent vs. 1 percent), and a slight decrease for Asian Americans (22 percent vs. 23 percent). The current freshman class is 19 percent Asian American, 10 percent African-American, 10.2 percent Latino, and 1.7 percent Native American and Native Hawaiian.

It is still too early to determine the socioeconomic composition of the admitted group because many students have not yet submitted financial information.

“Preliminary information such as requests for application-fee waivers indicates that there could well be more economic diversity than in previous early cohorts,” said Sarah C. Donahue, director of financial aid.  “We stand ready to help families that require financial assistance, including those that might be interested in a variety of financing options.”

Admitted financial aid applicants will be informed of their awards as soon as they complete their forms.  All applicants to Harvard, Early or Regular (Jan. 1 application deadline for March 29 notification) have access to Harvard’s new Net-Price Calculator (NPC), a simple, one-page application available on the NPC website that provides an estimate of a family’s eligibility under Harvard’s generous need-based financial aid program.

Families with annual incomes of $65,000 or less and normal assets are no longer required to contribute to their children’s educational expenses.  Those with incomes from $65,000 to $150,000 pay on a sliding scale up to 10 percent of annual income, and there is also need-based aid available to families with incomes greater than $150,000.  Home equity and retirement funds are not considered in the calculations, and students are no longer required to take out loans.  More than 60 percent of Harvard students receive need-based financial aid and receive grants averaging more than $40,000.

Applicants were notified of the Admissions Committee’s decisions on Dec. 15.  In addition to the 772 admitted students, 2,838 were deferred and will be considered in the Regular Action process, 546 were denied, 25 withdrew, and 50 were incomplete.  Early Action at Harvard is nonbinding for admitted students, who are free to apply to other institutions and need only reply to Harvard by May 1, the National Common Notification Date.

“Admitted students will hear a great deal from us over the months ahead,” said Marlyn McGrath, director of admissions.  Faculty, staff, undergraduate recruiters, and alumni/ae will use phone calls, emails, and regular mailings to reach admitted students with information about Harvard.  Many Harvard clubs will host local parties during the winter holidays and in April.  All admitted students will be invited to Cambridge on April 21-23 for the Visiting Program.

“We want our admitted students to be fully informed about Harvard, as they make their decisions about which of the many fine colleges to which they have been admitted provides the best match for them at this important time in their lives,” she added.

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