Campus & Community

FAS admissions yield is close to 80 percent

4 min read

Bolstered by a financial aid program that has been expanded twice in the past two years, the yield on students admitted to the College remains at high levels not seen since the early 1970s. The high yield means that only a small number will be admitted from the waiting list over the next few weeks, and the final yield could exceed last year’s 78.9 percent.

Yield, the percentage of admitted students who decide to accept an offer of admission, is considered a measure of a school’s competitiveness. Harvard’s yield remains, by a substantial margin, the highest of the nation’s selective colleges.

Perhaps due in part to a paper distributed by Harvard in December advocating the value of taking time off, the number of students electing to defer enrollment until next year rose substantially to 43 (from 25 last year). Such students are counted as “not coming,” slightly lowering the official yield, but past experience suggests that virtually all will matriculate at Harvard.

A record 19,009 students applied for admission to the Class of 2005. Applications for admission to Harvard have risen 10 times in the past 11 years. Last year 18,693 applied for the 1,650 places in the entering class. The percentage of students admitted to this year’s class was 10.7 percent, the lowest in Harvard’s history.

“We are delighted that so many of this generation’s most extraordinary students have chosen to come here,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “All of us involved in the admissions process – faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and undergraduates – enjoyed meeting the Class of 2005 during the course of the past year. They are wonderfully accomplished in so many ways, but most of all, their outstanding personal qualities will enable them to make important contributions to the education of their fellow classmates.”

Harvard’s financial aid budget for undergraduates next year will be nearly $100 million, with more than $63 million in the form of scholarship assistance, all based on need. Nearly 70 percent of Harvard undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The average grant will be more than $20,000.

“Harvard’s financial aid program ensures that all students of talent will have access to a Harvard education,” said Sally Clark Donahue, Director of Financial Aid. Enhancements made in the past two years, the most recent in February, have reduced the self-help package – the amount students are expected to contribute – by $4,000 per year, from $7,150 to $3,150. “Students can now choose to meet this obligation by work or loans, or a combination of the two. Admitted students we talked to over the past month greatly appreciate the freedom and flexibility provided by the new program. They can take better advantage of academic and extracurricular opportunities and can look forward to graduate and career plans with much less or even no burden from student loans,” said Donahue.

More than 900 admitted students visited Harvard April 21-23 for a program that introduced them to life at Harvard. Alumnae and alumni hosted local receptions throughout the United States and abroad. In addition, current undergraduates, admission staff, and faculty members called and wrote to admitted students informing them of opportunities available to them here. “We are enormously grateful to everyone who helped recruit the Class of 2005,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Admissions. “They put a human face on Harvard and made a real difference in encouraging students to join us here in Cambridge.”

The recruiting process for next year’s Class of 2006 has already begun. Sixty thousand letters have been sent to high school students and 53 cities are being visited this month in conjunction with three other colleges. In each city, there is an evening meeting for students and parents and an early morning meeting with local guidance counselors. Another 57 cities will be visited using the same format in September and early October. Individual admissions officers will also visit hundreds of other locales in the fall in an effort to ensure that the world’s best students continue to consider Harvard among their college choices.