Eighty percent of students admitted to the Class of 2010 will enter Harvard in September, a slight increase over last year’s 78 percent. Led by an 85.3 percent yield for admitted students eligible for the newly enhanced Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) for low- and middle-income families, the Class of 2010 will be the most economically diverse in Harvard’s history.
“Yield” is considered a measure of a college’s competitiveness. Harvard’s yield remains, by a substantial margin, the highest of the nation’s selective colleges – particularly striking because students admitted under Harvard’s Early Action program are free to enroll at other colleges.
The Class of 2010 was selected from an applicant pool of 22,754, just behind last year’s record 22,796. For the third time in Harvard’s history, there will be more women than men in the entering class. At this time, women outnumber men – 883 to 797 – and they comprise 53 percent of the class.
“The Class of 2010 breaks new ground in Harvard’s quest to enroll the nation’s and the world’s best students,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “The excellence of their academic, extracurricular, and personal achievements is remarkable by any standard.”
Expanding financial aid for low- and middle-income families
Reinforcing its commitment to opportunity and excellence across the economic spectrum, Harvard announced on March 30 a significant expansion of its 2004 Financial Aid Initiative for low- and middle-income families. Parents with incomes of less than $60,000 will no longer be expected to contribute to the cost of their children attending Harvard. In addition, Harvard will reduce the contributions of families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000.
The new income thresholds build on the program announced two years ago, which provided that families with incomes below $40,000 would not be expected to contribute to the cost of education, with a reduced contribution for families with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000. The number of students enrolled at Harvard from these income brackets increased by 24 percent for the class entering this past fall – the first full year of the program. Under the enhanced program, it is expected that nearly 25 percent of Harvard freshmen will be included.
“There is no more important mission for Harvard and higher education than promoting equality of opportunity for all,” said President Lawrence H. Summers. “We are fortunate to have significant resources, and there is no better way to use them than to support families seeking to provide the best possible opportunities for their children. These increases in financial aid build on and extend our emphasis on recruiting students from low-income backgrounds, and send a clear signal to middle-class families who have all too often felt that Harvard and other leading universities are out of reach.”
Harvard also revised its policy on outside awards won by incoming students, ranging from scholarships provided by local community groups to programs such as the National Merit and Gates Millennium scholarships. Students now are able to apply these awards to eliminate their summer savings obligations. Previously, outside awards could be used to offset the $3,650 self-help expectation, but not the summer savings contribution, which ranges from $1,500 to $2,400.
Overall financial aid
“We are very pleased to offer such exceptional financial support to our undergraduates,” said William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which oversees Harvard College. “Even before these enhancements, the financial aid budget for next year was projected at $90 million, a 6.2 percent increase over last year, and a 65 percent increase over the past six years. This new initiative will add an additional $2.4 million annually. Although many students and families might find this hard to believe, Harvard is actually more affordable for many students than public colleges or universities.”
Two-thirds of Harvard students receive financial aid, with 50 percent of the student body receiving need-based institutional grant aid. The average grant award for next year is expected to be more than $30,000, or 65 percent of the total cost of attendance. In the past decade, Harvard has reduced the median four-year debt for graduating seniors from more than $16,000 to $6,400 – less than one-third of the national average of $20,000.
Harvard’s April Visiting Program for admitted students once again provided a warm welcome to newly admitted students. Nearly 90 percent of the 1,100-plus who attended have decided to enroll.
Members of the faculty along with administrators conducted panel discussions and fielded many questions from admitted students in person, on the telephone, and via e-mail. Alumni/ae hosted numerous “admit parties” and telephoned admitted students in their local areas. Undergraduates – through the Undergraduate Admissions Council, the Undergraduate Minority Recruiting Program, and the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative – telephoned and e-mailed all admitted students and hosted students in Cambridge. Admissions staff, particularly Erin Fehn, director of the April Visiting Program for admitted students, and Talhia Tuck and David Evans, co-directors of the Undergraduate Admissions Council, ensured that admitted students had the opportunity to experience life at Harvard firsthand.
Harvard’s Financial Aid Office was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday during the month of April to respond to inquiries from parents and students. “The financial aid staff fielded more than 2,500 calls from newly admitted students in April, and financial aid officers considered appeals from over 300 families,” said Sally Clark Donahue, director of financial aid. “We are delighted to be able to help so many students and families understand how our financial aid program can put Harvard within reach of all admitted students, including those from middle-income families.”
This year at Harvard College there were 1,356 students on scholarship whose annual family income exceeds $100,000, and 447 students with family incomes in excess of $150,000. Over 3,200 students from all classes received need-based scholarship assistance.
The Class of 2010 is similar to last year’s class in geographic background and intended fields of concentration. Prospective social science and humanities concentrators each comprise 27 percent of the class, while 21 percent listed biological sciences. Eight percent are interested in physical sciences, similar to the number considering engineering or computer science, while almost 7 percent lean toward math, and 1 percent are undecided.
Asian-American students will comprise 19.2 percent of the Class of 2010, compared with 18.5 percent last year. African-American students will comprise 9.3 percent of the class (9.3 percent last year), Latino students 8.8 percent (7.3 percent last year) and Native Americans 1.2 percent (0.9 percent last year).
“The recruiting program for the Class of 2011 is well under way,” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions. More than 70,000 letters will be sent to high school students, and Harvard admissions officers will visit 60 cities this month in conjunction with three other colleges and travel to additional locales on their own. Thousands of prospective students and their families have already visited Cambridge over the past few months, attending group information sessions and tours. “We have also communicated with thousands of prospective students through electronic media of various kinds. Our outreach efforts are more multifaceted than ever before and recruitment ‘season’ truly never ceases.”
The high yield on admitted students means that few, if any, students can be admitted from the waiting list this year. The final results will be determined later this week. In the meantime, the Committee on Transfer Admission is conducting its deliberations and in mid-May will notify candidates of their admission for next year.