For the first time in Harvard’s history, more than 30,000 students applied to the College; 2,110 were accepted into the Class of 2014. More than 60 percent of the admitted students, benefiting from a record $158 million in financial aid, will receive need-based scholarships — a demonstration of Harvard’s commitment to providing access to a Harvard education to promising students from across the globe.

“When alumni and friends give immediate-use funds in support of financial aid at Harvard, they are providing what are, in many ways, the most valuable gifts that we receive,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard College. “This same generosity made it possible for me to attend Harvard, and I see the gratitude that I felt in the extraordinary students whom we admit each year and support through financial aid.”

While large current-use gifts intended specifically for financial aid were previously relatively rare, alumni now recognize and focus on aid as a primary goal and priority. Longtime financial aid benefactors Beatrice Liu ’81, M.B.A. ’87, and Philip Lovett ’83, M.B.A. ’87, led the way, providing early support for this vital student resource, and more donors are following suit.

Despite increasing costs and growing student need in the current economic climate, Harvard is determined to continue providing access for talented students. Offering this level of support would not be possible without the many contributions from alumni, including significant immediate-use gifts toward financial aid from Michael Kerr ’81, M.B.A. ’85, Sumner Redstone ’44, LL.B. ’47, and Joseph O’Donnell ’67, M.B.A. ’71. All of these gifts help increase access to Harvard for students across the income spectrum.

“Such gifts,” said Fitzsimmons, “demonstrate the unwavering and generous dedication of alumni in sharing Harvard with future generations of students. It’s inspiring to see, and we are enormously grateful for their continued support.”

In addition to providing direct support to students, current-use gifts are also used to enrich the student experience, channeling funding to unique courses, new faculty initiatives, and undergraduate research opportunities.

The immediate-use funds contributed to Harvard’s financial aid program help individual students through the Harvard College Fund Scholars Program. As part of this program, donors can connect directly to the students who benefit immediately from their generosity.

“Giving exceptional students the opportunity to access all that Harvard has to offer is one of my primary responsibilities as an alumnus,” said O’Donnell. “By making a current-use contribution in support of the financial aid program, I know that I can start helping students right away.”