Nearly 84 percent of students admitted to the Class of 2021 have chosen to matriculate at Harvard College. The last time the yield reached this level was in 1969, when 83.1 percent of the Class of 1973 chose to attend.
“Many changes at Harvard over the past decade have greatly enriched the undergraduate experience,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “In addition, Harvard’s deep commitment to financial aid has expanded access to promising students from all economic backgrounds.”
As students share their reasons for coming to Harvard, they often mention the four-fold increase in the number of small freshman seminars to 130; an augmented advising system that doubles the number of freshman advisers to more than 400 and includes 200 peer advising fellows and 60 resident proctors; expanded research opportunities with close faculty collaboration; the creation of more than 40 secondary fields (minors); many more options for study abroad; the new John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and a rich array of new possibilities in the humanities, including a concentration in Theater, Dance, and Media, as well as the opening of the new Harvard Art Museums and re-vitalized theater opportunities through the Office for The Arts and the American Repertory Theater.
“Students are also excited about the opportunities available under the ‘One Harvard’ concept,” said Fitzsimmons. “Many extraordinary resources are available to undergraduates across the entire University—at Harvard’s graduate schools and the affiliated research institutions and hospitals.”
“The students who will be enrolling here in August are more economically diverse than those in last year’s freshman class,” said Sarah D. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid, sharing that two-thirds of the entering class applied for financial aid; nearly 24 percent qualified for the low-income portion of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative; more than 19 percent requested application fee waivers; 17 percent are eligible for Pell Grants; and 15 percent are first-generation college students.
“One in five Harvard families has an annual income less than $65,000 and pays nothing toward the cost of the student’s education. Families with incomes up to $150,000 with typical assets pay 10 percent or less of their annual incomes,” said Donahue. “Many families with higher incomes also qualify for assistance depending on individual circumstances. More than half of Harvard students receive need-based financial aid, and their families pay an average of only $12,000. And students are never required to take out loans to cover the cost of their education.”
Harvard is committed to ensuring that all students take full advantage of their college experience. In addition to receiving grant aid to cover the basic cost of attendance, Harvard provides more than $6 million in additional funding annually to aided students, supporting everything from new winter coats to music lessons to studying abroad to public service internships to research experiences in a lab.
“Harvard’s neediest students also receive a $2,000 ‘start up’ grant to help ease their transition to college and allow them to explore the vast opportunities available to Harvard students during the school year and summer,” said Fitzsimmons. “This made an enormous difference this past year to students who received the grant, and we heard many positive things about the ‘start up’ grants from the students who will join us in the Class of 2021.”
“Nearly 50 percent of the matriculants are women: 49.6 percent compared to 47.8 percent last year,” said Marlyn E. McGrath, director of admissions. “In addition, a record 13.2 percent are African Americans.”
Intended academic concentrations remained similar to last year’s with an increase in social scientists, a decrease in those undecided, and minor fluctuations in the rest. Geographical origins of the Class of 2021 are also similar to last year’s Class of 2020.
“We are enormously grateful to all the faculty members, students, and alumni who reached out to prospective members of the Class of 2021 throughout the year and during ‘Visitas,’ our visiting program in April,” said McGrath. “They make the critical difference in our ability to enroll the nation’s and the world’s most outstanding students each year.”
Recruiting for next year’s Class of 2022 began in February with mail and email outreach. Staff will visit 70 locations in the United States this month and another 80 during the fall in addition to some international travel. Nearly 55,000 students and family members will attend these presentations and another 47,000 will visit Harvard during the course of the year.