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Harvard’s admission rate drops to 5.8 percent

The odds of getting into an Ivy League school — always long — have gotten longer still.

On Thursday evening, as 35,023 applicants waited anxiously, Harvard sent out letters and e-mails offering 2,029 of them coveted spots in the class of 2017, college officials said. That's 5.8 percent of the applicant pool, the lowest acceptance rate in the college's history, following previous years of declines.

Last year, 5.9 percent of applicants were admitted to Harvard. Admission rates also hit record lows this year at Yale (6.72 percent); Columbia (6.89 percent); and Princeton (7.29).

Declining admission rates are the byproduct of soaring applicant pools, in part because of stepped-up recruiting by top colleges seeking greater diversity, said Bari Norman, president of Expert Admissions, a New York admissions-counseling firm. The low rates are not deterring qualified students. "Even students who know full well that there is such a minute possibility of getting in still apply to Harvard to give it a shot," she said.


Harvard said it is allocating a record $182 million in need-based financial aid this year, an increase of nearly 6 percent over the previous year. It expects that nearly 60 percent of the incoming students will need aid.

For thousands of students with Ivy dreams, Thursday was no-decision day; they remain in limbo, on wait lists.