As Penn students begin a new semester, regular decision applicants from high schools around the world are waiting to hear if they’ll be joining them on campus in the fall.
According to the Admissions Office, the University received a total of 30,956 applications for the class of 2015. This marks an almost 15-percent increase from the nearly 27,000 applications received last year, and a record high for Penn.
A Jan. 6 press release stated that approximately 30,800 students had submitted applications to Penn; the new number takes into account additional mail-in applications that have been received since then.
Dean of Admissions Eric Furda believes that the rise was due in large part to Penn’s no-loan financial aid policies, which he said “enable students who qualify for aid to graduate free of debt.”
“Over the past year, we’ve been proactive and aggressive in our efforts to make families aware of our financial aid programs,” he said.
Because the University’s no-loan policies began with the Class of 2013, Furda speculated that “we’re just now beginning to see those policies impact the people who need them the most.”
For Michael Goran, a Penn alumnus and director of IvySelect — a California-based organization that specializes in admissions consulting — the financial benefits of applying to a school like Penn may play less of a role than one might think.
“With my population of students, the economic component really didn’t come into play as much as the general popularity of Penn’s programs,” Goran said. “A lot of my students have seemed to embrace the ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos that Penn brings to the table.”
Goran added that he saw an “unusually high” number of his advisees apply to Penn this year, through both early and regular decision.
Class of 2015 applicant Sachin Patel said he considered his personal familiarity with Penn’s academic programs as well as the school’s financial aid offerings while applying. A high-school senior at the Haverford School, Patel spent part of the past summer working at a lab on Penn’s campus.
“Over the summer, I realized that everything I wanted in a college was right here in Philadelphia,” Patel said. Still, “Penn’s financial aid program was just as important as its academics when I chose to apply,” he said.
Patel — along with all other regular decision applicants to Penn — will learn of his admissions results on Mar. 30.
As of Jan. 11, Penn and Dartmouth were the only schools in the Ivy League to have released overall application totals for the class of 2015. According to a Dartmouth press release, the College received over 21,700 applications, a 15.7 percent increase from last year’s rates.
Admissions representatives from Columbia, Cornell and Harvard universities said their numbers would likely become available in later January or early February.
“We felt comfortable putting out a number sooner rather than later because [that number] can only go up with late-arriving print applications,” Furda said. “No matter how you look at it, we have some very difficult decisions to make in the months ahead.”