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There is less than a week remaining before early decision candidates for the Class of 2019 must submit their applications. In less than two months, around half of next year’s incoming class will have their acceptance letters in hand.

Colleges have different policies to capture applicants early on, including early decision, early action and rolling admission. Penn started its early decision program — which requires that applicants contractually agree to attend if accepted — four decades ago, and has consistently offered the opportunity to apply early since then.

In both 2013 and 2014, the University received record-high numbers of early decision applicants, with 4,780 in 2012 and 5,133 in 2013. The Office of Admissions is expecting to receive a similar range of applications this year.

Compared to other Ivy League universities, Penn received the highest number of applications last year in its early application pool. Cornell University, which also has an early decision policy, received 4,775 applications, and Harvard and Yale universities, which have restrictive early action policies, received 4,692 and 4,750, respectively.

The office does not have a set number of students it is intending to admit for this year, but the early decision admission rate usually ranges between 22 and 24 percent.

Penn accepted 1,299 applicants in the early application round last year, which accounted for 25.3 percent of the early decision applicant pool.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said the early decision policy helps not only the students who are highly interested in Penn, but also the University. “The benefit to Penn is that we get a group of highly talented and excited students who are knowledgeable about Penn,” he said.

Although applicants who are accepted in the early decision round commit to attending Penn, there are a few students each year who do decline to attend when the financial aid does not fully address the need of the applicant, Furda said. He added that the Office of Admissions is open to conversation about students’ commitment to attend Penn.

Furda said overall, more students are applying to early programs because families want to have certainty as soon as they can to figure out financial aid packages with schools and to guide their decisions about regular decision applications.

“If [applicants] are able to find out earlier in the year that they have an offer or two, it helps with their adjusting college list,” Furda said.

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