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Over 8,000 students applied to Penn in the early decision applicant pool for the Class of 2027.

Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn announced early decision admissions results for the Class of 2027, admitting the first-ever group of students who will not have to pay an enrollment deposit.

According to the announcement, over 8,000 students applied to Penn through the Early Decision Program this year — an increase from last year’s 7,795 applicants and the largest early decision applicant pool in its history. The results were released on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.

Penn did not disclose the acceptance rate, continuing its decision to withhold detailed admissions results immediately. Last year, 15.6% of early decision applicants were admitted to the Class of 2026, but the University opted not to release the acceptance rate for regular decision applicants. 

Admitted students hail from 65 countries, compared to last year’s 60 countries, and represent 43 states, an increase from last year’s 42 states, as well as Washington D.C., Saipan, and Puerto Rico. The announcement also stated that the admitted early decision pool has "more diversity" and a higher proportion of first generation students than any other year. 

"But, most importantly, each student joining the Class of 2027 is so much more than a number or a statistic to the members of our Admissions Committee," the announcement said. 

Ahead of the early decision release, Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions Whitney Soule announced that Penn Admissions will no longer require students to pay the $400 enrollment deposit, beginning with the Class of 2027. Now, incoming first years will not pay anything toward tuition until the bill arrives for their first semester. 

"We eliminated the deposit so that every student we admit to Penn has the same experience. We want them to be free to celebrate and accept their spot without any pause or roadblock of financial anxiety," Soule wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

With this decision, Penn has become the seventh Ivy League university that will not require incoming students to pay an enrollment deposit — a fee typically signifying an "intent to enroll" that gives universities an idea of the incoming class size. The other universities that have eliminated the deposit are Harvard University, Yale University, and Brown University. 

In an interview with Higher Ed Dive, Soule said that the elimination of the enrollment deposit is supposed to ease the application process for students that might struggle to pay. Soule also said that around 20% of students currently use deposit waivers, and some students who pay the enrollment deposit back out of enrollment anyway.

"Previously, we reassured students that we would waive the deposit for them if it presented a burden," Soule wrote to the DP. "With this change, we have made sure that the deposit burden is never there in the first place."

This is the first early decision admissions cycle in recent memory where Penn has not released detailed admissions figures after notifying applicants of their results. Soule told The Wall Street Journal in March that withholding the acceptance rate is meant to deemphasize the selectivity of a university's admissions process. Last spring, Princeton and Cornell also declined to release their acceptance rates. 

Penn is still expected to post detailed admissions figures publicly in reports to the U.S. Department of Education and through the Common Data Set online, which are typically submitted once per year.

These are just two of several changes that Penn Admissions has recently announced. In August, Penn Admissions released a new supplemental essay prompt for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, which requires students to write a letter of gratitude to someone they have not previously thanked. The new prompt — meant to encourage students to think about how they are shaped by the people around them — is among many changes implemented by Soule, who assumed the position in July 2021. 

During the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, Penn changed its requirements to allow applicants to submit one recommendation letter from someone other than a teacher. Previously, students were required to submit two recommendation letters written by teachers. This change was made to better suit students’ nontraditional high school experiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, SAT and ACT score submissions remain optional for the Class of 2027, a practice started during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle due to the disruption of the pandemic. 

Ahead of the regular decision results expected to be announced in spring 2023, more changes are anticipated at Penn Admissions. The office is currently working to fill a vacancy that has been left by John McLaughlin, who left his position as Penn's vice dean and director of admissions in November to start a new position at Hamilton College in January.