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Duke Receives Largest Number of Applications in School History

Duke's new financial aid policies may have encouraged more students to apply, said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag.

Duke University has received more than 20,250 applications for admission to the class entering this fall -- the largest number in school history. Applicants will be competing for about 1,665 places for first-year students.

Last year 19,206 applications were received, which at that time was the second highest in school history.

In mid-December, prior to the application deadline, Duke announced new financial aid policies that may have encouraged more students to apply to Duke, said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag.

"We noticed that the overwhelming majority of students applying near the deadline indicated they would also be applying for financial aid. While we have no specific financial information about them right now, we know that at least some of them were responding to our new policies," Guttentag said.

Last month, Duke announced it is eliminating parental contributions for families who make less than $60,000 a year; making it possible for students from families with incomes below $40,000 to graduate debt-free; reducing loans for students from families with incomes up to $100,000 and capping loans for eligible families with incomes above $100,000. (For more information, see

In addition to setting a record for the total number of applications, records were set among students applying to Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, students from North Carolina, international students, and Latino and Asian students.

"We've also noticed a significant increase among children of alumni applying," Guttentag said. "Last year we received just over 750 applications from children of alumni, which was a record at the time, and this year's total will be at least 10 percent higher than that."

Significant increases were also seen among applicants from Florida, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Alabama.

"As always, it will take us until late March to evaluate all of these applicants, but I'm delighted with what we've already seen in this year's applicant pool," Guttentag said. "We've received over a thousand more applications than last year, and we're noticing already how interesting this year's applicants are. This year's pool represents one of the strongest -- if not the strongest -- group of applicants we've seen."

The Admissions Office will continue to review each application at least three times before a final decision is reached. According to Guttentag, "It's a very labor-intensive process, but we owe each application a thoughtful and careful review. Students put a lot of care into their applications, and we're intensely interested in understanding each student as an individual. There's no formula for the admissions process, which can make it frustrating for applicants sometimes, but also means we can create a class that is particularly talented, diverse, and engaged."

In December, 1,247 high-school seniors applied and 472 were admitted under Duke's Early Decision program.