On Wednesday evening, 648 high school seniors will find out that they are the first members of Duke University's Class of 2016.This year, a record 2,641 students applied under Duke's Early Decision program, a 20 percent increase over last year's number. Those who apply via this process know they want to attend Duke and commit to enroll at the university if they receive an offer of admission in December.Students admitted through Early Decision this year will represent 38 percent of next fall's incoming class, which is expected to include 1,705 students. Of the 648 admits, 526 will enroll in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the remaining 122 will enroll in the Pratt School of Engineering.New York, California, North Carolina, Florida and Texas are the states with the greatest representation among students admitted through Early Decision. States with the largest increases in admits are Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri and South Carolina. Students of color comprise 30 percent and international students make up 7 percent of those admitted, both unchanged from last year.Last year, the university accepted 645 students through Early Decision. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag said the interest in Early Decision continues to grow, and as a result the process is more competitive than in previous years. The percentage of Early Decision applicants who were accepted decreased from 29.2 percent in 2010 to record low 24.5 percent this year."My staff and I had a particularly challenging time this year choosing students from such a robust pool of applicants," Guttentag said. "We wanted to be responsive to the many students who were willing to commit to Duke, while leaving enough room in the class for Regular Decision applicants. Most high school seniors aren't quite ready to make a commitment so early, so we try to strike a healthy balance between Early Decision and Regular Decision."Guttentag said the increase in Early Decision applications is due in part to Duke's commitment to need-based financial aid. More than 46 percent of those admitted expressed an interest in financial aid."We're pleased that so many families are willing to make the Early Decision commitment even as they recognize that they will require financial aid. We're glad that they understand the commitment the university has to making Duke affordable for students from every background. We realize it's a bit of a leap of faith for them, and our financial aid office does a great job of making it all work out," Guttentag said.Starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, students will be able to receive their decisions online by visiting a website. Last year, more than 200 students received their decisions in the first minute, and more than 600 received their decision in the first 10 minutes. Within 12 hours, almost half of the students admitted had responded online with their intent to enroll.Guttentag said the majority of places in the Class of 2016 would continue to be filled by Regular Decision applicants. Last year, Duke received more than 26,400 Regular Decision applications, a record, and this year will likely be as selective to fill the remaining 1,057 spaces in the class, he added.Of those who applied via Early Decision this year, 693 were deferred to the spring Regular Decision process.The deadline for Regular Admission is Jan. 2, and final decisions will be made available to students on March 30.