College Admits 4.9 Percent of Applicants to Class of 2024

And the term bill exceeds $70,000 for the first time. 

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid 
Photograph by Lydia Carmichael/Harvard Magazine

The College has admitted 1,980 of 40,248 applicants to the class of 2024 (895 of whom were admitted through early action in December). The 4.9 percent admit rate is up from 4.5 percent last year, reflecting an applicant pool down by about 3,000 students. 

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s admits won’t be able to visit Harvard’s campus or meet one another in person at the traditional Visitas weekend in April. Instead, dean of admissions and financial aid William Fitzsimmons said in a statement, “We look forward to giving them a preview of what Harvard College has to offer during our Virtual Visitas program.” 

First-generation college students represent 19.4 percent of the admitted class, up from 16.4 percent last year, and 19 percent of admits (up from 17 percent last year) qualify for federal Pell grants, commonly used as a proxy for low-income status. The class’s racial make-up is similar to last year’s: 24.5 percent of the admits are Asian Americans (25.4 percent last year), 14.8 percent are African Americans (same as last year), 12.7 percent are Latinx (12.4 percent last year), 1.8 percent are Native Americans (same as last year), and .4 percent are Native Hawaiians (.6 percent last year). Women make up 51.6 percent of the admitted class.

The University’s announcement also highlighted recruitment of veterans and students interested in the military: 13 veterans were admitted to the class, and 47 admits expressed interest in ROTC. “We are thrilled that more military veterans are applying to and enrolling in the College than at any time in recent decades,” said Marlyn McGrath, director of admissions.

The sticker price (before financial aid) of attendance will increase to $72,391 next year (its first time exceeding $70,000), up 4 percent from $69,607 this year. Total cost of attendance crossed $60,000 for the first time in the 2016-2017 academic year, $50,000 for the first time in 2010-2011, and $40,000 in 2005-2006 (tuition data going back to 1985 are available in the Harvard University Fact Book).  

Most students will not pay the full term bill, however. The University’s statement reports that this fall, “more than half of the class will receive need-based grants, allowing families to pay an average of $12,000 annually. Harvard will require no contribution from nearly 23 percent of the families, representing those with annual incomes below $65,000.” 

Through the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI), students from families earning less than $65,000 per year pay nothing to attend Harvard, and those from families earning up to $150,000 typically pay on a graduated scale, up to 10 percent of their families’ annual incomes. Students with a family income below $65,000 will also receive $2,000 start-up grants to spend on whatever they choose, including books, moving costs, and meals out. 

Harvard also announced this month that it would eliminate the expectation that students on financial aid would work during the summer as part of their aid packages. “This initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure that students can engage fully, explore bravely, make authentic choices, and realize their full potential as members of the Harvard community,” said Claudine Gay, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in an announcement earlier this month. Students will still be expected to work during the academic year. 

“The College continues to invest in its core value of providing access to a Harvard education to outstanding students from all economic backgrounds and we are pleased that our generous, need-based financial-aid program is continuing to inspire applicants to apply,” said Griffin director of financial aid Jake Kaufmann. “All aided students now have the added benefit of Harvard’s elimination of the summer-work expectation, which we hope allows them to pursue summer internships, research, or public-service opportunities.”

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