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MIT accepted 10.7 percent of early applicants this year, in what may be the most competitive admissions season yet. Out of 5019 applications, 540 students were offered early admission, according to Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill ’86.

Compared to last year, the early action pool grew by 28 percent, though roughly the same number of students were accepted.

A storm of regular applications caused the admissions office to extend the deadline to Jan. 3. Though they have not all been counted, Schmill said he is confident MIT received at least 15,000 applications, a significant increase over the 13,396 regular applications last year. Despite the growing number of applications, Schmill said there are no plans to increase the size of the incoming class.

Schmill said the increase in early applications is partly due to MIT’s decision this year to participate in the Questbridge College Match Program. Questbridge, a California-based non-profit, helps low-income students apply for full-rides at prestigious colleges. Close to 600 students applied early to MIT through Questbridge, and 36 of were accepted. Over 25 top US universities participate, including Princeton, Yale, Caltech, and Stanford.

Schmill added that rising tuition and the economic downturn might also have contributed to the swelling admissions numbers: students may be applying to more schools to increase their chances of receiving financial aid.

The students who were accepted early represent 45 U.S. states and come from 442 different schools (74 percent of them public). Since early action is only available for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, no international students were accepted. Last year, international students made up 9 percent of the incoming class.

Valedictorians made up 42 percent of accepted students; 93 percent ranked in the top 5 percent of their class. Median math and verbal SAT scores of accepted students were 780 and 730, respectively. The male/female ratio is 53:47, and 29 percent are minorities with 18 percent Latino, 9 percent African American, and 1 percent Native American.

The application deadline for regular admission was extended to January 3 after an overwhelming number of applications slowed the admissions servers and caused delays on the website, Schmill said. Most applications are submitted online, though MIT Admissions receives all teacher recommendations via mail.

According to the MIT Admissions website, regular admissions results will be mailed out in the middle of March.