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On Dec. 16, 656 students were admitted to MIT’s class of 2020. With a record-high 7,767 early action applicants this year, the early-admission rate sunk to 8.4 percent, down from 9.6 percent last year.

The dramatic increase in early applications may be attributed to a change in policy this year. For the first time, international students were allowed to apply for consideration during the early action round of admissions.

Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill ’86 said that he was “really pleased” to be able to open early action program to international students.

The policy change “certainly made the decisions that much tougher — we received about a thousand applications from international students — but also allowed us to admit a few more students than we did last year,” Schmill said.

Among the early admits, 6 percent are international students. By comparison, about 9.7 percent of the current undergraduate student body is international.

The diversity of this year’s early admits extends beyond just the geographic: 14 percent will be the first in their family to graduate from college, 27 percent identify as underrepresented minorities, and 49 percent are women.

As always, the majority of applicants were not offered early admission. Among those students, 2,175 were rejected, while the other 4,776 were deferred. The latter group will be considered again among the larger pool of regular action applicants. Schmill noted that the available housing for future MIT students is a “critical” criterion in determining the class size for each year.

The remainder of this year’s admissions decisions will remain a mystery until spring. In all likelihood, the majority of the MIT Class of 2020 have yet to receive their acceptance letters.