In the next few days, thousands of students around the world will be receiving decision letters from Yale’s admissions office — and a record number of them will be disappointed.

With a record 14,809 applications and a 50-person cut in class size to deal with the University’s housing crunch, admission to Yale is tighter this year than ever before. Including the 526 students admitted early decision, the University is welcoming a select 2,000 students to the Class of 2005 — for a record-low 13.5 percent admit rate.

The admitted class is divided nearly equally between men and women, while 42 percent of those admitted are students of color and 56.6 percent attend public high schools.

“It’s an extraordinary year for us in just the demand for Yale, so the caliber of students is just outstanding,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said.

This year’s 13.5 percent admit rate, which may rise if not enough admitted students choose Yale, is a marked drop from recent years in which Yale typically accepted about 16 percent of applicants.

While the admit rate is often thought of as a measure of a college’s selectivity, the most telling number, Shaw said, is the matriculation rate.

Saying that the students admitted to the Class of 2005 are the strongest seen in years, admissions officials said they will spend the next month trying to get the 1,474 admitted under regular decision to come. The 526 students admitted in the early decision round are already committed to coming. The target freshman class size for next year is 1,300, and last year 66 percent of admitted students chose to attend the University. If that matriculation rate holds true this year, 1,320 freshmen will attend Yale in the fall.

If fewer than 66 percent of the admitted students chose to attend, Yale will fill the rest of the freshman class by dipping into its wait list, which would raise the admit rate.

Shaw said though he hoped the matriculation rate holds steady, he is concerned that bold financial aid plans recently announced by Yale’s peers may draw accepted students away from the University. Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University have all announced in the last three months financial aid boosts that would affect the Class of 2005.

Yale has announced no major financial aid policy change in response to its peers’ recent plans, and University officials said they do not expect to announce one until next year. Admissions and financial aid officers said they are carefully watching admitted students this month to see where they choose to attend.

Sixty-five percent of the 2,000 students admitted applied for financial aid — a standard percentage, Shaw said. Many of them will not be awarded aid. A little less than 40 percent of each Yale class usually receives aid.

Shaw said the University had no explicit policy to match packages that admits have received from other schools. However, he said he hopes students with financial need will feel Yale has accommodated their need and choose to come.

“I think everyone wants to be competitive. I think our position is we want to be competitive as well,” Shaw said. “We’re going to work with students. We’re going to try to understand everything we can about the family’s situation. We’re going to everything in our power to be competitive.”

He said he hopes students concerned about their aid packages will call Yale’s financial aid office.

Shaw said aside from those concerned with their aid packages, he worries most about attracting students that do not visit campus.

To attract geographically distant students who have not been to Yale, alumni hold receptions around the world and the admissions office holds phone-a-thons. Under the guidance of founder Alexander Clark ’04, the office has also launched a new Web page featuring a “virtual” Bulldog Days, an online version of the campus visitation program, which will be held April 17-18.