Over a thousand high school students checked Yale’s new online admissions notification Web site last month, hoping for an early Christmas present. Over 500 were greeted with jolly blue congratulations messages.

In a record year of 2,115 early decision applications, Yale welcomed 549 students to the Class of 2006. International student applications skyrocketed from 88 to 181 this year after Yale switched to a need-blind admissions policy for foreign students beginning this fall. As a result, a larger number of international students were admitted than in previous years, Richard Shaw, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, said.

Shaw said that in the past Yale did not often consider international students applying for financial aid in the early-decision pool.

“In the past we couldn’t. We had to see the whole pool to see who we wanted to admit for those limited dollars,” Shaw said. “This is very different.”

Shaw said he believes the increase in applications is a direct reflection of the new financial aid policies.

“It’s a wee bit surprising because along the way Sept. 11 occurred,” Shaw said. “My feeling is that international students are going to continue to be interested in selective universities in the United States regardless of the international situation.”

Of the total 549 students admitted, 245 applied for financial aid, among them a greater number of international students.

Although Yale’s practice of admitting a high percentage of each incoming class through early decision has come under increased scrutiny in the current debate over early-decision policies, Yale admitted 42 percent of its next freshman class early this year, up 2 percent from last year.

This year, 26 percent of the applicants were admitted, 3 percent less than last year. Shaw said around 800 students were deferred. He said about 10 percent of those students will ultimately prevail, a number comparable to last year’s overall regular decision admissions rate of 11 percent.