The undergraduate admissions office received about 17,000 regular decision applications this year, over 1,500 more than last year and Yale’s largest number of applications ever. With the jump in applications, Student Financial Services, which coordinates financial aid awards, expects to handle more financial aid applications, Director of University Financial Aid Myra Smith said. Both offices have enlisted support to handle the volume of applications — the admissions office has hired employees, while the Student Financial Services office has moved to a new digital application system.

“I think we’re going to creep up to 17,000 [applications],” Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said. “There’s no question that it will be the highest yet.”

Last year, the admissions office received 15,443 regular decision applications.

To cope with the influx of paper, the admissions office hired temporary workers to file applications during winter break and after normal business hours in the months following the regular decision deadline of Dec. 31.

Student employees file until 9 p.m. to pull together all the parts of the applications — teacher recommendations, transcripts, essays, and activities lists. More than 10 people file at a time during the day in the Hillhouse Avenue office.

Brian Palmer ’03, who started working for the admissions office last semester, said the office is still getting mail, such as teacher recommendations. Recommendations often come separate from the main portion of the application.

“The last couple of weeks there have been a lot of people working there that aren’t students, [filing] all day. There weren’t nearly that many before break,” he said. “There are 10 to 15 people in there doing this all day long and it pretty much never ends.”

“While everybody is on vacation we’re fully staffed,” Shaw said. “We try to have people until 9 p.m.”

Meanwhile, a few blocks away at Student Financial Services, the increase in applicants has still brought less paperwork than ever before.

Financial aid applications are “imaged” — scanned and digitized for less cumbersome access, Smith said. If students come in to discuss their aid packages, financial aid officers can access their applications on computers, rather than having to search through files. Students will also be receiving notices and links to online forms via e-mail this year.

“It will be much easier for students during the application process and it’s much easier to counsel them,” Smith said.

Last year, 67 percent of regular decision applicants applied for financial aid. Shaw said he expects about the number will be about the same this year.

Smith said she has seen an increase in the number of enrolled students applying for aid, which she attributes to the struggling economy. She said that might indicate that more prospective freshmen will seek aid.

The financial aid office does not calculate aid packages until it finds out which candidates have been admitted, but it has to process and organize the information from all applicants.

“Those applications have to be ready to read the minute we get an application decision,” Smith said.