Yale’s 3.5 percent increase in early applications this year falls in line with the numbers at the University’s Ivy League peers, as most schools in the Ancient Eight saw increases this fall in the number of received early applications.

After a 3 percent decrease in early applications in 2004, Yale received 4,072 applications in its early action program this fall, and other Ivies enjoyed similar increases. The University of Pennsylvania received 4,148 applications, a 21 percent jump from last year’s number. The number of applications received by Dartmouth College went up 12 percent to 1,321, and Columbia University’s early application number increased to 2,275 — a 5.5 percent gain over last year. Princeton’s early application numbers grew by 9 percent, from 2,039 last year to 2,230 applications this fall.

The only Ivy to report a decrease this fall was Harvard University, which received approximately 4,000 applications, a 5 percent decrease from the 4,214 received last year. Brown and Cornell universities have not yet released their early application numbers.

Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said Harvard and Yale — which both offer non-restrictive single-choice early action options — should be considered separately from schools that offer less flexible admissions programs. Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton and Penn all offer binding early decision programs.

“As for comparison with other Ivies, our program and Harvard’s are significantly different,” Brenzel said. “Single-choice early action provides much greater flexibility to accepted applicants than the early decision process used at the other schools.”

But Dartmouth Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenburg said he believes Dartmouth’s early decision program allows interested students to demonstrate a full commitment to the school that early action programs do not permit.

“Things are settling down in the early decision-early action debate,” Furstenburg said. “For those people who had a lot of interest in Dartmouth and thought early decision was the way to go, they went with it and were able to clearly indicate this enthusiasm.”

This year marked the third time Yale has offered the single-choice early action program, in which students may only apply to one school early, but are not obliged to attend if accepted. In 2003, when both Yale and Harvard introduced the program, Yale received 55 percent more applications than it had received the year before.

David Hawkins, the director of public policy at the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, said the only trend he has noticed recently in early admissions has been a general increase in the number of applicants to Ivy League schools.

“Last year, most colleges said they received the same or fewer applications early,” Hawkins said. “However, among the selective schools, the number of applications continues to increase every year. There seems to be a limitless amount of applications for them, though I’m not necessarily sure how to explain that.”

Hawkins said there are a number of reasons a school might see an increase in applications in any given year, but he said Yale’s financial aid reforms were probably a compelling factor.

“A new mailer, an increased outreach program, [or] a new financial aid policy could all contribute,” he said. “Certainly, for Yale, I would not be surprised if the financial aid policy drew students.”

Last year, Yale eliminated the parental contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 and reduced the contribution for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.

Barbara Sarullo, the director of college counseling at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, N.Y., said she does not believe the fluctuations in application numbers affect how many students apply the following year.

“I don’t think the small increases or decreases affect decisions,” she said. “Kids give good thought to their choices.”

Students who applied to Yale through the early action program will receive admissions decisions in mid-December.

Last year, Yale had a record-low 9.7 percent acceptance rate, as the University accepted 17.9 percent of early applicants and 7.5 percent of students who applied regular decision.