Students will still have the option to apply early to Yale, the University announced earlier this month, despite the elimination of early admissions at Harvard and Princeton starting next fall.

After a review of Yale’s single choice early action program, Yale President Richard Levin and Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel announced that the University will continue offering this choice for high school seniors applying next fall. Brenzel said Yale concluded that the early program offers the most flexibility to applicants — including those applying for financial aid — in making their college choices. Citing the fact that low-income students are underrepresented in their early applicant pool, Harvard and Princeton announced in September that they would abolish their single choice early action programs next year.

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Because students admitted under early action are not required to accept the school’s offer until May, Brenzel said, applicants from low-income families are able to compare financial aid offers before making a decision about where to go to school. Since switching from early decision to early action in 2002, Yale has seen an increase in the number of financial aid students who apply early, Levin said.

In an interview which appeared in the January-February edition of the Yale Alumni Magazine, Levin said the situation has changed since he had stated in 2002 that he would like to see early admissions eliminated everywhere.

“I emphasized that every school would have to eliminate early admissions to achieve the desired result,” Levin said in the interview. “But this is very unlikely to happen. If Yale were to eliminate early admissions now, it is most likely that we would end up with a system where the top three or five schools had no early program, and just about everybody else did.”

Two of Yale’s top four competitors in undergraduate admissions — Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — made it clear after Harvard’s announcement that they were not changing their early action policies. This further emboldened Yale to continue its early program, Levin said.

But Harvard officials said that applicants will benefit most if other schools follow its lead.

“We continue to hope that other schools will join us, because we believe that this change will sharpen the focus of the admissions process on its most important goal — helping students find the right college match,” John Longbrake, a senior communications director at Harvard, said in an e-mail.

Many current Yalies, as well as those who were admitted in December for the class of 2011, describe early admissions as a blessing.

Mitchell Ji ’09, who applied to Yale under early action, said he disagrees with Harvard and Princeton’s contention that single choice early action programs put some students at a disadvantage.

“I don’t quite understand why it hurts those seeking financial aid, because it isn’t binding,” he said. “It’s also nice to see Yale stand firm for once and not follow in the footsteps of Harvard.”