The number of early action applicants to Yale College increased by more than 10.4 percent this year, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said Thursday.

The most recent count, taken on Thursday, shows that a record-breaking 5,400 students have applied for admission into the class of 2013, Brenzel said. That figure is expected to climb to about 5,500 once all the received applications have been counted, he added — an increase of 12.5 percent over last year.

Still, one year after the admissions landscape dramatically changed with the elimination of early admission programs at Harvard and Princeton universities, Yale will likely extend fewer acceptance offers to early admissions applicants than it did last year now that the admissions office can better predict yield, Brenzel said.

Last fall, 4,888 students applied to Yale through single-choice early action — an increase of 38 percent over the previous year — and 885 were admitted, at an acceptance rate of 18.1 percent.

Many admissions experts predicted last year that Yale’s yield — the percentage of students who accept offers of admission — would fall in the wake of the elimination of early admission programs at Harvard and Princeton universities.

But Yale’s yield rate remained virtually unchanged last year: 68.7 percent of admitted students matriculated in the fall, compared to about 71 percent for the previous three years. The admissions office accepted 176 more applicants for the class of 2012 through early action than it had for the class of 2011.

The exact number of early applications received cannot yet be released, Brenzel said, because some of the small number of paper applications have not yet been hand-scanned.

“The officers have thousands of other applications already in the system to read, which is why this is of essentially zero concern,” he said in an e-mail.

This year, the office of admissions hired two additional staff members in order to prepare for the incoming applications, Brenzel said.

Four college counselors interviewed Thursday said they found Yale’s rise in early applications unsurprising. While two said they have seen a decrease in the number of students applying early to colleges because of financial concerns, all four said they do not expect the economic downturn to impact Yale’s application numbers because of its newly revamped financial-aid policy.

Yale may have seen an increase in applications because a growing number of students across the country are aware of its strong financial-aid program, said Sarah Beyreis ’85 GRD ’94, director of college counseling at Cincinnati Country Day School.

“The media has gotten the message through, especially last year, that places like Yale and Harvard are for everybody,” she said.

The economic crisis may have pushed some students to look toward Yale and its peers because their strong endowments and better financial-aid packages, postulated Sari Rauscher, director of college counseling at the Waterford School, located south of Salt Lake City.

“I think the pressure for students to get into top schools from a financial standpoint is greater,” she said.

Still, the majority of students applying to Yale early are still highly likely to attend, whether or not finances were a concern, said Beth Slattery, a dean at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, which routinely sends a large number of students to Yale each year.

Last year Yale received a total of 22,817 applications, more than ever before in the College’s history. Of those applicants, 1,952 were admitted, producing a record-low acceptance rate of 8.6 percent.