Yale accepted 735 students from its early applicant pool this year, yielding a 15.5 percent early acceptance rate for the Class of 2018. The decisions were released to applicants online this afternoon.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions received 4,750 applications this year and  reported a 5.5 percent increase in total applicants. However, this year’s acceptance rate is slightly higher than last year’s, when the University accepted only 649 students for an admit rate of 14.4 percent. For the Class of 2018, 1,225 applicants were rejected and 2,735 applicants were deferred for reconsideration in the spring, making for rates of 25.8 percent and 57.6 percent respectively. These numbers are also roughly in line with last year when 56 percent of early action applicants were waitlisted and 29 percent were denied admission in the early round.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said in an email to the News that the admissions office saw “increased strength and diversity in this year’s applicant pool.” Quinlan added that this year’s early applicant pool included an increased number of high-achieving first generation college students and students from low-income communities.

Both Quinlan and outside college experts said to the News in November that these groups tend to be underrepresented in the early applicant pool. Students in the early applicant pool tend to be wealthier and more knowledgeable about the application process, but Quinlan and outside college counselors agreed that the discrepancy between the early and regular applications rounds has been gradually decreasing.

For the first year in recent years, the undergraduate admissions office has also publicized the number of Questbridge scholars the University has accepted through the QuestBridge National College Match — a program that seeks to link high-achieving low-income high school students with selective American colleges. This year, the University accepted 24 students through the QuestBridge program as early applicants.

Quinlan said that QuestBridge is a nonprofit organization that “has demonstrated an extraordinary capability for identifying high-achieving, low-income students,” adding that Yale’s commitment to QuestBridge — the University hosts one of QuestBridge’s three national summer conferences — shows that the admissions office seeks to make Yale accessible to the most talented student around the world, regardless of their family’s income.

Most other selective universities also saw increased early applications this year, with several other Ivy League schools having also notified early applicants. Harvard announced on Friday that it accepted 21 percent of the 4,692 early applications it received, or 992 students. Dartmouth and Brown — which, unlike Yale and Harvard, practice a binding early admissions program — accepted 469 and 583 students respectively. Dartmouth’s acceptance rate totaled to 27.9 percent, while Brown’s reached 18.9 percent.

Accepted applicants have until May 1 to make a final decision and can apply to other colleges in regular admissions rounds.