Ellie Park, Photography Editor

On Thursday evening, 709 students refreshed their Yale College applicant portals to the news that they had been offered a spot in the College’s class of 2028. 

The 9.02 percent acceptance rate is the lowest in over two decades. Of the remaining applicants in a pool of 7,856 total, 20 percent, or 1,531 students, were deferred to the regular decision pool; 70 percent, or 5,537 students, were denied admission and 1 percent, or 79 students, withdrew their applications or submitted incomplete ones.

The 70 percent of denied applicants is the largest share of early action rejections since at least six years ago, when the class of 2022 received its early action decisions. The 9.02 percent acceptance rate is the lowest since Yale adopted its current non-binding early admissions model, which first went into effect for the class of 2008.

As Yale practices a non-binding early admissions model, the 709 admitted students are not required to matriculate to Yale College and instead must accept or decline Yale’s offer by May 1. Deferred students will be reconsidered during the regular decision cycle and will receive an admissions update on March 28; admits must also accept or decline their offers by May 1.

This application cycle marks the first time in recent history in which admissions officers did and will not have access to students’ racial identities while evaluating their applications, since the Supreme Court declared race-conscious college admissions unconstitutional this past June. Additionally, the admissions officers will not have access to information about racial demographics for the aggregate applicant pool until after all admissions decisions have been made.

In September, the University announced that it would make several changes to its admissions process in the wake of affirmative action’s fall. Among them was the incorporation of new place-based data from Opportunity Atlas, a nationwide mapping project that measures economic mobility. The University wrote in a Dec. 14 press release that the data from Opportunity Atlas complements information from the College Board’s Landscape tool, which has been part of the Yale College admissions process since 2017.

“Admissions officers have found that the data improves committee’s evaluation of applicants from under-resourced areas and has contributed to a rapid increase in enrollments from lower-income students,” the University explained in a press release issued about today’s admissions decisions. “The first-year class that arrived in New Haven in August includes more than twice as many first-generation college students and students eligible for Federal Pell Grants for lower-income households compared with the class arrived in 2013.”

Earlier this year, the admissions office also hired two full-time staff members to increase engagement with college access organizations and to bolster student-focused outreach programs. 

This cycle continues what is now a four-year trend of Yale College rejecting more early applicants than it defers, which the News first reported on last year

Data suggest that the admissions office previously preferred to delay final calls on applications until the spring regular decision date. But starting with the class of 2025, the office began moving toward rejecting a larger share of applicants in the early action round itself. Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, attributed this change to two primary factors. 

“First, the increase in applications,” Quinlan told the News last winter. “Deferring an application means the committee has to reconsider the application going forward … [so] we are pushing ourselves to make more final decisions in the early application round. The second thing was that we heard from our colleagues in high schools across the country that it is useful to offer final decisions earlier.”

All admitted students will be invited to visit campus in April for Bulldog Days, an annual three-day recruitment program for potential Yalies, or for Bulldog Saturday, a one-day program that offers similar exposure to campus academics and extracurriculars. The admissions office also plans to put together virtual events and online communities to help new admits connect with each another and with current Yalies. 

The admissions office provides lower-income families with financial support to participate in Bulldog Days; last year, more than 550 students received travel grants, and the office booked more than 300 flight, train and bus tickets for students nationwide. 

In addition to being the first applicant class to be evaluated race-blind, the class of 2028 may be the last to seek admission under a test-optional policy. 

Due to testing interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the College first implemented a test-optional admissions model in 2020 for students applying to the class of 2025 and has renewed that model for one year at a time ever since. The admissions office told the News last year that it planned to decide on a long-term standardized testing policy last winter but then delayed its decision until the spring of 2023 and again until winter 2024. Now, an announcement about Yale’s long-term testing policy is expected in the coming months, and that policy would first go into effect for next year’s applicants.

By the Nov. 1 early action deadline, 7,866 students had applied. By the Dec. 14 decision date, the early action pool had reduced to 7,856 students. The admissions office chalked up a similar discrepancy last year to students switching between their chosen application round. Students who had initially applied for consideration in the early round were allowed to switch to regular decision before mid-December, while those who had initially applied to the regular decision round were allowed to switch to early action before the EA deadline on Nov. 1.

RD applicants must submit their applications by Jan. 2 and will hear back on March 28.

Earlier this month, the College also admitted 72 students to the class of 2028 through the QuestBridge College Match, a program that connects high-achieving high school students from lower-income backgrounds with selective universities nationwide. 

New Yalies who match through QuestBridge receive a financial aid award that covers the full cost of tuition, housing and meals. Yale also provides hospitalization insurance coverage and a $2,000 start-up grant for each student’s first year. 

Yale’s undergraduate financial aid policy stipulates that the University provide all admitted students with 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need — which the University allegedly determines using its own formulas — regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

While students admitted through the QuestBridge match program are obligated to matriculate to Yale, both QuestBridge and non-QuestBridge students admitted through the early action program have until May 1 to make their final decision, as do regular decision admits.  

Molly Reinmann and Anika Arora Seth contributed reporting.