Harvard College accepted 3.19 percent of applicants to its Class of 2026 — the lowest rate in the school’s history — as it saw a record high number of candidates apply for the second straight year.
A total of 1,214 students received offers of admission at 7 p.m. on Thursday, joining the 740 students who were accepted via early admission in December. The acceptance rate is down from the 3.43 percent of students admitted to the Class of 2025 last year — which marked the previous record-low.
Applications to the College jumped by almost 7 percent, with 61,220 students submitting applications to the school, compared to 57,435 last year.
“It’s truly a wonderful class,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said in an interview Thursday. “I think anyone who is in the Class of 2026 could certainly claim — as we claimed for the Class of 1967 — that it’s the greatest class in the history of Harvard.”
Harvard also announced Thursday that it will cover the full cost of attendance — including tuition, room and board, and all fees — for students whose families make under $75,000. The previous threshold for full financial aid was $65,000. The College expects the average aided family contribution to be $12,700.
Fitzsimmons said more generous financial aid policies allow “students from every conceivable background” access to Harvard, which he said would help make the world “a better place.”
“The world’s greatest students can now realistically think about coming to places like ours,” he said.
The Class of 2026 includes the highest percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants, typically awarded to low income students — 20.5 percent of admitted students are eligible for the federal program, up from 20.4 the previous year.
Out of the admitted students, 20.3 percent will be the first in their families to go to college, down slightly from 20.7 the previous year.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a lawsuit alleging Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policies discriminate against Asian American applicants, the College saw a slight increase in the percentage of admitted students who are Asian — 27.8 percent, compared to 27.2 percent in the Class of 2025.
African American or Black students comprise 15.5 percent of the class, a decrease from the previous year’s 18 percent. Latinx students make up 12.6 percent of the cohort — down from 13.3 percent in the Class of 2025, but roughly on par with the Class of 2024. The percentage of Native American admitted students shot up to 2.9 percent, more than double the previous year’s total of 1.2 percent. The percentage of Native Hawaiians also increased to 0.8 percent of the class, from 0.6 percent last year.
“These kinds of things are going to change from year to year,” Fitzsimmons said. “Sometimes you’ll have truly great years, as we’re having this year with Native American and Native Hawaiian students. It’s just the way it works in your applicant pool.”
For the fifth consecutive year, women make up the majority of admitted students, with 54.2 percent of admits identifying as female — an increase from 52.9 percent last year.
Continuing its efforts to attract veterans to the College, Harvard admitted 18 veterans to the Class of 2026 — around the same as the 19 accepted last year. Just six veterans were admitted to the Class of 2023. Forty students expressed interest in ROTC, equal to last year’s number.
“Success breeds success, so the word is out,” Fitzsimmons said. “The word is out about how good the financial aid is, because I think, as a first generation student, a fair number of vets and ROTC people are first generation.”
“The first thing you think about Harvard — you think it might not be affordable, and it’s just the opposite,” he said. “We’re hoping it will help us to continue to do even better.”
Students admitted to the Class of 2026 hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. overseas territories, and a total of 98 countries — up from 94 countries the previous year. The plurality of admitted students, 22.2 percent, come from the Mid-Atlantic, followed by 18.2 percent from the South, 16.6 percent from Western or Mountain states, 16.4 percent from New England, 9.8 from the Midwest, and 14.9 percent from U.S. overseas territories or abroad.
This year’s incoming class will be welcomed to campus with an in-person Visitas, a two-day admitted students program scheduled for April 24-25. This will be the first Visitas held in person since 2019 due the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We're very pleased that it's back in person,” Fitzsimmons said.
“In person, things are opening up, and that's terrific,” he said.
Admitted students have until May 2 to accept or deny their offer to join the Class of 2026.
Correction: April 1, 2022
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated families making under $75,000 annually will not be charged tuition at Harvard College. In fact, the school will cover the full cost of attendance — including tuition, room and board, and all fees — for students whose families make under $75,000 annually.
—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at email@example.com.