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Gate to college campus

Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. Early applications to the university dropped by 17 percent this fall.

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Early undergraduate applications to Harvard fell by 17 percent this fall, according to data shared by the university. Harvard’s early-action program drew 7,921 applicants this cycle, compared to 9,553 last year.

It’s a marked decline amid a sea of rising troubles for the institution. Harvard came under fire earlier this month for President Claudine Gay’s responses during a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism. And this summer the university lost a landmark Supreme Court case on affirmative action, resulting in a nationwide ban on the practice.

The news also comes as early admissions policies are under renewed scrutiny; many critics believe they give priority to wealthy, white students. However, nationwide early applications increased from pre-pandemic levels by 38 percent this fall, according to preliminary Common App data provided to Inside Higher Ed.

Harvard admitted 692 students via early action, a little less than 9 percent of the pool. The university did not release the racial or demographic breakdown of those students, as it did last year.