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### Surge in College Applications Observed in 2024

The number of individuals applying to college by March 1, 2024, has risen by 6% compared to the same period last year, as per the latest data. These figures pertain to applications for fall 2024 admissions at four-year institutions.

As of March 1, a total of 1,313,763 unique first-year applicants had submitted applications to 834 institutions through the Common App, marking a surge of over 70,000 applicants from the previous year.

The overall count of applications through March 1 has escalated by 7%, climbing from 7,041,256 last year to 7,541,148 this year. It’s notable that applicants this year are applying to slightly more institutions compared to the previous cycle (increasing by 1% from 5.66 to 5.74 applications per applicant).

This surge in applicants this year continues the upward trajectory in applications when compared to the 2019–20 cycle, which was unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In contrast to 2019-20, the number of applicants to four-year colleges has surged by more than 285,000 this year, reflecting a substantial 28% increase.

Characteristics of Applicants

This admission cycle is the first since the prohibition of race-conscious admissions, sparking particular interest in demographic trends in applicant behavior.

Applicants from underrepresented minority (URM) groups, such as Black or African American, Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, have surged by 10%, a rate five times higher than non-URM applicants.

Among the two largest URM cohorts, Black applicants have increased by 9%, while Latinx applicants have seen a 10% rise. In contrast, the number of white applicants has only grown by 1%.

Applicants hailing from below-median income ZIP codes have witnessed a 10% growth, surpassing the 3% increase seen among their counterparts from above-median income ZIP codes.

The percentage of students indicating eligibility for a Common App fee waiver has surged at a rate more than six times higher than those not reporting fee waiver eligibility (13% versus 2%).

First-generation-to-college applicants have increased by 4%, in comparison to a 7% rise among non-first-gen applicants.

The surge in international applicants (13%) has notably outpaced the growth in domestic applicants (5%), with the most significant growth observed among applicants holding citizenship in Ghana (93%), Afghanistan (61%), Mongolia (57%), and Uzbekistan (43%).

Regional Disparities

While all U.S. regions have witnessed an uptick in applicants, the Southwestern states have experienced a notably larger growth rate (+17%) compared to other regions during the same period. Conversely, the New England states have seen the smallest increase year over year, standing at 1%.

Institutional Variances

Applications to public institutions (10%) have expanded at twice the rate of applications to private institutions (5%) over the past year.

The level of selectivity in admissions has influenced the rate of application growth. Applications to the most selective institutions (with admit rates below 25%) have seen the slowest growth at 3%, while less selective institutions (with admit rates >= 75%) have witnessed a higher growth rate at 10%.

Standardized Testing

In the 2019-20 period, 55% of Common App members necessitated standardized test scores. Following the pandemic, this figure drastically plummeted to just 5% in 2021–22. Presently, only 4% of Common App schools mandate a test score for application submission.

In the 2019–20 cycle, 76% of applicants included a test score with their application. In the ongoing cycle, this figure has reduced to 45%.

The gap between applicants reporting and not reporting a test score has been widening since 2021-22, with an increasing number of students opting not to report their scores. This year, there has been a 9% rise in applicants not reporting a test score, compared to a 1% increase in those who did report a score.

This disparity warrants monitoring in subsequent cycles, especially with the recent trend of selective institutions reinstating standardized admission test requirements.


The 6% surge in applicants at this stage of the admissions cycle signifies a substantial increase, hinting at a possible continuation for another year.

Nevertheless, several factors may counteract this positive trend. Not all colleges partake in the Common App, hence their figures are excluded. The various challenges linked to the rollout of a revamped [ppp1] are causing disruptions in the timing and accuracy of financial aid offers, potentially leading to a decline in admissions among students with significant financial needs. Additionally, these statistics do not encompass applications to community colleges, which faced notable enrollment declines during the pandemic.