USC announced statistics for the 2021-22 incoming class, narrowing its acceptance rate to 12% with a historically large pool of applicants. According to the university, the number of applicants rose by over 20% from the previous year, totaling at just over 70,000 applications. Last year’s admittance rate was 16%.

Of those admitted for the 2021 fall term, 26% are Black and Latinx. One fifth of admitted students would be the first in their family to attend college.

International students comprise 14% of the admitted class, representing 88 different countries.

This is the first year that prospective students applied to the university during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept students off campus since March 2020.

USC has also been continuing to deal with a series of scandals, including a recent settlement of $852 million for patients of former USC gynecologist George Tyndall. The university also recently made the decision to raise tuition by 2%, the lowest year-over-year increment since 1967.

USC is not the only school to receive a record high number of applicants for this cycle. Some Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia, saw a stark increase in applicants, forcing a delay in their admissions release dates.

UCLA also saw a rise in applications by roughly 28%.

An increased number of applicants could be due to the waiving of standardized test score requirements by many universities for this application cycle. University of California schools have eliminated the SAT and ACT requirements, while USC will be suspending the requirement until fall 2024.

Another factor that may be driving the increased application rate is USC’s financial aid initiative that offers free tuition for U.S. students whose families make less than $80,000 per year. Last year’s entering class was the first to benefit from this initiative but had to deal with complications and uncertainties with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

USC has begun vaccinating student workers and hopes to return to campus in the fall.