updated 1/21/2009 4:53:45 PM ET 2009-01-21T21:53:45

A record 29,000 people have applied for a spot in next fall's freshman class at Harvard University.

Harvard's admissions office said Wednesday that the applications this year beat the nearly 27,500 people who applied last year. Each student is vying for one of just 1,700 spots.

Admissions Dean William Fitzsimmons says Harvard's generous financial aid packages have encouraged so many students to apply. The financial aid program requires no contribution from families with annual incomes below $60,000 and about 10 percent of income from families that make up to $180,000.

The estimated cost of attending the Ivy League school this year, including tuition, fees, room, board and personal expenses, is more than $50,000.

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