Following an extraordinary spurt in freshman enrollment, Pennsylvania State University expects to admit fewer students next spring.

That means getting in could be harder.

"I am sure we will probably shoot for a target that is a lower number," said Clark Brigger, executive director of undergraduate admissions.

Penn State accepted 57 percent of applicants to its main campus in State College for fall 2016 - up from 51 percent the year before. Officials were trying to attract a larger class this spring than the previous year, but not as large as they ended up getting, Brigger said.

This spring, hundreds more students than anticipated enrolled at University Park by the May 1 deadline - so many that the university offered freshmen a $10,000 to $20,000 discount if they agreed to forgo main campus their first year and attend a regional campus.

By last week's deadline, 288 students - 3.3 percent of the main campus freshman class - accepted the offer designed to ease crowding.

The university had hoped to attract 400 to 500 freshmen, but Brigger said officials were pleased with the outcome.

"Every student helped to relieve some of that pressure," Brigger said.

University housing "is working on using every available space" to accommodate what projects to be a freshman class of about 8,300 at University Park, he said. Officials also are reaching out to upperclassmen to see if they would live off campus.

Penn State last month offered in-state freshmen $10,000 off their tuition and out-of-state students $15,000 to attend a regional campus. An additional $5,000 comes off the bill if students enroll at one of four regional campuses with available housing - Beaver, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, or Mont Alto - and live there.

For in-state students, saving $15,000 represents a little more than half the cost of attendance at the main campus.

Other undergraduate campuses that students can attend are Abington, Altoona, Berks, Brandywine, DuBois, Erie, Fayette, Lehigh Valley, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Shenango, Wilkes-Barre, Worthington Scranton, and York.

The Hazleton campus drew the most applicants, Brigger said, then Mont Alto.

Although the deadline has passed, Penn State will consider requests for the program through the summer, Brigger said.

Just how tight things will be on the main campus this fall depends on what happens over the summer. Typically, some students who enroll change their minds and don't attend; it's called summer melt.

"It's all just fuzzy math at this point," Brigger said.

Next spring, Brigger said, the university expects to admit fewer students to avoid a repeat of this year's over-enrollment and cope with a larger sophomore class as a result of this spring's spurt. Then the university could draw from its waiting list if there's still room, he said.

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