YPSILANTI (WWJ/AP) – Eastern Michigan University says it will enroll the largest class of freshmen in its 164-year history when classes begin next week.

The Ypsilanti school announced Thursday that it has already enrolled more freshmen than the previous record of 2,854 set in 1999.

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This year’s class also tops last year’s freshman enrollment of 2,595, which was Eastern’s largest class in a decade.

The school says efforts to restrain tuition increases, a new $90 million science complex and improved on-campus housing are factors in the rise.

EMU President Susan Martin said students love the access to faculty, small classes and opportunities for community engagement.

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“More students are coming to Eastern, and more are graduating as well,” Parker said in a statement. “Today’s students face many challenges, and we are committed to helping them succeed by supporting their academic success at Eastern.”

In addition to record numbers, this year’s incoming freshman class is better prepared academically. The average GPA of incoming freshmen is 3.24, up from 3.18 in 2012, and 3.11 in 2011. Average ACT scores are also climbing. This year’s freshman class has an average ACT score of 22, up from 21.4 last year and 21.1 in 2011.

Final enrollment figures will be reported in mid-September and the school says additional new students continue to enroll.

The 2013 freshman class marks the second consecutive year of record enrollment at Eastern. Last fall, Eastern had the largest incoming class of new undergraduates in its history, with 5,076 students.

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