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New Haven - Yale University is closing in on its fundraising goal for a nearly $500 million project to build two new residential colleges in what will be its largest expansion since the Ivy League university began admitting women in 1969, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The new colleges will allow the school to admit about 15 percent more students each year and bring total undergraduate enrollment to 6,200, up from about 5,400.
Yale officials are hoping to start construction in February 2015 and complete the colleges by August 2017.
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy would not disclose the precise amount raised, but says Yale is close to reaching its goal.
The project received a major boost last year with a $250 million gift from Charles B. Johnson, a 1954 graduate who retired in 2012 as chairman of the board of Franklin Resources, the parent company of Franklin Templeton Investments. Yale said at the time that the gift brought it within $80 million of its goal.
Yale President Peter Salovey, who was inaugurated last year, said building the new colleges was one of his top priorities.
"I believe quite strongly that there are talented students very deserving of a Yale college education who aren't getting in," Salovey said at the time. "There are many."
Yale admits only a small fraction of applicants; the 1,360 members of the class of 2017 were chosen from a pool of 29,610 applicants.
Yale trustees approved the project in 2008.
Yale has 12 existing residential colleges and last built new ones in 1961. The residential college system, more than 70 years old, is designed to give students a small college experience within a larger university.
"The city embraced Yale's plan to expand in this fashion when the project was first proposed years ago, and I personally look forward to welcoming the additional students who will bring new and diverse talent and energy to New Haven," Mayor Toni N. Harp said Tuesday. "These two new colleges represent a significant undertaking for the university and we appreciate its commitment; this project is entirely consistent with other development in the city meant to keep moving New Haven forward."