CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ The popularity of the University of Virginia’s early application program continues to rise. The Daily Progress reports (http://bit.ly/1zR26FN ) that the university received a record number of applications before the Nov. 1 “early action” deadline. The 16,185 applications mark a 7.5 percent increase over last year. Early action allows students to apply early and receive an answer by the end of January. Unlike similar early application deadlines at other universities, applicants do not have to commit to attending the Charlottesville school if they are admitted. This leaves the option to compare financial aid offers at other schools. Officials say that encourages more low-income students to apply early. The deadline for regular applications is Jan. 1.