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It’s easy to lose track of key deadlines while your busy completing apps and schoolwork. Don’t let it happen! While many schools have different deadlines, here are some key dates of which you should be aware. Be sure to check with every school on your list and put dates in a planner or calendar, too.

 

 

Early Decision and Early Action

Most colleges have early decision (ED) and early action (EA) deadlines of October 15, November 1, or November 15. However, others have different deadlines; some may be as late as December. Check out Your Complete List of Early Action Deadlines for Every EA College if you’re applying anywhere EA.

 

Of course, you should also check with the schools on your list to make sure you’re on top of individual deadlines. By the beginning of the school year, you will need to decide if you want to commit to applying anywhere ED. ED is binding, meaning that if you’re accepted, you will be obligated to matriculate at the school in question, so you should make sure it’s the college you absolutely want to attend should you go this route. Learn more about making this decision in Is Applying Early Decision Right for You?.

 

Some schools offer restricted early action (REA), which is similar to early action in that your decision is non-binding, but you won’t be able to apply to other schools under the early action plan. Find out about the distinctions among early plans in EA vs. ED vs. REA.

 

 

Early Decision II and Regular Decision

A number of selective schools, including New York University, Bowdoin, Tufts, and Wesleyan, offer early decision II. Under this plan, you will apply at a normal regular decision application deadline, but if you are admitted, you must enroll at this school. This allows you to demonstrate that you’re committed without having to complete your application early. Common regular decision and ED II deadlines are January 1 and 15 and February 1.

 

If you get in to your first choice ED, you will have to withdraw your other applications, so you may want to wait until you hear back to send your other applications (but do make sure you meet the deadlines).

 

Some schools have rolling admission. That means the school has a large window during which it will accept applications, and you’ll generally hear back within in a few weeks. Even if a school has rolling admission, you shouldn’t delay applying too long, because the risk is that the class will be filled before you have a chance to apply.

 

Be sure to stay on top of the deadlines of individual schools, which may have separate deadlines for supplementary materials and completing school-specific supplements aside from Common Application or Coalition Application deadlines.

 

 

Scholarships

Scholarships can go a long way in supplementing your financial aid. Since deadlines may occur throughout the year, it’s a good idea to start researching and making a list of individual scholarship deadlines early. Start doing your research junior year, if not earlier. You can find some important scholarship deadlines here.

 

 

Transfer Application

Most colleges have individual applications for transfers, but some now accept the Common App. Transfer deadlines vary by school. Most commonly, application deadlines occur between February and April for fall semester and between October and December for spring semester.

 

You’ll generally hear back fairly quickly—within a month or two—but, again, you’ll need to check with the individual schools for information.

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FAFSA

While the FAFSA is available for between October 1 of the previous year until June 30 of a given school year, most colleges have individual deadlines for completing your FAFSA in order for them to offer you a financial aid package. Check with individual colleges and states to confirm their deadlines for submitting your financial forms.

 

It’s a good idea to submit it sooner rather than later to allow enough time; you want to be able to compare and leverage offers. Start gathering your documents in advance. Learn more about the timeline of the financial aid process in 5 Things to Do After You Fill Out the FAFSA and Understanding College Costs: FAQs About Financial Aid in Practice.

 

 

Choosing a College

Most colleges expect you to put down a deposit by May 1, although, once again, deadlines may vary. That means you need to carefully consider your options in the month or so before then. Note that it is possible to be accepted off of a waitlist later in the summer, but you’ll likely need to put down a deposit at another school first, since you can’t count on getting off the waitlist.

 

This is a financial decision you and your parents will need to make together. If you’re unhappy with your offers, take steps to move past it; chances are, you’ll thrive wherever you end up. Make pro/con lists to help you settle on a school.

 

 

Staying on Top of Deadlines

Don’t let deadlines sneak up on you. Make a schedule and fill out a planner with key dates to prevent you from falling behind. It’s also a good idea to share your deadlines with parents and others to help you stay on track.

 

For more advice, read 13 Application Goals for This Fall.

 

Looking for help with your college applications? Check out our College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully  pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine