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Deciding when to apply Thumbnail

Deciding when to apply

Early action, early decision, rolling admission, regular admission. When all you want to know is when to apply by, the terminology can throw you for a spin. What deadline is best for your high school senior? Are there implications on financial aid based on the chosen deadline?

Let’s define them first:

Regular admission – Deadlines are around January or February. Regular admission allows students more time to complete the applications than other options.

Rolling admission – Deadlines vary by school. Applications are reviewed as they come in rather than in a group prior to a deadline. Students are typically notified of the decision quicker than in the other methods.

Early action – Deadlines as early as Mid-October and November 1st. It is a non-binding application; therefore, you don’t need to enroll if you are accepted. Advantages include hearing back from schools earlier than typical, and possibly providing more time to evaluate financial aid packages.

Early decision – Deadlines are typically November 1st or November 15th, but can vary depending on the school.

Are there financial aid implications?

If applying early decision, there are risks if you are unsure if you are able to afford the school. Your decision is binding, and if the financial aid package offered is not suitable, you may lose on the ability to negotiate with the school. It is less clear for the other options.

Which deadline is best for my child?

There is no clear-cut answer here. My personal bias goes back to when I was in high school and used early action. Getting the applications complete by mid-November allowed me to enjoy the latter part of my senior year with a weight off my shoulders. A recent college admissions report[1] points to a higher acceptance rate among early applicants as well. However, this report doesn’t factor in that early applicants are typically stronger candidates than those that apply for the regular deadline.

A drawback to regular admission deadlines can be that they often come up quick in January and can make for stressing over the holidays. However, depending on the student there can be advantages to not rushing through applications. In addition, for some students with improving grades, it may be advantageous to wait to include fall senior year grades to boost credentials.


Do you have questions about college application deadlines and your high school senior? Feel free to reach out, I’m here to help!


All the best,


Andrew Holmes, Certified College Planning Specialist™




Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.




“College Admission Glossary: Learn the Lingo: Applying to College.” College Admission Glossary: Learn the Lingo Applying to College,

[1] Clinedinst, Melissa, and Pooja Patel. “2018 State of College Admissions.” National Association for College Admission Counseling.

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