Early Decision and Early Action Calendar

If you’re planning to apply early decision or early action, follow these steps to stay on track.

Junior Year


  • Take college admission tests.
  • Visit colleges during spring break, if possible.
  • Use College Search to see if the colleges you’re interested in offer an early admission plan.
  • Keep working hard and staying involved in extracurricular activities.

Senior Year


  • Download or request early decision or early action applications from your top-choice colleges and begin working on them.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers, your counselor or other references.
  • Complete and submit any early admission applications due in October by the college deadline. Take a college admission test if necessary. For example, you must take the SAT by October for your scores to be available in time for early decision and early action programs.
  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opens October 1
  • Register for CSS PROFILE, if necessary.
  • Follow up with your references to make sure they have written and sent their letters of recommendation.


  • Submit any early decision or early action applications due in November by the college deadline.
  • Follow up with any remaining references to make sure they’ve written and sent their letters of recommendation.
  • Complete and submit regular admission applications. You'll be glad you have a backup plan if you're not accepted through an early admission program.
  • File the CSS Profile and all other required financial aid forms
  • Review all requirements and deadlines for financial aid applications. Get all your documentation ready to send when requested.


  • If necessary, compare offers. Decide which school to attend.


When are early decision applications due?

For most schools, November 1 is the deadline for an early decision application. Other schools have their early decision application deadline set in mid-November or even later on December 1. Colleges with a November 1 deadline usually send a response to applicants sometime in December.

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When are early action applications due?

Generally, early action applications are due in the month of November. Schools with early action admission usually contact applicants with their decision sometime between December 1 and January 31. However, there are some colleges that wait until mid-February to let applicants know if they got in.

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Which schools have early action?

There are more than 300 schools that offer an early action admission option, including public and private universities. Most, but not all, states have colleges that offer early action admission.

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Can you break an early decision offer?

No. You can't break an early decision offer. If you submit an early decision application to a college and you're accepted, it's considered a binding commitment. However, there are circumstances when colleges may release students from the offer. The early decision agreement should explain the plan’s conditions.

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What happens if you’re accepted by another college along with your early decision school?

Because acceptance via early decision is a binding commitment, you'd have to withdraw your application from the other college. That's why it's important to consider the facts about early decision before choosing this option.

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Can you break an early action offer?

Yes. You can break an early action offer from a college. In other words, early action is nonbinding. Plus, unlike an early decision, you can submit an early action application to multiple schools.

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