October is an important month in your college planning. It starts with the important task of filling out your FASFA but also includes an important decision. Do you want to try to obtain admission early? For most colleges, the deadline for early admission is November 1st, that makes October the month to apply. Early admission offers some benefits, but the terminology can be confusing at best, and detrimental at worse. So here are the facts about Early Decision and Early Action.
The Facts about Early Decision
Early decision is the process of applying early to your specific college with the intention of attending that college if accepted. This is a binding agreement between the college and the student. It shows the college that you as a student are serious about attending their college. While it does allow the student greater opportunity to be accepted before the admission spots are taken, this form of early admission is “usually” binding.
The word “usually” offers a great amount of confusion. While many sources say that it is totally binding, others say that it is only binding if the financial award meets the financial need. (See our post on words of confusion.) Also, you need to note that it is up to the family to demonstrate that the financial aid package does not meet the need. So make sure you read the information for your specific college regarding early decisions
The Facts about Early Action
Another option is early action. “Early action is a type of early admission process for admission to colleges and universities in the United States.”(1) The greatest benefit of early action is the fact that it is not binding. Another benefit is that students are free to apply early to other colleges. The student will benefit from early action because it still shows that the student is serious about attending that particular college. The student also benefits from being able to compare the financial offerings from different colleges before making a final decision.
A new kind of hybrid option is the single choice early action option (SCEA). While not binding, it acknowledges the students’ willingness to attend that particular college by only applying there. The student is free to apply to other colleges during the regular admission round.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you understand your colleges’ early admission guidelines. These guidelines are usually available online and are always available through a conversation with your admission advisor. We think the best early admission option is Early Action since it allows you to compare financial offerings to find the best fit for your family.