What is Early Decision? Three Questions, Three Answers

September 4, 2018

In this blog post, we examine Early Decision. We compare Early Decision to Early Action and explain why Early Decision is truly binding – not something that you can easily escape from.

  1. What does Early Decision even mean? Early Decision is an application plan offered by some colleges in which a student applies during the fall (usually a November 1st or November 15th deadline) and receives an admission decision by mid-December. This plan is binding, meaning that when submitting the application, the applicant agrees that if admitted Early Decision, he or she will enroll at that college and withdraw all other applications. The enrollment agreement is due around January 1st.
  2. How is Early Decision different than Early Action? Early Action is a much more flexible plan that is offered by other colleges. Like with Early Decision, a student applies during the fall (usually a November 1st or November 15th deadline) and receives a decision by mid-December. But here is the difference. Early Action is not binding. The student does not have to pledge to enroll at the college if admitted, and therefore it does not carry the stress of Early Decision.
  3. Can a student withdraw from an Early Decision contract? Technically, yes. If a student is admitted, and, upon reviewing the financial aid offer, the family decides it is unable to afford the cost. But do everything in your power to avoid this scenario! In many cases, the student must withdraw from the entire application process at that college and may not be considered for Regular Decision. This creates a sticky situation for the family and the college, and it creates great disappointment for the student, especially if the college is his or her first choice.

Early Decision plans are a wonderful option for the right student, but be sure to approach your decision with caution. Do your research and use our Early Decision Calculator (coming soon!) so that if you choose to submit an Early Decision application, you can do so with confidence. If your application is approved for admission, you will have something to celebrate.

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