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Common App Deadlines

When you need to submit your Common Application will depend on whether you are making an Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision application. See below for more information on these different types of deadline.

For many universities, the Early Action deadline is 1 November 2019, and the Regular Decision deadline 1 January 2020.

However, these can vary between colleges, so it's best to check the websites of all the institutions you are applying to in case any of them state different dates.

Types of Common App deadline

1. Early Action

Students who apply to a school through an Early Action will submit their applications before the regular deadline and will be informed of their admissions decisions soon after (usually in January or February).

These students are not committed to their Early Action schools, and still have until 1 May to either accept or decline their offers of admission.

Students who are not admitted Early Action may be “deferred” to the Regular Decision deadline, though these policies will vary between colleges.

2. Early Decision

Early Decision routes work very similarly to Early Action, in that students will submit their applications before the Regular Decision deadline and receive their admissions decisions soon after.

The most significant difference between these two plans is that Early Decision is binding, which means that any student who applies and is admitted to a college through Early Decision is expected to enroll.

Early Decision applications normally require some type of signed form (such as the Early Decision Agreement on the Common Application) that indicates this intention to enroll upon admission.

If a student is admitted via Early Decision, he or she is expected to withdraw all other applications and submit the matriculation fee (or fee waiver) upon receiving their offer. 

Those applying through Early Decision are strongly encouraged to research the financial aid policies of an institution. 

Should a student who applies for financial aid not be offered an award that makes attendance possible, the student may decline the offer of admission and be released from the Early Decision commitment.

3. Regular Decision

The vast majority of students who apply to a given college will do so through Regular Decision, and they can apply via Regular Decision to as many institutions as they would like.

While the application submission deadlines will vary between universities, Regular Decision deadlines usually fall in early January, and offers of admission are sent out in late March or early April.

These students will then have until 1 May to either accept or decline their offers, and each student is only permitted to submit a matriculation fee (or fee waiver) to one of the institutions to which they have been admitted.

Submitting your Common App on time

The actual application process and the time frame for university must be well organized.

There will be many things taking place in your life while preparing to enter university that you need to stick to a schedule.  

The academic year of universities will begin every August/September. It is important to note that unless an academic program requires it, it is possible to start during another semester. It is possible to begin school in January or for the summer term, typically starting around May.  

“Planning to plan” and gathering basic information should ideally begin in Junior year. If not a strict schedule should be followed in Senior year.  

Use a calendar, or online organizer, to keep yourself on top of this fast paced process, and think about the following factors throughout:

  • Common App Deadline –  When looking at the common application deadline make sure to combine it with FAFSA or other independent scholarship opportunities to make it an easy process. Students should begin the Common Application the summer before they start their Senior year.
     
  • FAFSA deadline – This varies from state to state. Three deadlines need to be considered; federal, state and university. For example, in the state of Florida for the 2019 to 2020 academic year the federal deadline is June 30, 2020. The state deadline is May 15, 2018. The FAFSA website has an easy deadline calculator you can use. Yet, you must independently check your university deadlines.
     
  • Academic tests such as SAT/ACT  - Most students take these exams for the first time the Spring of Junior year. You can in general take these exams as many times as you want, but of course according to local testing schedule. Most students take these exams more than once in hopes of a score increase. Fall of Senior year is the optimal time to take these exams for the second time. Students should begin test preparation at least 6 months in advance in order to become familiar with the tests and define their strengths and weaknesses. For more information, see our individual ACT and SAT guides, as well as our SAT vs ACT information.
     
  • Researching universities and possible campus visits - Online research should start within the Junior year. Ideal campus visits are in the summer prior to Senior year or the Fall of Senior year. To get a good feel of the campus a visit is suggested. Summer is a good time to combine a short vacation to the college area, but it will lack a realistic campus setting since most students will be gone for the summer.  Fall is good because the campus will be alive, but you want to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with any current high school commitments or activities such as sporting games, exam schedules etc. For more help and advice, please see our Choosing A College section.

Further information

For more tips and advice on putting together your common application for college, please see: