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Should you apply early to college? It could affect your odds of acceptance but also your financial aid

Should you apply early to college? It could affect your odds of acceptance but also your financial aid


Annie Nova
October 4, 2023
  • Applying early may improve your odds of acceptance, but there are many factors to consider, especially when it comes to financial aid.
  • This year the delayed Free Application for Federal Student Aid makes it harder for students to determine what their price is likely to be if they get in.
  • More often, it’s college-bound seniors with assistance from expert college counseling who are using early decision to better their chances of getting in, but there are other resources that can help.
  • Further, students can opt out of early decision if their offer falls short of their financial aid needs, experts say.
In many cases, applying early to college can give you an edge.
By demonstrating a preference for a particular college, studies have shown, an early application can boost your standing, which goes a long way in the hyper-competitive world of college admissions.
“There is certainly an admissions strategy with applying early,” said Shannon Vasconcelos, senior director of college finance for Bright Horizons College Coach.
But students would need to act soon: Whether it’s nonbinding early action or early decision, which is binding, the deadlines for these types of applications are typically Nov. 1 or Nov. 15 for a December decision, or even earlier for rolling admission.
Key factors to consider before applying early
“A lot of people view early action or early decision as interchangeable,” said Eric Greenberg, president of Greenberg Educational Group, a New York-based consulting firm. However, “early action, in certain cases, makes no difference in admission.” Early decision, on the other hand, can “help leverage someone’s admissions chances.”
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