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When are the application deadlines for college?

Published April 4, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Many prospective college students prepare for months to ensure their college applications are filled out just right. From preparing essays, getting test scores, and asking for letters of recommendation, it can take a lot of energy to make sure you have all the required information to complete a college application.

    But when are college applications due? Keep reading as we break down the ins and outs of college application deadlines, along with questions you may have about these deadlines.

    When are college applications due for “early decision”?

    Most colleges have early decision and early action deadlines that predominantly fall on November 1 for the next academic year. For example, if you’re applying early decision or early action to be in the incoming freshmen class of 2025, the application deadline will likely be on November 1, 2024.

    If you apply early decision, and get accepted by a school, you must attend. For early action, you’ll likely receive an admission decision by February of the following year, but you can take a couple of months to decide if you want to attend or not – your decision isn’t binding.

    Even though November 1 is often the norm for colleges who offer early decision and early action application options, this deadline can vary by school, so make sure to check the deadlines for each school you’re interested in and make a note of them.

    When are college applications due for “regular decision”?

    According to College Board, a national nonprofit that helps students with college admissions, you’ll likely see deadlines for regular decision applications between the months of January and February. Many schools have a deadline of January 1, if it’s helpful to keep a general deadline in the back of your mind. So, for instance, the regular decision deadline to apply to college for the fall of 2025, would be January 1, 2025.

    Just like with early decision and early action, this’ll vary by school, so make sure to check the exact deadline for each school you’re interested in applying to.

    When are college applications due for transfer students?

    If you’re considering transferring schools in the next academic year, you’ll want to keep an eye out for transfer specific deadlines. Some schools have the same application deadlines whether you’re applying to transfer or are applying as a first-year student, while others have different deadlines for transfer students. Because of that, you’ll want to check the deadline for each school you’re interested in applying to as a transfer student.

    Many colleges and universities have a transfer application deadline of March 1 for the next academic year.

    Common FAQs about college application deadlines

    When’s the Common App due?

    Students utilize the Common App to apply to different schools. This standardized admission application is supported by over 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities and allows you to share your personal information, essays, activities, grades and more in one platform to the schools of your choice.

    While the app’s purpose is to simplify the college application process, the deadline to submit the Common App to the schools you want to apply to is based on the individual schools’ deadlines. The Common App opens to students on August 1 for the next academic year.

    Can you send college applications after the deadline?

    Whether or not you can submit college applications after the deadline will depend on the school. Some will accept late college applications in rare circumstances such as a family emergency, medical illness, or natural disaster. You'll want to contact the school’s admissions office as soon as possible to find out if you can submit a late college application.

    Can you send college applications before receiving teacher recommendations?

    If you’re applying to colleges through the Common App, you can send your application to schools before submitting letters of recommendation. If a school doesn’t use the Common App, or you’re applying to a school via its individual application regardless, you’ll want to ask the school’s admissions office if this is permissible.

    Can you send college applications before receiving SAT or ACT scores?

    Whether or not you can send college applications in before supplying ACT or SAT scores with an application will depend on the school. Most colleges do allow students to send updated SAT or ACT scores after you’ve submitted your application, though.

    It’s also important to note that some schools don’t ask for or make it optional for students to supply standardized test scores like SAT or ACT scores with their applications.

    Final thoughts

    You may feel nervous when it comes to preparing your college applications, but staying on top of deadlines is one way you can feel more at ease. Because many schools have different deadlines, you may consider jotting the deadlines down for the schools you’re considering applying to months in advance, so you’ll be ready when the deadlines arrive.