When Do College Decisions Come Out?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

You'll get your college decision depending on the type of application you submit. Find out more about important timeframes in the application process.

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College admissions offices send decisions at various points of the year, generally between late winter and early spring. You will receive a decision about your college application depending on the type you submitted. 

Let’s go over when you can expect to get college decisions and productive ways to spend your time while you wait.  

College decisions by application type

When you apply to college, you have the option (in most cases) of choosing between early decision, early action, and regular decision

  • Early decision: Apply and get a decision earlier than regular decision applicants. If you’re accepted, you’re required to go. 

  • Early action: Apply and get a decision earlier than regular decision applicants. You’re not obligated to attend if you’re admitted and can take time to consider your options.  

  • Regular decision: Apply sometime between January and February to get a decision by mid-spring.  

Many schools also offer rolling admission, meaning that they evaluate applications as they come in, rather than waiting for a set deadline to begin that process. In that case, you can often get a decision within weeks rather than months. Learn more about the process of applying to college and when college applications are due.

College application typeAdmission decision
Early decisionMid-December
Early actionMid-December to February
Regular decisionMarch to early April
Rolling admissions4 to 6 weeks after submission

What to do while you’re waiting for an acceptance letter

The period between when you submit your college application and when you get your decision may be a few weeks (in the case of rolling admission) or a few months (in the case of regular decision). You can use that time productively. 

Apply for FAFSA.

You don’t have to wait until you get your college decisions to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In fact, many schools recommend applying before learning whether you’ve been accepted so they have your information on file and can follow up with a financial aid package. 

Your FAFSA application helps schools determine what kind of aid you’re eligible for, such as scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, or student loans. Each year, FAFSA becomes available on October 1, and applications are due by June 30 of the following year. 

Keep your grades up.

Senioritis may set in during your final semester, but it’s important to maintain your grade point average (GPA) as much as possible because acceptances are conditional. Colleges and universities typically want to ensure that you’ve finished your senior year of high school and will usually request final grades from your guidance counselor before finalizing your admission. 

While many institutions won’t penalize you for a dip in your GPA, say from a 3.8 to a 3.5, they may question you about receiving a C or lower in a class. If your grades change significantly, some schools may withdraw your scholarships or even your acceptance, instead offering your spot to a waitlisted student. 

Learn more: What Is a Good College GPA?

Reflect on potential college majors.

Many students use the first two years of their bachelor’s degree to figure out what they’d like to major in. If you’re unsure which subject you’d like to pursue, spend time reflecting on your interests and values with our college major guide or review the lists below. 

You may also be interested in doing a double major, which involves finding a second subject to major in that complements your primary interest, such as business and a foreign language or biology and communications. 

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Receiving your decision letter

When you learn that you’ve been admitted to the college or university of your choice, make sure to review your letter for details about how—and most importantly when—to respond. Each school sets different guidelines. 

Decision date deadlines

Early decision applicants have already committed to attend the school of their choice if they’re accepted. All other applicants are generally required to notify the school of their choice by College Decision Day on May 1.

Type of applicationDecision deadline
Early decisionObligated to go if you get in
Early actionMay 1
Regular decisionMay 1
Rolling admissionMay 1

Deferring admission

Some students plan on attending college but first want to take a year off between high school and college. Deferred admission refers to a situation where you’ve been accepted to a particular school, and you notify them—usually by a different deadline—that you will be deferring enrollment for one year. 

Specific stipulations come with deferred admission, including being prohibited from enrolling in another institution during your deferral period. It’s best to check with your college or university about any specific requirements if you’re interested in this option. 

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