Most families do not realize there are several types of application plans offered by colleges and universities. Deciding which is best for your child, will help determine what schools to apply to, and the timelines that need to be adhered to when applying to specific schools. Before deciding on which type of application plan is right for your child, you need to thoroughly understand the difference.
There are two types of application plans, Non-Restrictive Plans and Restrictive Plans.
Non-Restrictive Applications Plans allow students to wait until May 1 to confirm enrollment. These include:
- Regular Decision is the application process in which a student submits an application to an institution by a specified date and receives a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time. A student may apply to other institutions without restriction.
- Rolling Admission is the application process in which an institution reviews applications as they are completed and renders admission decisions to students throughout the admission cycle. A student may apply to other institutions without restriction.
- Early Action (EA) is the application process in which students apply to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date. Students who are admitted under Early Action are not obligated to accept the institution’s offer of admission or submit a deposit prior to May 1. Under non-restrictive Early Action, a student may apply to other colleges.
Restrictive Application Plans are plans that allow institutions to limit students from applying to other early plans.
- Early Decision (ED) is the application process in which students make a commitment to a first-choice institution where, if admitted, they definitely will enroll. While pursuing admission under an Early Decision plan, students may apply to other PUBLIC (but not PRIVATE) institutions but may have only ONE Early Decision application pending at any time. 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. The institution must notify the applicant of the decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time after the Early Decision deadline. Usually, a non-refundable deposit must be made well in advance of May 1. The institution will respond to an application for financial aid at or near the time of admission. Institutions with Early Decision plans may restrict students from applying to other early plans. Institutions will clearly articulate their specific policies in their Early Decision Agreement.
- Restrictive Early Action (REA) is the application process in which students make application to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date. Institutions with Restrictive Early Action plans place restrictions on student applications to other early plans. Institutions will clearly articulate these restrictions in their Early Action policies and agreements with students. Students who are admitted under Restrictive Early Action are not obligated to accept the institution’s offer of admission or to submit a deposit prior to May 1.
If you have any other questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at www.Prep4CollegeNow.com or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!
 Excerpted from Fundamentals of College Admission Counseling by National Association for College Admission Counseling
Andrea (Andi) Frimmer, M. Ed.
Prep 4 College Now, Inc.