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Word of the Day Wednesday: Early Action/Early Decision

Today's Word of the Day is Early Action/Early Decision.

Each Wednesday, MEFA will feature a Word of the Day where we'll highlight a word (or sometimes a phrase) related to the college planning process. This month, we're focusing on vocabulary related to college admissions.

Today's Word of the Day is Early Action/Early Decision.

Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) are two different timing options within the college admissions process. Both processes allow students to apply to college earlier than the standard admissions application deadline (which is often January 1st) and then receive notification of the college's decision earlier than other applicants. EA and ED application deadlines usually fall sometime in October or November, and students receive word from colleges on their decision in late fall or early winter.

When students receive the college's decision, they will be accepted to the institution, deferred to the regular applicant pool (and then informed of acceptance or denial in the spring), or denied admission to the institution. Once a student has been denied within the EA or ED process, that student will no longer be considered for acceptance.

Early Action vs. Early Decision

EA is a non-binding admissions process, meaning that a student accepted through EA may choose whether or not to attend the institution. Students therefore often apply through EA because of the relief that comes with a college acceptance letter. Knowing there's at least one option for college enrollment early in the process often puts a student's (and family's) mind at ease.

ED is a binding admissions process requiring the student to attend the institution if he or she receives an ED acceptance. A student may only apply to one ED institution, and, if accepted, the student must withdraw all other college applications upon receipt of acceptance. This option is designed for students who know, without a doubt, where they want to attend college next fall. Students who apply to a school through ED should also be certain that the institution is a financially feasible option for their family. Colleges and universities do offer financial aid through the ED process, but students won't know of the financial aid offered until they receive their acceptance, at which point they are bound to the institution.

Why does this matter to you?

Because of EA and ED's early deadlines, students participating in either process must be prepared to hit the ground running on their college applications as soon as high school senior year begins. Students must also spend the summer (i.e. now) starting work on their application and essay(s). If you're considering applying through EA or ED, be sure to understand what is expected of you in the application process. Pay attention to all of the deadlines to ensure everything is submitted on time, including any financial aid applications. And, most importantly, if you have any questions about EA or ED, or about college admissions in general, we're happy to help. You can reach us at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or

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