Early Decision

Early decision allows students to apply early (usually in November and/or January) and get an admission decision from the college before the standard notification date. This is binding. Students apply to only one college for early decision and can still apply to other colleges under regular admission. If your first-choice college accepts you early, you must withdraw all other applications.

Early Action

Early Action is similar to Early Decision as the application deadlines are in advance of the Regular Action deadline (usually in November). However, unlike Early Decision, an applicant does not have to commit to the college(s) to which they apply Early Action. In most instances, students can apply to as many colleges as they want and compare offers of admission, merit scholarship, and need-based financial aid.

Rolling Admission

This occurs when colleges accept applications and then render an acceptance decision on a rolling basis. This is common with many state institutions.

Early Notification

This admission plan promises an early reply to an early application. The student is not obligated to attend, if accepted.

Restricted Early Action

Students select only one institution to apply using the Early Action option and the applicant must apply to other schools using only the Regular Action option. The student does not have to withdraw other applications and does not have to accept or refuse the EA offer of admission until May 1.

Regular Decision

This pertains to applications that are not submitted under any of the other specialized categories. Most deadlines fall near January 1st of the senior year. Notification occurs up until mid April.


A list of qualified students who may be offered admission by a college at a later date, if space becomes available. It is not a guarantee of a later acceptance.


The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is a practice test that helps students prepare for the SAT I. Colleges do not see a student's PSAT/NMSQT score. A student who does very well on this test, and who meets other academic performance criteria, might qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program


The Scholastic Assessment Test is designed to measure a student's critical reading, mathematical, and writing aptitude. The score range is 200-800 on each section.


Subject Tests measure a student's knowledge of skills in a particular area as well as the ability to apply the knowledge and skills. Some spoken language tests are administered in November only. Many selective colleges require the SAT II for admission.


This standardized test is issued by the American College Test Program and is divided into four parts: English usage, mathematics, social science reading, and science reasoning. Score range is 1-36. There is an optional writing component.

Admissions Decision

Colleges will usually reply: (1) accept, (2) deny, (3) defer (you have not been accepted or denied as an Early Decision or Early Action candidate so you application will be reviewed in the Regular Decision pool of applicants), (4) wait-list, or (5) admit/deny.


Advanced Placement courses are considered college-level courses given in high school for possible college credit. National exams given in May are graded on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Universal Response Date

May 1 is the date by which a student must give all accepting colleges a definite "yes" or "no" and send a deposit to the final-choice college.

Deferred Entrance

This term refers to an admission plan that allows an accepted student to postpone entrance to a college for a year, while retaining a guarantee of enrollment. During that year the student may work or travel but may not enroll at another college.

Demonstrated Need

This is the financial aid assessment based on the cost of attending a college or university, minus the family's estimated contribution (as determined either by federal or institutional methodology).

Merit-based Financial Aid

Financial aid, including scholarships, that is awarded based on a candidate's merit (i.e. academic, special talent, competition) excluding athletic aid. May or may not take into consideration financial need of the candidate.

Need-base Financial Aid

Aid offered by colleges and the federal government to bridge the gap between college cost and the family's ability to pay as determined by the CSS Profile, FAFSA, and/or the college Financial Aid Office. A typical aid package is divided into three parts: grant (gift money you do not pay back), loan, and work-study (campus job).

Need-blind Admission

Students are admitted on the basis of academic and personal criteria, regardless of ability to pay. This does not include international students.

Need-conscious (or need-aware, need-sensitive) Admission

Financial need might be a factor in the admission decision.