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Important College Application Deadlines

February 04, 2021 · 6 minute read

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Important College Application Deadlines

High school students don’t get enough credit for the many balls they have to juggle when preparing to apply for college. Alongside going to school and doing homework, they may spend time studying for standardized tests, participating in extracurriculars, and volunteering in their community, with the hopes of standing out in their college applications.

On top of all that work, high school students also have to manage the many deadlines that are a major part of the college application process. A bit stressful right? Especially when you consider the fact that applying to college costs money.

In order to make the whole experience a bit more seamless, we’ve rounded up important college application deadlines that are helpful for students to track. That way, instead of worrying about missed deadlines, they can jot these dates down and get back to hitting the books.

SAT Deadlines

While the SAT is not the only college entrance exam that students take, it is the one that is more commonly utilized by universities and colleges during the admissions process. This exam is administered by the College Board and is intended to measure the student’s readiness for college.

Typically, highschool students will take the SAT starting in the spring of their Junior year and ending in the fall of their junior year. Some students choose to take the test multiple times throughout this time period. The SATs are available to take each year in the months of March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.

While the official testing dates will vary on a year-to-year basis, the following dates are available for registration and testing throughout 2020 and 2021. SAT subject tests are not necessarily available to take on all of these dates.

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Deadline for Changes

March 13, 2021 February 12, 2021 February 23, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
March 2, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
March 2, 2021
May 8, 2021 April 8, 2021 April 20, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
April 27, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
April 27, 2021
June 5, 2021 May 6, 2021 May 18, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
May 26, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
May 26, 2021

When it comes time for students to provide their scores to colleges, they will do so when they submit their complete application. Application deadlines will vary by school, but there are some common deadlines worth considering.

For regular decision applications (not early decision), the most common deadline is January 1st. Many schools also have a January 15th deadline. The main exception to these January deadlines is the University of California system which has a much earlier deadline of November 30th for all schools in their system.

Some schools offer later deadlines in February, March, or April, but this is less common.

ACT Deadlines

Similar to the SAT, the ACT is a college entrance exam that colleges and universities use during the admission decision process. Also like the SAT, the ACT is designed to evaluate how ready a high school student is for college. ACT test scores are taken into consideration during the admission process by the colleges that require them.

Students take this exam during the same time period as the SAT, from the spring of their junior year to the fall of their senior year. Students can choose to take this test multiple times in the hope of improving their score before they submit their college applications.

Each year, the ACT is offered in the months of February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. The one exception being that there are no tests scheduled in July or February in New York, or in the month of July in California.

The official testing dates vary each year, but the following dates are available for registration and testing in 2020 and 2021.

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Photo Upload & Standby Deadline

February 6, 2021 January 8 January 9-15 January 29
April 17, 2021 March 12 March 13-26 April 9
June 12, 2021 May 7 May 8-21 June 4
July 17, 2021 June 18 June 19-25 July 9

Just like with their SAT scores, students will submit their ACT when they complete their college applications. The ACT automatically sends the students scores from the ACT test directly to the schools of their choice.

The Common Application Deadlines

The Common Application is a highly convenient option for many students applying to more than one college. With just one application, students can apply to more than 900 schools in the U.S. and internationally. The Common App even helps students manage the many application deadlines they may be facing.

In each student’s “Dashboard” through The Common App, they will be alerted of their application deadlines. To meet an application deadline, the student must submit their application materials by 11:59 pm in their local time zone on the deadline date. The Common App recommends submitting the application well before 11:59 pm in case there are any last minute complications caused by a technical barrier such as loss of internet connection.

FAFSA® Deadlines

When students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), they will be considered for federal student aid. Many states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine their own financial aid awards for students such as scholarships, grants, and loans. The amount of aid is limited, so meeting the FAFSA deadlines is super important.

The following deadlines are worth remembering:

Federal deadlines

For the 2020-2021 academic year the deadline is June 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT). The deadline for corrections or updates is 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 11, 2021.

For the 2021-2022 academic year the deadline is June 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT). The deadline for corrections or updates is 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2022.

College deadlines

Each college a student is accepted at may have a different deadline for submitting the FAFSA to their particular financial aid department. Students should double check this deadline for any schools they want to potentially attend.

State deadlines

Each state has a unique deadline which students can review on the Federal Student Aid website .

Early Decision Deadlines

When applying for an early decision, the traditional deadline is in November, typically falling on the 1st or the 15th. However, some schools now offer what is called Early Decision II, which offers students a chance to apply for an early decision but at a later date, typically in January. Each school’s dates vary, so it’s a good idea for students to confirm these dates with the schools they are interested in.

Early Action Deadlines

Students applying for early action can expect a deadline of November 1st or November 15th for the most part. As they are applying early, they generally receive an admissions decision early as well. This usually happens in mid-December.

Rolling Admissions Deadlines

Some schools offer more flexibility on their admissions deadlines by offering what is called “rolling admissions.” The difference between a rolling admission process and a deadline based admission process is that colleges with rolling admissions evaluate students’ applications as they are submitted instead of waiting until the official deadline to evaluate all applications at once. These schools evaluate applications as they receive them until they have filled all of their incoming class slots.

A rolling admissions decision essentially allows a student to apply anytime they would like and they have until the school’s decision deadline to choose if they will attend. Typically schools with rolling admissions deadlines have longer admission windows, which gives students time to apply to other schools.

College Decision Day Deadlines

While not all schools set their acceptance deadlines for the College Decision Day date, many schools do. Each year on May 1st is National College Decision Day and on this day students have to make an official decision about which college they will be attending (they can also choose to make their final decision before this date). They have to sign a letter of intent to enroll and typically need to submit a deposit to hold their spot in the incoming class.

College Education Financing Options

Once the college application deadlines for high school seniors pass and the acceptance letters begin to roll in, students and their families may begin to think about how they’ll finance a college education. After reviewing the financial aid package offered by their school, the student will have a better idea of how much they may need to take out in student loans in order to cover the costs of tuition and room and board.

There are two types of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans can be obtained from the United States government and their terms are set by law. As mentioned, students can apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA® annually. Federal loans offer fixed income rates and income-driven repayment plans.

Private loans on the other hand come from private lenders such as credit unions, banks, and certain state-based or state-affiliated organizations. Terms for private student loans are generally based on the applicants credit history, among other factors. In general, they may be more expensive than federal student loans.

Working with online lenders is another potential option for students who are considering taking out “>private student loans.

SoFi Private Student Loans offer an online application process. SoFi student loans never have fees. Students can even choose what type of interest rate works best for them and add a cosigner to the loan.

Check out SoFi’s painless private student loan process and flexible repayment plans.



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