Important College Application Deadlines

By Jacqueline DeMarco · August 02, 2023 · 8 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, you 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, high school 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, these are the anticipated dates for registration and testing for the 2023-2024 school year. SAT subject tests are not necessarily available to take on all of these dates.

SAT Test Date

Registration Deadline

Deadline for Regular Cancellation

August 26, 2023 July 28, 2023 August 15, 2023
October 7, 2023 September 8, 2023 September 26, 2023
November 4, 2023 October 6, 2023 October 24, 2023
December 2, 2023 November 3, 2023 November 21, 2023
March 9, 2024 February 23, 2024 February 27, 2024
May 4, 2024 April 19, 2024 April 23, 2024
June 1, 2024 May 17, 2024 May 21, 2024

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.

💡 Quick Tip: You’ll make no payments on some private student loans for six months after graduation.

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 for the 2023-2024 school year.

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Photo Upload & Standby Deadline

September 9, 2023 August 4 August 18 September 1
October 28, 2023 September 22 October 6 October 20
December 9, 2023 November 3 November 17 December 1
February 10, 2024 January 5 January 19 February 2
April 13, 2024 March 8 March 22 April 5
June 8, 2024 May 3 May 17 May 31
July 13, 2024 June 7 June 21 July 5

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.

Recommended: Ultimate College Application Checklist

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

To be considered for federal student aid for the 2023–2042 award year, you can complete a FAFSA form between October 1, 2022, and 11:59 p.m. Central Time on June 30, 2024. Any FAFSA corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on September 14, 2024.

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 .

💡 Quick Tip: Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.

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 certain protections, such as income-driven repayment plans.

Private loans, on the other hand, come from private lenders such as credit unions, banks, and online lenders. Terms for private student loans are generally based on the applicant’s (or cosigner’s) credit history, among other factors. Unlike federal loans, private loans don’t come with government-based protections.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

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