Early Decision II – What to Expect

Are you considering applying under Early Decision II? Or did you already send in your application and want to know what to expect now? We’ll run through the basics of this college application method and what you need to know for the coming weeks.


  • Early Decision II is binding.
  • Early Decision II follows the same rules and guidelines as Early Decision – the only difference is that ED II has a later deadline.
  • It’s a great option if your heart is set on attending a certain college.
  • Not accepting your ED II school can jeopardize your other admission chances so this is not a decision you should make lightly.

A student's hand reaches up to hold the minute-hand of a clock. They consider applying early decision for multiple schools.

What is Early Decision II?

Early Decision II is a relatively new type of admission along with the more traditional Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision application options. Currently, only a few colleges offer ED II.

Early Decision II has the same rules and guidelines as Early Decision. The only difference between the two is the application deadline. ED II has a later due date.

The Early Decision deadline is around mid-October to early November and the acceptance letters are sent out around mid-December.

The Early Decision II deadline is around early January and the acceptance letters are sent out around mid-February. This admission deadline is the same as the regular decision deadline. However, Early Decision II is very different from Regular Decision.

When you apply under Early Decision II, your acceptance is binding. That means you are required to attend that college the following fall if you are accepted by that school. You should not apply to more than one college under Early Decision II. You can apply to other colleges under Early Action or Regular Decision.

On getting accepted into the ED II school, you are required to notify all other schools you’ve applied to and withdraw those applications.

What Are Early Decision and Early Action?

Colleges often have multiple application deadlines. In addition to the regular application deadline, there are three early application deadlines: Early Action (EA), Early Decision (ED) I, and Early Decision (ED) II. Some colleges may offer only EA and ED, while others may offer all three early deadlines.

Early Action: Early Action allows students to submit their application around mid-October to mid-November, which is much earlier than the regular decision deadline. If you are accepted, you should receive your acceptance letter around mid-December. Early Action applications are not binding, which means, on receiving an acceptance letter, you can decide whether or not to attend. You can apply to multiple colleges under Early Action and compare financial aid offers before choosing which college to attend.

Early Decision: Early Decision also had an early deadline of mid-October to mid-November, but it is quite different from Early Action. An Early Decision admission is binding. You can only apply to one college under Early Decision and should receive your acceptance letter around mid-December. If you’re accepted, you are obligated to attend. You can apply to a second school Early Decision only if you get rejected by the first college.

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What Are the Benefits of Applying Under Early Decision II?

Improves your chances of admission into your top choice school

The major benefit to note that comes with applying under Early Decision II is the fact that you’re letting the college know you’re seriously interested in their school. After all, you have to attend if you’re accepted. When you apply ED II, you’re more likely to receive an acceptance letter compared to students who apply under Regular Decision. This is, of course, provided that the school considers you a good fit for their program and their institution.

You’ll Likely Hear Back Sooner

In most cases, students who apply under Early Decision II for a January 1st deadline will hear back from the college or university by mid-February (If your deadline is later, though, it may take longer). If accepted, you’ll know exactly where you stand come fall semester. And if you’re wait listed, it can help you plan for college accordingly.

What Do You Do if You’re Accepted?

If you’re accepted to a school and you applied under Early Decision II, they will send you a list of things you are required to do. You generally will have to send in the necessary information as well as a deposit. You also will be required to withdraw any other applications to colleges and decline any acceptance offers you may have received whether under Early Action or Regular Decision.

What Happens If You Choose Not to Attend Your ED II School?

So, we know that Early Decision II is binding but is it enforceable? Although you sign a contract committing to attending that college if accepted, the contract is not legally enforceable. However, you should know that opting not to attend can jeopardize your acceptance into other schools.

Colleges often share the list of ED and ED II students with other colleges. If your name is on the list, other colleges may discard your application, thinking you’ve already been accepted by another school. It’s important that you put some serious thought into applying for ED or ED II.

Things To Consider Before Applying Under Early Decision II

Applying ED or ED II increases your chances of getting accepted into your first-choice school.  However, tempting as it may be, you should weigh your options before choosing Early Decision I or II.

A major factor to consider is related to financial aid. When you apply ED II, you are committing to attend that school if you’re accepted. This is regardless of your financial aid package or the net price you have to pay. There’s no definitive way to know exactly what your financial award will be or the net price for attending that college until after you’re accepted. You’ll only receive your financial aid letter and the net price for attending the school only after you’ve been accepted.

This can put you in a difficult position if, after reading your award letter, you realize the school is unaffordable. Insufficient funds are not considered a justifiable reason for reneging on your ED II admission.

To avoid this dilemma, make sure of two things before you apply Early Decision II.

  1. Be sure that the school is your top choice of college and that you will attend if accepted.
  2. Consider your finances and make sure that you can afford the cost of attendance regardless of the financial aid package that the school offers.

Conclusion

Colleges may have slightly varying processes for admitting Early Decision students, so be sure to check with the admissions department if you have any questions.

Early Decision II is a big “decision.” You are agreeing, under a contract, to attend that particular school if you are accepted. If you have any concerns about the process, applications, or contract, reach out to the college as soon as possible.

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