What Does Rolling Admission Mean and How Does It Work?

Rolling admissions work slightly differently than regular admissions. While regular admissions have a hard deadline, colleges that have rolling admissions accept applications year-round. Here’s what rolling admission means for you, how to apply to them, and other things you need to know about this application process.

What Does “Rolling Admission” Mean?

What is rolling admission and why should you take advantage of it?

Flickr user Saad Akhtar

Most colleges use application processes like “regular applications,” “early decision,” and “early action.” All of these have hard deadlines for applications like November 15th or January 1st. They will not accept applications after these dates except in extenuating circumstances.

Rolling admission colleges, on the other hand, accept applications year-round. That isn’t to say there aren’t deadlines, but you won’t miss out on submitting your application to this school if you failed to remember a date.

What Are the Deadlines for Rolling Admission?

Although these schools accept applications 365 days a year, they only have room for so many students. As such, they fill available spots for students on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission officers will work to read over applications and send out decision letters throughout the entire year, only stopping if they’ve hit that year’s deadline or they’ve filled up the spots available.

There are a few deadlines students need to be aware of, however.

1. Priority Deadlines

Many rolling admission colleges do have priority application deadlines. This allows you to increase your chances of getting accepted as you will receive priority over all other students who apply after this deadline.

2. END-OF-YEAR Deadlines

Of course, if you want to attend college in Fall 2024, you’re going to have to apply in time to attend. Rolling admission schools will have cut-off dates for incoming students. If you apply past this date, you may not be able to attend the school until the spring semester or even 2025.

3. FAFSA Availability and Deadlines

Students also need to be aware of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) availability dates and deadlines. If you want to be in the running for institutional grants and colleges, rolling admission colleges usually need your FAFSA and applications by a certain date.

Pros and Cons of Rolling Admissions

There are several pros and cons of rolling admissions that students need to be aware of!

Here are some of the pros:

  • They can offer last-minute options if you received rejection letters from your other schools.
  • Applying early with a strong application can increase your chances of acceptance.
  • You have more time to complete your applications and can spread them out throughout the year instead of having them ready to go between November and January.
  • Your senior year can be less stressful with fewer hard deadlines.

And the cons:

  • Even with loose deadlines, spots may fill up quickly and availability can vary from year to year.
  • Priority deadlines may not work for every student.
  • Housing availability may be limited if you apply late.
  • Financial aid may be limited if you apply late.

Tips for Applying Under Rolling Admissions

1. Apply as Early as Possible

 Since spots fill up, the sooner you apply, the greater chance you have of being accepted. Submitting before the priority deadline could make the difference between an acceptance letter or a rejection letter.

2. Craft a Strong Application

That said, rolling admissions does allow you to have more time to craft your application. If you’re stuck between the priority deadline and a weak application, it may be beneficial to submit after the date. This will allow you to gather stronger letters of recommendations, retake the SAT or ACT, or improve your grades. However, you still don’t want to wait until the last minute or you could end up fighting for the remaining few spots available.

You should be taking your rolling admissions applications as seriously as your other applications.

What Colleges Have Rolling Admissions Policies?


Quite a few colleges have rolling admission policies! Here are just a few you may want to look into:

  • Iowa State University. All admissions at this university are rolling, with applications becoming available in July of the preceding year.
  • Indiana University Bloomington. February 1st is the priority deadline, and applications received afterward will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis if there is space available.
  • Michigan State University. February 1st is the priority deadline, but deposits and decisions, if accepted, are still due on May 1st.
  • Pennsylvania State University. Rolling admissions applications become available on August 1st, with a priority deadline of December 1st. Students must notify the school of their decision on May 1st if accepted.
  • St. John’s University. The regular decision application process is rolling as well and the priority deadline is February 1st.
  • University of Alabama. January 15th is the priority deadline and necessary if you want to compete for some of the more competitive scholarships.
  • University of Florida. The priority deadline is November 1st. Any applications received after will be reviewed on a space-available basis, but the rolling admissions deadline for the upcoming year is March 1st.
  • University of Maine. March 1st is the suggested application deadline, but applications will be received after.

What Else Do You Need to Know About Rolling Admissions?

Here are just a few other things you should know about the rolling admissions process at colleges!

  • Admissions decisions can vary quite a bit from school to school and program to program, but most students hear back within four to six weeks.
  • Rolling admissions are non-binding.
  • Depending on the school, you may have to declare your decision to attend by May 1st. Others may not require you to make a decision until just before classes start.
  • Many colleges offer rolling admissions including Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, and Michigan State University. Check the school’s admissions website or contact the admissions department to see if they offer this application option.

Rolling admissions can definitely give you more time to complete your college applications, especially if you’re coming up on deadlines. They can also be a life-saver if you weren’t accepted into any of your first-choice schools. However, it’s important that you take these applications as seriously as you take regular decision ones! They can still be highly competitive, especially as time goes on.

Want to learn more about the colleges that offer rolling admissions and what these schools are looking for in their applicants? Use College Raptor’s free College Match to get started!