Early Action (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions regarding Penn State's New Early Action filing deadline. 

First-year, domestic students may apply for undergraduate admission to Penn State via Early Action. To apply Early Action, students must submit a complete application (the application itself, the Self- Reported Academic Record [SRAR]; and standardized test scores [official scores from either the SAT or ACT]) by the deadline of November 1.

Students applying Early Action will receive a decision by December 24 and will be part of the early financial aid awarding process beginning in mid-February, if Penn State has received the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by December 1. Possible decisions for Early Action qualified applicants will be 1) admit; 2) deferral of decision to the November review group (see below); or 3) denial of admission.

Early Action is a non-binding commitment by Penn State to respond to applicants earlier in the admissions decision cycle. Applicants will still have until May 1 to pay their enrollment deposit, or commit to Penn State. If you tend to stress out more than most and have been dreading the college admissions process, applying early action may be the best way to make your senior year of high school as enjoyable as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a deferral decision, can I change my major or campus so that I can get an admission decision immediately?

Applicants can request reconsideration of their application by indicating a change in your major or campus preference. However, we will need time to process the reconsideration of your application and will not be able to make an immediate decision. Therefore, we can only work toward getting you a decision by the end of January.

I have a deferral decision, is there a way to get an admissions decision by December 24?

Unfortunately, we are not able to make a new decision on your application before December 24. Therefore, it will be in your best interest to be patient as we work toward getting you an updated decision by the end of January.

Why did I receive a deferral decision?

Receiving a deferred decision as part of the Early Action review group was always a possibility. While we would have preferred to be able to make a final decision on all our early action applications, we need more time to review your application in the greater context of our entire applicant pool. This additional time will allow us to do further analysis on your application to ensure that we provide each student with the greatest opportunity for admission.

What does a deferral decision mean?

It means that a student's decision timeline has been deferred to our November Priority review timeline and the applicant will receive an admissions decision by the end of January.

Will a deferral decision negatively impact my chances of being accepted to Penn State?

Absolutely not. We just need more time to make consistent decisions on all the applications that have been received.

Why did you advertise a decision date by December 24 if you could not deliver a decision to all Early Action applicants by that date?

Like many of our peers, Penn State does consider a deferred decision a decision. Essentially, we promised to take action on all early action applications by December 24. Unfortunately, due to the high number of applications, and a need to further review your application in the context of all applicants, we were not able to admit or deny all applicants by December 24. This additional time will allow us to do further analysis on your application to ensure that we provide each student with the greatest opportunity for admission.

I received a Deferral decision. What if I don't have a decision by January 31?

You should have a decision in your MyPennState account by January 31. However, if that is not the case, give it a few more days for your account to update. It could be that we have made the decision, but it has not yet posted in your MyPennState account.

Where will I see my decision?

The first place to look and the best place for your most up to date decision is in your MyPennState account. For those applicants who live in the United States, we will also send you a letter in the mail. You will receive this letter a few days after your MyPennState account has updated.

Will the tuition and fee costs be included in the aid award?

There will be an estimated cost for tuition and fees and other educational costs, but final tuition and fee costs will not be finalized until the Penn State Board of Trustees meet in July.

What if I do not submit my FAFSA by the recommended date?

You will still be considered for federal financial aid. Because some sources of aid have limited funding, the December 1 date is recommended for maximum consideration of all sources of aid.

How will I indicate interest in Early Action?

If you are a first-year student interested in a program that is available through Early Action, you will see a question on the application that asks if you are interested in Early Action.  Should you fail to indicate interest and want to be considered Early Action at a later date, you may email admissions@psu.edu and include Early Action in the subject line.  The request must be made prior to the deadline of November 1.

Do I stand a greater likelihood of being admitted to my first choice campus and major by applying Early Action?

No. However, by applying early action you will receive your admission decision earlier based on a holistic review of your application materials.

Can transfer students apply Early Action?

No, Early Action is not available for transfer applicants. Transfer students will be evaluated on the established schedule for review.

How does Early Action differ from Early Decision?

Early Action does not bind the student in any way, whereas colleges with Early Decision obligate students applying Early Decision to attend that college that admits them.  EA students will have until May 1, the National Decision Day, to accept their offers. Penn State has an obligation to respond by December 24 to students who complete their application for Early Action.

What are the possible decisions through Early Action?

Admit: Applicant receives an offer of admission to Penn State.
Defer: Deferral of the decision to the November review group and applicant will be notified of an admission decision by the end of January.
Deny: Penn State is not able to make an offer of admission. 

Is there a disadvantage to not doing Early Action?

There is no real disadvantage. With Early Action, you will receive a decision by December.  If you do not choose Early Action and complete your application by November 30, you will receive a decision by January 31.

Do I need to submit the high school transcript to be evaluated in early Action?

No, you will be completing your Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR) as part of your application so transcripts are not required in order to be evaluated.  We do suggest that you get a copy of your transcript from your school counselor in order to complete your SRAR.  If you plan on applying before the start of your high school senior year (application becomes available August 1), you should get your transcript before the end of your junior year of high school.

Can I apply to a Commonwealth campus as Early Action?

 Yes. Early Action will apply to any of our 20 undergraduate campuses, but not the World Campus.

Are there programs that will not be available for Early Action decisions?

Yes, the Accelerated pre-medical/medical program, music, theater, musical theater, acting, dance, and golf management, require supplemental information, interviews or auditions that preclude the December 24 decision timeline. Likewise, World Campus applicants will not be invited to participate in Early Action.

When will the application be available for first-year students?

The application(s) will become available for students interested in SU/FA 2020 admission on August 1, 2019.