Early Action (FAQ)

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

First-year 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 and the Self- Reported Academic Record [SRAR]) must be received by the deadline of November 1. If opting to include standardized test results (official scores from either the SAT or ACT) must also be received 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 Rolling admission 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?

First-year students who submit an application by Nov 1 will be considered for an Early Action decision, with a few exceptions to specific programs that may have additional application requirements.

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

Possibly! By applying during the Early Action deadline, you will be among the first students to be considered for admission to Penn State, when we have more flexibility in our decisions.

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.  Early Action 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?

With Early Action, you will receive a decision by December 24.  For those students choosing not to apply Early Action and for all domestic students, we recommend submission of a complete application, including all required materials, by December 1. Admission to Penn State become more competitive as the year progresses which is why we encourage students to submit a completed application prior to the Early Action deadline

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 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 Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD), music, theater, musical theater, acting, golf management and graphic design 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 2022 admission on August 1, 2021.

When will I be notified about my aid award for summer?

In order to be considered for summer aid, you will need to submit the 2020-21 FAFSA. If you have submitted your 2020-21 FAFSA and have scheduled at least 6 credits for the summer, you can expect to receive a summer aid notification in April of 2022.

Why should I do Early Action as a first-year, domestic applicant to Penn State?

You will receive a decision by December 24 if you complete the application (complete = application, SRAR and official test scores for students opting to include standardized test results) by November 1. This will allow you until May 1 to commit to Penn State, allowing you more time to determine if Penn State is the right fit for your college career.