The difference between Early Action and Early Decision

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When you choose the term you are applying for, some colleges offer additional Decision Plan options, such as Early Decision or Early Action.

 

  Early Decision Early Action
What is it? The college commits to giving you the admission decision earlier than other applicants.  The college will try to get you a decision as soon as possible, but there is no guarantee. 
Is it binding? Yes. If you select Early Decision, you are committing to attending the college if you are accepted.  No. If you select Early Action, you are informing the college of your serious intent to attend if admitted, but there is no binding guarantee on your part to attend. 
Can apply for it at more than one college? No. You can apply for Early Decision at only a single college. Because you are committing to attend if accepted, you can't apply to multiple schools for Early Decision. Yes. You can apply for Early Action at multiple colleges. Colleges may inform you of a decision earlier than they inform other applicants. But this is not binding on your part, and you can wait until the official response deadline (usually May 1) to inform the college if you accept.
When is the deadline? Often this deadline is earlier than the general deadline for all applicants. Sometimes this deadline is earlier than the general deadline for all applicants. 
How do I apply? For more information, see How to apply for Early Decision. Check the school's websites for complete details about their deadlines. Some colleges automatically consider applications "early action" if they are received prior to the early action deadline.

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