Early decision (ED) and early action (EA) plans can be helpful to students — but only to those who have thought over their college options wisely and have a clear priority for one institution.
|Early Decision||Early Action|
|Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college.||Early action plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.|
Around 450 colleges have early decision or early action plans, and some have both. Some colleges offer a nonbinding option called single-choice early action, under which applicants may not apply ED or EA to any other college.
Early Decision strategies have come under fire as unfair to students from families with low incomes, since they do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers. This may give an unfair advantage to applicants from families who have more financial resources.