May 1: College Decision Day

What is Decision Day?

May 1 has been designated as National College Decision Day. This date represents the deadline to submit your acceptance and make a deposit to attend the four-year college or university of your choice.

In other words, think of May 1 as your deadline to decide on a college, submit the deposit, and register for housing.

How do I "decide"?

Simple. Most colleges use online portals where you received your admissions decision, check your financial aid, and even register for classes. Usually the online portal has a place to respond whether you will attend or not. It will also prompt you to accept your financial aid award (including what loans you want to take).

If your college doesn't have an online portal, they will send you instructions by email or mail, but usually emailing admissions and sending a deposit check in the mail is the strategy.

Don't forget to log in to the portals of the colleges that you decided not to attend & formally decline their offers of admission!

What happens if you don't decide by May 1?

Technically a college can take back its acceptance & financial aid offer and give your spot to another student if it doesn't hear from you by May 1.

However, as long as you communicate with the college, most will hold your spot if you are still struggling to decide (see below).

Do all colleges use the May 1 deadline?

Decision day only applied to 4-year colleges, and mainly to the more selective colleges in your state. All community colleges and many 4-year colleges have rolling admissions deadlines beyond May 1, and still accept students through May, June, and even July.

What if I don't have the money to pay the deposit?

Communicate with your college's admissions office & talk to your college adviser. The deposit isn't an extra fee-- it's just a small part of the tuition fee that colleges make you pay ahead of time to give them a better idea of who is actually attending in the fall.

Especially if your financial aid package covers all of tuition, many colleges will be able to waive or delay your deposit. The important think is to communicate your needs to the college. Don't just not pay it!

Celebration Ideas

Make a music video

Write a story, host a workshop for underclassmen, design a poster, organize your community...

You can do anything. Be creative!

Not ready to make a decision by May 1?

That's okay. There are several reasons that you may not be ready to make a final college choice by May 1:

1. You haven't received financial aid yet

Don't make any college decisions without comparing all of your financial aid awards! Sometimes financial aid awards are delayed due verification or other reasons. Simply notify the colleges that you are deciding between that you are still waiting to compare financial aid awards.

2. You are still waiting to visit

Visiting is important, and if you have visits planned for early May, you can again notify each school and ask for an extension on your decision.

3. Haven't applied yet

Depending on the college, it may not be too late to apply. Many non-selective colleges have rolling admissions through June, even July, and each year NACAC publishes a list of colleges still accepting applications.

4. You are just indecisive

Just decide! If you have compared financial aid awards from each college and visited each, then it's time to make a decision. Check out our Making a College Decision page and make your college decision!

A note about double depositing: paying a deposit at 2 schools to "keep your options open": Don't do it!