FAQs | Early Decision

Dallas Hall

FAQs | Early Decision

Choosing the decision plan that's right for you.

What is the difference between Early Decision and Early Action?
Early Decision is a binding agreement which requires you to withdraw all other applications and attend SMU if admitted, provided you are offered sufficient financial assistance.  Early Action, on the other hand, is a non-binding program.  If admitted in Early Action, you are not obligated to withdraw all other applications, and can still choose which school you wish to attend.  While the Early Action deadline and notification dates are earlier than Regular Decision, you have until the national reply deadline of May 1 to decide whether or not you wish to attend SMU. 

Who should apply Early Decision I? 
Students who identify SMU as their top choice college prior to November 1 are encouraged to apply Early Decision I. If admitted, students are expected to enroll and immediately withdraw all other applications.

Who should apply Early Decision II? 
Students who identify SMU as their top choice college after November 1 but before January 15 are encouraged to apply Early Decision II. In addition, students who believe their application may be more competitive in our process after submitting fall semester grades and/or additional test scores should apply Early Decision II. If admitted, students are expected to enroll and immediately withdraw all other applications.

Who should apply Early Action? 
Students who identify SMU as one of their top choice colleges by November 1 should consider applying Early Action.  If admitted, students still have until May 1 to compare offers and respond.

How do I apply as an Early Decision candidate?
In order to submit an early decision application, students should file an application for admission with the application fee by November 1 for Early Decision I and by January 15 for Early Decision II. Candidates should check the box on the application indicating that they are applying under a binding Early Decision plan and submit the signed Early Decision Agreement Form with the application.  Because the Admission Committee releases decisions for Early Decision applicants within 4-6 weeks of the deadline, it is very important that the required information from the guidance/college counselor and teacher be submitted by the stated deadlines.

If I am applying to SMU Early Decision, can I apply to another school Early Action?
Yes.  Students may apply to only one Early Decision program, but this does not prohibit you from applying to another school under a non-binding admission plan. If you are admitted to SMU under the Early Decision plan, you must withdraw all other applications, pay your nonrefundable $685 Orientation, Housing and Matriculation Deposit, and attend SMU.

What is the difference between the Early Decision I and Early Decision II plans?
The only difference is the dates.  Many students make early college visits and know by November that SMU is their first choice school and are able to file an Early Decision I application. Other students apply Early Decision II because their decision to apply early was made after the Early Decision I deadline or because they want the Admission Committee to review new test scores and/or fall term grades as part of their application for admission.

When will I receive a decision on my application?
Students who apply Early Decision I by the November 1 deadline will be notified of the decision on their application by mail in mid-December.  Students who apply Early Decision II by the January 15 deadline will be notified by mail by March 1.  While Early Decision candidates may file non-binding applications to other colleges, if they are admitted under one of the Early Decision plans they must immediately withdraw all other applications and enroll at SMU.

How do I apply for financial aid as an Early Decision applicant?
Students who know they are applying Early Decision to SMU and wish to receive an estimated financial aid award notice must submit prior-year tax returns and register online with the College Scholarship Service and submit the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® by the Early Decision deadline.  You may file the CSS/PROFILE® as early as October 1. 

You will receive your finalized award notice once you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for state and federal financial aid and the CSS/PROFILE®, which determines eligibility for university need-based aid. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) priority deadline for Early Decision applicants and all other applicants is February 15. SMU’s FAFSA school code is 003613; the CSS/ PROFILE® code is 6660.  Please visit SMU's Office of Financial Aid website for more detailed information about applying for need-based aid and other financial aid deadlines.

If I am admitted Early Decision and am applying for financial aid, when will I be notified about my financial aid package?
Admitted students who submit prior-year tax returns and register online with the College Scholarship Service and submit the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® by the Early Decision deadline will receive an estimated aid offer along with their admission packet. This offer is based on information submitted on the College Scholarship Service CSS/PROFILE® form as well as submission of your parents’ prior calendar year tax returns. A final aid offer will follow in the spring, pending receipt of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In the unlikely event that information on your FAFSA varies significantly or your family circumstances have changed significantly from original estimates, your financial aid package may change. Students who do not submit the required financial aid information by the Early Decision application deadline will not receive an estimated award.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines eligibility for federal and state financial aid (found at www.fafsa.ed.gov). The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® (found at student.collegeboard.org/profile) determines eligibility for university need-based aid. There is a $25 cost for completing the CSS/PROFILE®.

Does SMU meet full financial need for ED candidates?
SMU seeks to provide the best possible financial aid package for each student in the form of grants, loans, and the Federal Work Study Program.  At this time, SMU does not have the ability to guarantee that full need will be met for applicants.  Please access and complete our Net Price Calculator, a tool that gives students an early indication of the amounts and types of financial aid for which they may qualify. 

I am interested in Music, Theatre, Dance, Studio Art, or Film & Media Arts (BFA).  Can I apply ED?
Yes.  Students in areas requiring dual admission -- admission to both SMU and to a specific Meadows division -- may apply ED.  Applicants in these areas should carefully note the audition and portfolio submission deadlines.  Additionally, students in these areas should note that most artistic scholarship awards are not determined until after all auditions and portfolio reviews have taken place.  For additional information please click here.

I want to be considered for the President’s Scholars or the Hunt Leadership Scholars.  Can I apply ED?
You may certainly apply Early Decision I or II if your decision to attend SMU does not depend on being offered one of these scholarships.  Separate from the need-based financial aid process, the President’s Scholarship and Hunt Leadership Scholarship selection does not take place until well after the Early Decision process.  If your enrollment at SMU depends on being named a President’s Scholar or Hunt Leadership Scholar, we would advise you to not apply under our binding Early Decision options.