Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision


Stanford offers two freshman application options: Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision. We evaluate applications in the same way whether you apply early or regular. We do not give an advantage to early applications, so we recommend you apply whenever you feel your application is ready.

Regular Decision

Regular Decision is Stanford's traditional application option. Most applicants and admitted students apply during Regular Decision.

Restrictive Early Action

Restrictive Early Action is a non-binding early application option for students who have completed a thorough college search and are confident Stanford is their first choice. Admitted students have until May 1 to respond to their admission offer, which allows them to compare financial aid awards across institutions. For those who applied for financial aid, Stanford provides an estimated award at the time of admission.

3 Possible Restrictive Early Action Admission Decisions

  1. Applicant is admitted and has until May 1 to respond to the admission offer.
  2. Applicant is not offered admission and may not reapply for admission in the same year.
  3. Applicant is deferred to Regular Decision and will receive a final decision by April 1.

Stanford's philosophy is to make final decisions whenever possible. As a result, only a small percentage of Restrictive Early Action applicants is deferred.

Restrictive Early Action Policy

  • Applicants do not apply to any other private college/university under their Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision or Early Notification program.
  • Applicants may apply to other colleges and universities under their Regular Decision option.


  • The student may apply to any public college/university with a non-binding early application option.
  • The student may apply to any college/university with a non-binding rolling admission process.
  • The student may apply to any foreign college/university on any application schedule.
  • The student may apply to any college/university with an early deadline for a scholarship or special academic program, as long as:
    1. the decision is non-binding and
    2. in order to be considered for the scholarship or program, the student must apply in the early round or by an early deadline.

If you are considering applying early to another college/university whose early application option does not appear to qualify as an exception, please email for clarification. In your email, include the page link to the early application option you are considering as well as the website description of the program’s application deadlines and requirements.


Updated on October 17, 2018 1:55 PM