First-Year Applicants

Regular Decision and Restrictive Early Action


Stanford offers two decision plans for first-year applicants:

  • Regular Decision; and
  • Restrictive Early Action

While we evaluate applications in the same way whether you apply early or regular, there are considerations that may make one option more applicable to you than the other.

Regular Decision

Regular Decision is Stanford's traditional decision plan. Most students and a majority of admitted students apply during this round.
You may want to consider Regular Decision if any of the following applies:

  • Your grades are on an upward trend;
  • You are taking classes in your senior year that are significantly more rigorous than in grades 10 and 11;
  • You are taking (or retaking) standardized exams;
  • You are working on a significant project or activity in the fall of your final year in high school.

Restrictive Early Action

Restrictive Early Action is Stanford’s non-binding early application option.
Restrictive Early Action may be a good option for you if all of the following apply:

  • You have identified Stanford as your first choice;
  • You have taken a challenging academic schedule through grade 11 and have done well. When we review your early application, it is important to have a strong transcript through grade 11 because we will not have your grades from the first semester of your senior year;
  • You have enough time before the November 1 deadline to write a thoughtful application.

Three Possible Restrictive Early Action Decisions

  • You are offered admission, and you have until May 1 to respond to your offer. If you apply for financial aid by the November 15 priority deadline, Stanford will provide a financial aid award by December 15.
  • You are not offered admission. This is a final decision, and you may not reapply in Regular Decision.  
  • Your application 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, Stanford defers only a small percentage of Restrictive Early Action applications to Regular Decision.

Restrictive Early Action Policy

  • It is Stanford policy that, if you apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action, you may not apply to any other private college/university under their Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, or Early Notification plan.
  • In addition, it is Stanford policy that you may not apply to any public university under an early binding plan, such as Early Decision.
  • If you apply to Stanford under Restrictive Early Action, you may apply to other colleges and universities under their Regular Decision plan.
  • If you apply to Stanford under Restrictive Early Action and your application is deferred, you may apply to another college’s Early Decision II plan.


It is Stanford policy that you may simultaneously apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action and to the following:

  • any public college/university with a non-binding early application plan or early application deadline.
  • any college/university with a non-binding rolling admission process.
  • any foreign college/university with a non-binding application plan on any schedule.
  • any military academy.
  • 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 after reviewing the exceptions above you are still uncertain about whether you can simultaneously apply to Stanford Restrictive Early Action and another college/university, please email for clarification. In your email, include the page link to the early application plan you are considering and copy and paste the website description of the program’s application deadlines and requirements. 

Withdrawal of Application

To withdraw your application to Stanford, please log in to your Stanford portal and submit the Withdraw Application form.


Updated on August 4, 2022 9:08 AM