Illustration depicting people deciding when to apply Bob Scott

The early decision admission option is back for prospective students, 13 years after UVA ended it amid concerns it benefited well-heeled applicants who didn’t need financial aid.

This fall, students will have three admission pathways: apply early decision by Oct. 15 with a Dec. 15 notification date; apply early action by Nov. 1 with a Jan. 31 notification date; or apply regular decision by Jan. 1 with an April 1 notification date. If admitted, early decision students must accept the offer, send in their enrollment deposit by Jan. 1 and cancel their applications to other schools.

UVA decided to stop offering its binding early decision option in 2006 at a time when few low-income students applied that way and about 30 percent of each incoming class was made up of early decision applicants. It returns now because of demand from students who rank UVA as their top choice, says Gregory W. Roberts (Darden ’17), UVA’s admission dean.

What’s different this time, Roberts says, is that the choice is being offered alongside UVA’s early action option, which launched in 2011.

Early action gives applicants a chance for quicker admission, but, unlike early decision, also time to compare their financial aid award from UVA with those they may receive from other schools. Like regular decision applicants, early action students aren’t required to choose UVA if admitted and can wait until May 1 to enroll. The $70 admission fee is the same regardless of when a student applies, Roberts says.

“We never would have made this move to early decision if it meant canceling early action,” he says. “Together, they give us two good early application plans that appeal to different types of students.”

Roberts says applications will be considered with the same rigor, regardless of how prospective students apply. “Our advice to students,” he says, “is to apply when they believe they are going to have their strongest application.”