Is It Too Late To Apply for College?

Man thinking with book in hands
April 26, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Missed the deadline to apply for college? Learn if you can still submit applications, find schools accepting late admissions, and get expert tips to strengthen your application even if you apply off-cycle.

Applying to college is a meticulous process that comes with a long list of tasks. One of the most stressful moments, aside from praying that you get the offer you want, is finishing and submitting your application on time before the deadline.

If you miss the final dates to submit college applications, it might not be too late to apply. This article will cover exactly what to do in that scenario so you are well prepared to receive a quality education.

When Is It Too Late To Apply for College?

Regular decision deadlines fall anywhere between December to March, so applying after the deadline is considered late. However, this doesn’t mean you should just give up as many colleges will still consider your application.

Many colleges aim to admit a large number of students who they feel will add value to their campus culture. This also helps increase their acceptance rate, making the college appear more attractive. Despite submitting a late application, the decision process is more nuanced than it might seem.

In almost all cases, colleges have deadlines for submitting applications. An application deadline is the last day students can apply. Because a school often offers different types of applications, including early and regular applications, there are multiple deadlines you can apply for. 

And, of course, each school has a different deadline. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check the specific dates of the schools you are applying to. Generally speaking, however, the deadline for the regular application is usually the latest one for students starting in the upcoming fall term. 

For applicants who plan to start school in the Fall term, the deadline for regular application usually lies around December to January of the same year. However, it can be as early as November or as late as March. 

But what happens after all the deadlines have passed?

student with book over face

If You Miss The Deadline

Missing deadlines is rarely a good thing and should be avoided in almost all scenarios. More often than not, once it’s past the deadline, the application is closed, and schools won’t receive any more new submissions. You will either have to find an alternative application option that is still open, or simply wait for next year.

Many schools are quite strict when it comes to application deadlines. The due dates are usually final, and accommodations are uncommon. Therefore, many people believe that missing the latest deadline for application options means it is too late for applications. 

However, there are still potential options for students to take to submit their applications without having to wait for next year. For example, some schools may extend or re-open applications, or consider you to qualify for admission. These depend on circumstances, if even possible. 

If you cannot submit your application before the deadline, your best option would be to find any information about late applications. The best place to start would be the school’s official website. If you can’t find anything that helps you, contact the admissions office. They could provide any options that are still open.

Another possible solution is to contact a department of your high school that specializes in helping students with college applications. Your guidance counselor is an example of someone you could go to for possible solutions about applying after deadlines.

If you miss the final dates to submit college applications, make sure to explore all your options. If you are unable to find the help you need, then it might be too late to apply to that school in this admissions cycle. 

Colleges with Rolling Admission

Rolling admissions is a college application process where schools evaluate applications and make admission decisions on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting to review all applications after a set deadline.

Therefore, you are welcome to apply anytime, and the college admission committee will begin reviewing your profile once you’ve submitted all the required documents. As a result, the date you get your admission decisions depends on when you’ve submitted your application. 

Below is a brief list of colleges that offer rolling admissions:

Rolling admission is not too commonly found for freshman applications who are finishing or have finished high school, but it is still possible for some colleges. Once again, doing your research is your best friend. 

Furthermore, rolling admission does not mean that you can apply as late as you want. If open spots in a class or a program fill up, rolling admission will be closed, and you could lose the opportunity to apply via rolling admission. Even though rolling admission technically has no deadline, you should still apply as soon as you can.

Colleges With Late Deadlines

female student standing up in classroom

Many colleges have application deadlines in January or February, but some schools accept applications later in the year. Here are notable colleges with late spring or summer deadlines.

College Deadline
Azusa Pacific University March 1 (priority application deadline); June 1 (final deadline)
University of West Florida Rolling admissions until July 3 (June 1 priority deadline)
Alaska Pacific University May 1 (priority); August 1 (late)
Central Connecticut State University Rolling admissions (May 1 for preferred, April 1 for international applicants)
University of Nebraska–Lincoln May 1
Aurora University No deadline. Applications submitted after November 15 will fall under the “priority deadline” and will be considered on a space-available basis
Creighton University None, rolling admissions

Applying later can provide more time to improve test scores or grades. However, financial aid and campus housing may be less available. Check with each college's admissions office for complete details on deadlines.

Although regular application normally ends around December to January for most schools, there are actually quite a few schools that open their application during the spring and sometimes even the summer. 

One place to go to when searching for late application openings is the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), a non-profit organization that publishes information about schools that open applications after May 1st. This is also a good resource if you didn’t get into any colleges that you applied to.

What To Do If You Are Submitting Late

If you’re late with your college submission, the first thing you should do is reach out to the admissions office. If you have connections at the school, contact them so that they can put in a good word for you.

Because you are not submitting it during normal windows, the application reviewing process can be a little different. You should check up on whether or not they’ve received your application and frequently take note of whether or not they’ve released your decision.

As for financial aid and housing options, you may get worse deals than you would if you submitted your application before the deadlines. But colleges will offer the best options available and help you select the best choices you can make depending on your circumstances.

Tips on How to Apply Late to College

student working with counselor

If your application is late, don’t give up. You might still have a chance to get in if you handle the situation professionally. There are several strategies you can try if applying to college after the deadlines:

  • Directly contact the admissions office and explain why your application is late. Emphasize your strong interest in attending the school and ask if they would still consider your application.
  • Look for colleges that offer rolling admissions. These schools accept applications year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Check if the college has availability in their upcoming freshman class. Some may still accept qualified late applicants.
  • Submit your application as soon as possible, even if incomplete at first, and offer to provide any missing pieces later. This shows your dedication.
  • If denied or waitlisted, write a letter of continued interest emphasizing why you’re a great fit. This could help get you off the waitlist.
  • Consider alternative options like community college or taking a gap year while reapplying next admissions cycle.

While applying late is not recommended, being persistent and exploring all possible options can still land you an acceptance letter depending on the school and circumstances.

FAQs: Is It Too Late To Apply for College?

For many colleges, deadlines are strict. Depending on the school’s policies, they may still accept your application. If you’re still unsure, we’ve answered the most commonly asked questions below.

1. What Month Is Too Late to Apply for College?

The latest month to apply for college is typically from late December to early March. Some colleges may offer rolling admissions or late deadlines extending into spring or summer for certain programs.

2. Does It Matter How Late You Apply To College?

If you submit a college application past the deadline, the institution may still consider it. However, if your application is far past the deadline, it will not be considered.

3. Does Applying to College Late Hurt Your Chances?

Applying to college after the application deadline can negatively impact your chances of admission in several ways:

  • Spots may already be filled by earlier applicants, leaving fewer spaces available. Popular programs and selective colleges often fill most of their seats before the deadline.
  • Your application may not get full consideration or could go to the bottom of the review pile. Admissions officers have less time to review late applications thoroughly.
  • You may miss out on early admission decisions or the best financial aid and scholarship packages. These are often given out earlier.
  • It shows disorganization and lack of planning, which reflects poorly. Meeting deadlines demonstrates responsibility.

However, it still may be worth applying late to some colleges, especially those with rolling admissions that review applications as they arrive.

4. What Universities Accept Late Applications?

While the options can change from year to year, here are some key universities that accept late applications:

  1. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) - regular decision deadline of February 1.
  2. University of Iowa - deadline of May 1.
  3. University of Kansas - accepts applications until December 1.
  4. Baylor University - accepts applications until February 1.
  5. Bradley University - deadline is February 1. 

For your reference, use online resources such as NACAC to learn more about which schools accept late applications. If the internet doesn’t help, you can just contact the school you’re interested in and get them to answer all your inquiries.

5. Are There Any Extra Fees For Submitting Late Applications?

Yes, submitting a college application after the official deadline may result in extra fees. These late submission fees are imposed by some institutions to process applications outside the standard timeline.

6. Is It Possible to Apply for College After the Deadline Has Passed?

Yes, you can still apply for college even after the deadline. Contact the admissions office right away, apologize for your late submission, and keep a close eye on communication such as email or phone calls. 

Final Thoughts

If you missed the deadline for college admissions, it might not be too late. You can still receive admission if you act promptly and explain your reasonings for a late submission. Furthermore, you can apply to schools with rolling admission to ensure you still receive a college education.

Submitting late applications should be considered a backup plan rather than a primary strategy. If, despite your best efforts, you've missed the final application deadline, there might still be hope. While success isn't assured, there remains a potential opportunity. Good luck with your next steps!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Thanks ! You're now subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get A Free Consultation

Speak to a college admissions expert about how we can help you get into your dream school
Schedule a Call

You May Also Like

Before you go, here are a few facts about us!
The Quad Factor: Working with us can increase your chances of admission by 11x!

The Best of the Best: Our team comprises of only 99th percentile tutors and admissions counselors from top-ranking universities, meaning you work with only the most experienced, talented experts.

The Free Consultation: Our experts would love to get to know you, your background, goals, and needs. From there, they match you with a best-fit consultant who will create a detailed project plan and application strategy focused on your success.