Penn State Early Action Acceptance Rate & Decision Date

Founded in 1855, Penn State University is now one of the largest public universities in the United States of America, enrolling over 40,000 students

The institution’s reputation is primarily built upon its energetic student body and teaching, research, and engineering programs. 

Penn State also claims the largest student-organized philanthropy event in the world: THON. Many of Penn State’s clubs dedicate their fundraising efforts exclusively to THON.

Are you interested in attending Penn State? You can apply through a regular decision option, but applying through the early action option is much more favorable. 

First of all, acceptance rates are less competitive for early action applicants. 

Second, you’ll learn your admission decision sooner than regular decision candidates. Third, you can still apply to other colleges and universities. 

The great aspect of Penn State’s early action option is that it empowers students with the flexibility to determine their own paths forward in higher education. 

The college application cycle can be a confusing time as students more deeply investigate their academic options in connection with various career interests. 

Penn State’s non-binding early action plan gives students the space to change their minds and change course.

The following article will divulge details about Penn State’s early action acceptance rate, application deadline, decision date, and deferral statistics. 

Finally, we’ll share step-by-step instructions for applying to Penn State through its early action plan. Get excited! This may be the beginning of your relationship with your future college home!

Penn State Early Action Acceptance Rate

Pennsylvania State University
Goonsnick, Penn State Campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Penn State has an early action acceptance rate of 68%

This figure is auspicious compared to the regular decision enrollment rate of 16%

The admissions department has declared that admission to Penn State becomes more competitive each year. It explicitly encourages candidates to apply early, if possible.

GPA statistics and standardized test scores paint a picture of an accomplished cohort of applicants. 

For the class of 2026, the middle 50% of GPAs fell between 3.59 and 3.93 on an unweighted 4.0 scale. Those who submitted test scores ranged between 28-33 on the ACT Composite and 1270-1450 on the SAT.

Typically, other colleges and universities offer early decision plans that bind students to attend upon admission. 

Penn State’s early action plan does not bind applicants in any way. Penn State’s flexible early action plan affords students more time and resources to make the best decision for themselves. 

Some programs don’t accept an early action option, such as music, theater, or graphic design tracks. Other programs will stipulate interviews or portfolios. 

If the program you’re interested in pursuing extends an early action option, we highly recommend taking advantage of this nonbinding program. Early action candidates essentially have nothing to lose.

Penn State Early Action Decision Date

Candidates who apply to Penn State through its early action option will receive an admission notification by December 24 – the good news is that more early action applicants will be accepted than denied (or deferred). 

Potential decisions include (1) admit, (2) defer, or (3) deny. We’ll discuss deferrals in more depth in an upcoming section.

Admitted students will make up part of the early financial aid determinations starting in mid-February, as long as they have submitted their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by December 1

If you anticipate requiring financial assistance in order to attend Penn State, go ahead and complete your FAFSA and other necessary documents.

Penn State early action applicants will more than likely apply to other schools through a combination of early action and regular decision plans. 

If an accepted student commits to Penn State, it is courteous and standard protocol to rescind one’s applications from other schools where your application may be open or in review.

For many high school seniors, the ability to commit to college months earlier than regular decision plans allows them to concentrate their energy and efforts on finishing their high school careers strong.

Penn State is one of the largest universities in America and claims the world’s most expansive dues-paying alumni association. 

Those who join the impressive Penn State alumni network will be among talented leaders, artists, and thinkers in a range of fields. 

Notable alumni include actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Berg, and former prime minister of Bhutan Jigme Thinley.

Penn State Early Action Deadline

Penn State
Stilfehler, Penn State University Brill Hall 1, CC BY-SA 4.0

First-year applicants who wish for their application to be considered within the early action cohort should submit it by November 1

As previously mentioned, financial aid documents should be submitted by December 1.

The reality is that finances often impact if and where a student will end up attending college. 

Penn State’s study body is overwhelmingly from Pennsylvania, and the in-state tuition is roughly 50% of the tuition for out-of-state students. 

Pennsylvania residents who apply early action seem to gain the most from applying early action. 

While you’re waiting to receive your admission decision, it’s important to calculate the potential costs of attending college. 

Tuition for Pennsylvania residents is $18,363 annually. Add nearly $13,000 for room and board, among other fees, and the total cost of expenses amounts to $38,270. Out-of-state students will foot a bill of $55,848. 

Fortunately, Penn State offers an array of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study placements as part of its financial aid packages. 

In the most recent year, Penn State awarded $116.5 million in need-based scholarships and grants, $47 million in non-need-based scholarships and grants, and nearly $20 million in athletic awards. 

Speaking of which, athletics are a huge part of the Penn State student culture. Football, in particular, is a huge communal love.

Beaver Stadium is the second-largest football stadium in the United States, and it fills up every time Penn State plays at home. If you’re looking for a public university with palpable school spirit, Penn State is an excellent option.

Penn State Early Action Deferral Rate

There’s always a chance that your application may be deferred to a November review group, which would mean that you wouldn’t receive your final admission notification until the end of January. 

While the wait time may cause you to feel nervous, it is worth it to accept a place on any deferral or waiting list. 

Being deferred is not inherently bad – it just means that Penn State, in this case, needs more time to consider your application materials within the broader pool of applicants. 

What can you do while you’re deferred or sitting on a waitlist at Penn State? 

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to further persuade the admissions committee of your value to the school. The office of admissions does not accept letters of recommendation, so the only additional material you could possibly share is an updated or current standardized test result.

While it is optional for students to share SAT or ACT scores as part of the 2022-2023 application cycle, sharing results can enhance the competitive edge of a candidate’s existing application materials.

How to Apply to Penn State for Early Action

Applying to Penn State’s early action option is easy, and candidates have fewer supplementary materials to submit than their peers applying to other colleges. 

Before applying, candidates should consider which major they will select and review its eligibility requirements.

Next, candidates will need to select a Penn State campus. Penn State has 20 undergraduate campuses and an online World Campus, with University Park as its main campus. 

After making this determination, candidates will complete the Penn State application or Common Application and submit it alongside a $65 application fee.

Applicants are limited in sending additional materials. 

More often than not, most of the recently admitted first-year class members chose not to submit their standardized test scores, which stands in contrast to percentages at other similar national universities. 

Of those recently admitted, 37% shared SAT scores, and only 8% submitted ACT scores.

And that’s all, folks! No essay responses, no letters of recommendation, no personal statement…

The Penn State early action application process is relatively straightforward, and admissions emphasize an applicant’s academic prowess, as evidenced by their transcripts and cumulative GPAs.

As a reminder, it is absolutely acceptable to continue applying to other schools. The beauty of an early action plan is that it creates more flexibility and autonomy for college applicants. 

When you can solidify college plans by the start of your last semester in college, that creates much more freedom for devoting attention to academic interests, leadership opportunities, and other enrichment activities that will better prepare you for a collegiate experience at Penn State.

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