Space Still Available

Annual survey by NACAC, released earlier than in past years, reveals colleges are still accepting applicants and are not requiring students to respond to offers by May 1.

April 26, 2021

Every year, in May, the National Association for College Admission Counseling releases a list of the colleges that are still accepting applications for the fall. It's not a pure test of the health of admissions. For any number of reasons, not all colleges participate, which means the numbers may change from year to year. NACAC usually releases the list first and then updates it through May and June and July, as colleges are either added or removed from the list. Last year, 770 colleges were on the list at one point or another.

This year, NACAC released the first iteration of the list Thursday, and 195 colleges said they were still accepting applications, some for freshmen, some for transfers. That's 195 colleges that already know they will be seeking more applicants before they have reached the traditional date of May 1 for admitted applicants to reply to an offer of admission. That date is expected to be flexible at many colleges this year -- so NACAC asked the colleges how many of them had dates later than May 1. Thirty-nine colleges have already extended the date. Both lists are expected to grow significantly.

Most of the colleges on the list are seeking students. Agnes Scott College is seeking freshmen and transfer students, and has housing and financial aid for those who are admitted. The same is true for Alaska Pacific University, Austin College, Baldwin-Wallace University, California Baptist University, City University of New York, Duquesne University, Framingham State University, Goucher College, Hampden-Sydney College, Iowa State University, John Carroll University, Kansas State University, Knox College, Loyola University New Orleans, Michigan State University, Oglethorpe University, Providence College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, St. John's College (Maryland and New Mexico), the University of Arizona, the University of North Dakota, Whitworth University and many other institutions.

Boston University and the College of Wooster are on the list, but they are only seeking transfer students.

The colleges on the list include liberal arts colleges and professionally oriented institutions, public and private colleges, well-known colleges and little-known institutions. Only the most competitive colleges (the Ivy League, Stanford University, etc.) are missing.

However, administrators at these institutions stress that being on the list doesn't mean they are desperate.

Todd C. Burrell, director of undergraduate admissions at Southern Illinois at Edwardsville, said the university expects to have a larger class this fall than last fall. Students' plans are "more up in the air" than is the norm, he said. So "our message was that we were giving students more time."

To that extent, SIUE is giving students until July 23 to respond to an offer.

"In regards to accepting responses after May 1, we have maintained this practice at SIUE over the past many years," Burrell said. "We realize that with the diverse student population we work with as a regional public institution, we know many students may still be making their decision based on financial aid and their total costs. We do encourage a May 1 decision, but our message is that we will continue to work with students past this decision day. We do mention that our scholarships are on an 'as funding is available' basis, so again, we invite students to make this decision if they can by May 1," Burrell said.

One college, Queens University of Charlotte, has formally moved the date by which students must secure their spot in the incoming class from May 1 to June 15. Queens acted and publicized its decision in February.

Some colleges in the NACAC survey are similarly going for June dates -- Buena University is going with June 15, while Fairleigh Dickinson University and Hampshire College are June 1.

But other colleges clearly believe in giving students plenty of time. LaGrange College is going with a July 1 date. Lake Erie College is going with Aug. 1. And California Baptist is giving students until Sept. 1.



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