In case you thought college applications weren't complicated enough already, there are up to three additional options offered for submitting the actual application. I don't recommend leaping into a decision, although these early alternatives can give you an advantage. (Namely, if you've been accepted into your dream school, you don't have to keep applying to other schools and can immediately start focusing on finding housing and choosing a great class schedule.) First and foremost, I urge you to consider how an early application could impact your financial aid.
There are three common types of deadlines schools offer for students like you who want this early edge: Early Decision, Early Action and Early Notification. Some offer a combination of these, while others offer only one or none of these options at all. And while there's a lot more that goes into each of your early options than just finances, here's a guide to how each of them impacts you in that regard.