tennis player serves in front of ‘Grinnell College’ sign

Early Decision Applicants

The Benefits of Early Decision

If Grinnell is your first choice, we encourage you to apply Early Decision. Whether you decide to apply Early Decision I or Early Decision II, you will receive your admission decision months earlier than if you apply Regular Decision, which means you won’t have to wait until the end of your senior year to know where you will be attending college.

The admission rate is also higher for our Early Decision rounds than it is for Regular Decision.

Admission Rate (four-year averages)

  • Early Decision I and II (combined): 53%
  • Regular Decision: 11%
  • Overall admit rate: 14%

The Early Decision program is binding. If you are admitted under either round of Early Decision, you must withdraw your applications to other colleges. You may not apply to more than one institution as an Early Decision candidate. We reserve the right to rescind your admission if we find you are in violation of the terms of this agreement.

All Early Decision applicants must read and sign the Early Decision Agreement found in the Common Application. You must complete the Early Decision Agreement form with your secondary school guidance counselor.

Early Decision and Financial Aid

Need-Based Aid

While the binding nature of Early Decision means you will not be able to compare financial aid offers among colleges, the aid package you receive under Early Decision at Grinnell is the same as you would receive if admitted under the Regular Decision plan. Early Decision I candidates must submit their financial aid forms by Nov. 15. Early Decision II candidates must submit their financial aid forms by Jan. 5.

If you apply for financial aid and submit all of the necessary forms on time, you will receive your financial aid package at the same time as your admission notification.

All applicants, regardless of decision deadline, are also encouraged to complete the Net Price Calculator, which will provide an early indication of how much and what types of need-based aid you may qualify for as an incoming first-year student.

Learn more about applying for need-based aid at Grinnell.

a woman smiles for a headshot on a balcony

After visiting Grinnell my junior year of high school, I knew that the student body, faculty members, and coaching staff were more than excited to welcome me and see me succeed on this campus. I met with some women's soccer team members and was excited that people looked at me as more than just an athlete. Grinnell was my top choice, and I decided that Early Decision I was the perfect way for me to start my Grinnell journey both on and off the field.

— Jane March '24 (Wellesley, Massachusetts)

Merit-Based Scholarship

*U.S. citizens and permanent residents admitted Early Decision receive the Grinnell Choice Scholarship. This is a $20,000 annual scholarship, renewable for a total of eight semesters. Select students may also receive an additional Founder’s Scholarship.

There is no separate application for merit scholarships, and you will learn if you have received a merit scholarship when you receive your admission notification.

*Students eligible for Staff Tuition Remission, ACM Tuition Remission, or GLCA Tuition Remission are not eligible for merit-based scholarships, including the Grinnell Choice and Founder’s Scholarships.

Learn more about merit scholarships at Grinnell.

Early Decision Deadlines

If you decide that Grinnell is your first choice and that Early Decision makes sense for you, please note our Early Decision deadlines.

Early Decision Deadlines, 2024–25
  Early Decision I Early Decision II
Application Deadline Nov. 15 Jan. 5
Admission Notification mid-December early February
Deposit Due  Jan. 8 Feb. 15

Early Decision FAQs

We get it: Admission language can sound like a foreign language, especially with concepts like Early Decision. Hopefully, the commonly asked questions below can help you better understand this advantageous admission option.

Historically, yes. Over the past four years, our Early Decision admission rate has been over 50%, while our Regular Decision admission rate has been 14%.

You should consider applying Early Decision if Grinnell is your first-choice school. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to visit campus and/or attend some of our virtual offerings and you feel like Grinnell would be a good fit for you.

There is also a strategic advantage to applying Early Decision. Typically, the admission rate is higher in Early Decision than in Regular Decision. We want to admit students who truly want to be at Grinnell, and Early Decision provides us with that opportunity.

Regardless of whether you apply Early Decision or Regular Decision, Grinnell will meet your full demonstrated financial need without loans. Additionally, domestic students are guaranteed at least $20,000 in merit scholarship per year when they apply through Early Decision; this is not a guarantee in Regular Decision. Finally, applying through Early Decision means you receive your admission decision months before Regular Decision applicants do, so you can wrap up your college search much sooner. 

Yes. You can switch to Early Decision any time before the Early Decision deadlines (November 15 for ED1 and January 5 for ED2). Please email the Office of Admission to request this change. You will then be asked to complete an Early Decision Agreement Form, which requires signatures from you, a parent/guardian, and your school counselor.

Early Decision is a binding agreement. If you are admitted, you are committing to attending (as long as you are comfortable with the financial commitment, of course), so applying to multiple schools via Early Decision is not an option.

No. We would never expect you to commit to an investment that you and your family are not comfortable with. However, we offer a Net Price Calculator to estimate your need-based financial aid eligibility in advance, and we strongly recommend you use this tool and feel comfortable with the results if you are planning to apply Early Decision. Follow the instructions carefully, and email the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about your results.

Grinnell meets the full demonstrated financial need for all students without loans. If your family has special circumstances or experiences a change in circumstances, email the Office of Financial Aid to inquire about the reconsideration request process. If your financial aid is reconsidered and you still find Grinnell to be unattainable financially, you may decline your acceptance.

You must submit your Common Application or QuestBridge application by the listed deadlines. We may offer an extra day or two for you to submit additional materials after that, but this is not a guarantee, and you should certainly plan to have everything turned in by the deadline.

There are two possible outcomes: Early Decision applicants will either be offered admission or denied admission. Admitted students will then be expected to pay their tuition deposit and withdraw all other college applications. Denied students will be free to continue navigating their college search and application processes elsewhere.

We do not defer Early Decision applicants to Regular Decision; if a student was not selected for admission in Early Decision, they will not be considered for admission in Regular Decision.

Students who apply Early Decision are eligible for the same need-based financial aid as students who apply Regular Decision. We are committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students without the use of loans. Additionally, all domestic Early Decision admits are guaranteed a $20,000 annual award. All Early Decision applicants will also be considered for additional merit scholarships.

To receive an estimate of the need-based financial aid you might receive at Grinnell, we encourage you to complete one of our estimated cost calculators. These tools only estimate need-based aid, not merit scholarship eligibility. Please remember that merit scholarships, including the Grinnell Choice Scholarship, are used to meet your demonstrated need (the difference between the cost of attending Grinnell and your family’s contribution as determined by the Office of Financial Aid). In other words, merit scholarships reduce the amount of need-based aid provided. And, of course, if you have any questions about financial aid at Grinnell, please email the Office of Financial Aid.

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.