Hundreds of Options Open to Late College Applicants

More than 270 U.S. schools are still accepting applications for fall 2014.

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Open spaces at colleges are limited, so students need to apply immediately.

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The May 1 national response date for college acceptances has passed, but students who aren't enrolled in school for the fall semester still have hope.

More than 270 U.S. colleges and universities are still accepting applications for the fall, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's annual College Openings Update. The list, released Tuesday, shows which of the organization's member institutions still have space for freshmen and transfers. Students can also see if a school has financial aid or housing available.

The majority of the schools in the list are small, private colleges with enrollment between 1,000 and 5,000 students. However, there a few large, public institutions on the list, such as the University of Arizona, Montana State University and Illinois State University.

Both large and small institutions are likely to have limited spaces open, so students are encouraged to apply quickly. With more than 30,000 undergraduates, the University of Arizona is one of the largest schools on the list. But, the school only has a couple dozen spots available, says Kasey Urquidez, the associate vice president of student affairs and enrollment management and dean of admissions at the university.

Speed is the key for students applying now. Spots are likely to fill quickly and some schools may have additional summer deadlines. The University of Arizona typically stops accepting applications by June 1, Urquidez says.   

[Get tips on applying to college.]

"This time of year, there is a lot of need for urgency. So, we can’t wait six weeks for them to get us a recommendation form or transcript, so they have to try to get everything to us quickly and preferably all at once," says Alyssa McCloud, vice president of enrollment at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, which still had space available Tuesday.

Students should act quickly, but it’s still important to be accurate and present a strong application. Admissions officials say many students applying late in the game are typically local students who didn’t get into their first-​choice school, transfers or students who realized that they didn’t like their first choice. In many cases, these students are strong candidates.

[See admissions tips for students with bad grades.]

Limited financial aid is also likely to be a problem for students who are applying to college in the summer. Federal and state aid should still be available for students, but applicants should check with institutions to see if scholarships and other merit aid are still available, McCloud says.

Before applying, students should reach out to schools directly.

"Call the school in advance to ask if they have spots left and also let them know that you’re sending the application so that someone is looking out for you," McCloud says.

A student's best bet is to reach out to the admissions counselor that is set for the specific region.
Those who want to go to college in the fall should apply as quickly as possible and stay​ in contact with schools throughout the admissions process. Late applicants are likely to hear back from colleges soon, with enough time in some cases to participate in summer orientations.

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