Penn student fencer in a training facility

Student Athletes

We love our student athletes and we're proud of our Ivy League tradition! If you plan to apply as a student athlete, here are some things to keep in mind.

The Ivy League is an association of eight institutions of higher education, established in 1954 primarily for the purpose of fostering amateurism in athletics. Although the Ivy League institutions are similar in many respects, each member institution makes its own independent admission decisions according to its own particular admissions policy.

The transition between secondary school and institutions of higher education is complex, so the institutions have agreed to simplify the process through more uniform admissions procedures. Below is a summary of the procedures under which we are operating, which are shared to provide prospective students with a better understanding of the process.

- Ivy League Deans and Directors of Admission and Directors of Athletics


Timing of Decisions

Ivy League institutions mail admission decision letters in mid-December and late March. If you want notification of our decision in December, you must apply by early November and complete your application with supporting materials very soon after. You may not file more than one Early Decision or Early Action application within the Ivy League.

Early Application: December Notification

Under December notification, you may be advised that you have been granted or denied admission or that a final decision has been deferred until the late March notification date. Two plans are offered according to individual institutional policy.

Early Decision

The College Board-approved Early Decision Plan, which is offered by Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania, requires a prior commitment to matriculate. Financial aid awards for those qualifying for financial assistance will normally be announced in full detail at the same time as admission decisions. If you receive admission and an adequate financial award under the Early Decision Plan, you will be required to accept that offer of admission and withdraw all applications to other colleges or universities. All Ivy League institutions will honor any required commitment to matriculate that has been made to another college under this plan.

Early Action

A Single Choice Early Action Plan is offered by Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. The plan does not require a commitment to matriculate, and you may apply to other colleges under those colleges’ regular admission programs (spring notification of final admission decision) but not to another private institution’s Early Action or Early Decision program.

Regular Decision: Notification in the Spring

Common Notification Date

On a common date, usually in late March, applicants to Ivy League institutions are notified of admission decisions and financial aid awards. Letters are mailed beginning in February for the Schools of Hotel Administration and Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell.

Common Reply Date

If you’re admitted under the regular decision process to any of the Ivy League institutions, you may take until the Common Reply Date of May 1st to announce your decision to accept or decline the offer of admission. By that date, all admitted candidates must confirm their single choice in writing.

Waiting Lists

 You are able to stay on active waiting lists and withdraw promptly from your original college choice if you receive waiting list acceptance to another college or university. Keep in mind, though, that the Ivy League institutions reserve their right to rescind your acceptance decisions if you make commitments to and hold confirmed places at more than one institution at the same time. If you choose to stay on an active waiting list after May 1st, you will normally receive a final response no later than July 1st.

Early Evaluation

Admissions offices may choose to advise you in writing of the probability of admission (e.g., likely, possible, unlikely), no earlier than October 1st of your senior year in high school.

These “likely letters” have the same effect as letters of admission. As long as you maintain your academic and personal record as detailed in your application, we will send a formal admission offer on the appropriate notification date. Students that have received a likely letter still need to apply through Common App or the Coalition Application through the Early Decision or Regular Decision programs. A student’s acceptance is not final until they have received a decision from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

If you receive one or more such written communications and you have made a decision to matriculate at one institution, you are encouraged (but not required) to notify all other institutions, and to withdraw all other applications, as quickly as possible.

Likely Letters to Student-Athletes
From October 1st through March 15th of your senior year, an Admissions Office may issue likely letters to recruited student-athlete applicants who have submitted all required application materials.

Preliminary Feedback

Ivy League Admissions Offices will provide feedback to coaches on an individual student’s application no earlier than July 1st, following the junior year in high school.

Communications with Coaches

Coaches may communicate to the Admissions Office their support for athletic recruits. You are encouraged to ask coaches directly about their level of interest in you as a potential athletic recruit. A coach may take into account your level of interest when they’re deciding how to support your application, so be prepared for coaches to inquire about your level of interest, too.

While a coach may ask whether or not his or her school is your top choice, a coach may not require you to refrain from visiting or applying to other schools, or to withdraw applications to other schools, as a condition for support during the admissions process.

Only the Admissions Office has the authority to make or communicate an admissions decision. Communications regarding admissions status provided by coaches, whether verbally or in writing, don’t constitute binding institutional commitments.


Financial Aid Policies

Need-Based Financial Aid

All the Ivy League institutions follow the common policy that any financial aid for student-athletes will be awarded and renewed on the sole basis of economic need with no differentiation in amount or in kind (e.g., packaging) based on athletic ability or participation, provided that each school shall apply its own standard of economic need. The official award of aid may only be made at or subsequent to the time of admission.

Awarding of Financial Aid

Only the Office of Financial Aid has the authority to award financial aid on behalf of the institution, and you should rely only on formal communications from these offices. No suggestion that financial aid may be available that comes from anyone else associated with the institution is binding on the institution. You should not consider or accept an offer of financial help from an alumnus, and any such offer should be reported immediately to the Office of Financial Aid.

Participating Institutions

Brown University           Harvard University

Columbia University     University of Pennsylvania

Cornell University          Princeton University

Dartmouth College        Yale University