The University announced the new option for prospective students to apply early decision for admission to U.Va. in a press release Wednesday afternoon. Unlike early action — which is non-binding — early decision is a binding admission plan for students who know U.Va. is their first choice for college. If accepted, students must rescind their applications to other schools. The early decision application deadline for the upcoming admissions cycle is Oct. 15, and the notification date is Dec. 15 — these dates fall earlier than the ones for early action, which are Nov. 1 for application and Jan. 31 for notification. U.Va. previously used early decision but ceased in 2007 in an attempt to make the University more accessible for low-income students, who would have otherwise been bound to the University and the financial aid package they received, according to The Daily Progress. U.Va. only had the option of regular decision until early action was implemented in 2011 for students who wanted to be informed of their admission decision early in the process and be able to keep their “options open.” Early decision acceptances may potentially disadvantage low-income students financially, as they are unable to compare their financial aid packages with those of other schools. U.Va. is currently one of two public universities in the country — along with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — which meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for “all admitted domestic students,” excluding those such as foreign nationals and DACA recipients. According to the press release, Dean of Admission Gregory Roberts said the three options allow students and their families more flexibility in choosing which one suits their interests. Roberts added there is no advantage for admission with any of the three plans. “Our goal is to open the University of Virginia’s doors widely to qualified students with no consideration of their ability to pay,” Roberts said in the press release. Prospective students apply to U.Va. through the Common Application, which will be available in August.