ApplyInsights: How Much Does LOA Turnaround Time Impact Tuition Deposit Rate?

It’s generally accepted that an international student is less likely to enroll at an institution the longer they wait to receive their letter of acceptance (LOA). But just how much can a long LOA turnaround time impact whether a student ultimately chooses to study at a school? ApplyBoard analyzed the data, and it’s worse than you might think. Delayed LOAs result in reduced tuition deposit rates by up to 47%.

Key Insights at a Glance

  • For Canadian colleges, international students outside of India who receive their LOA within one week of applying are 28% more likely to make a tuition deposit compared to those who receive their LOA after five weeks.
  • For Canadian universities, there is a 30% difference in tuition deposit rate between students outside of India who receive their LOA within one week and those after five weeks.
  • Indian students are more patient with LOAs from universities than colleges.

We mined ApplyBoard’s internal data of more than 300,000 students we’ve helped study abroad. This article focuses on the Canadian market, but we believe the results generally hold for others as well. By leveraging our findings, institutions can distinguish themselves from competitors and attract more students.

LOA Turnaround Time and Tuition Deposit Rate at Canadian Public Colleges

Students from India dominate the study abroad market in Canada. For this reason, our analysis looks separately at India and all markets outside of India. In the graph below, we can see that tuition deposit rates for Indian students start to decline immediately after the one-week benchmark for LOA receipt.1

When Indian students receive their LOA within two weeks, they are 20% less likely to make a tuition deposit compared to students who receive their LOA within one week. This decline sharpens from there, leading to a 47% difference when the LOA takes over five weeks to arrive compared to one week.

Students outside of India show a little more willingness to wait patiently. But, this rate trends downward from the three-week benchmark. Students who receive their LOA over five weeks from application date are 28% less likely to make a tuition deposit compared to those who receive their LOA within three weeks.

LOA Turnaround Time and Tuition Deposits at Canadian Public Universities

Surprisingly, the trends at Canada’s public universities reverse from those above. In the following chart, we can see that in markets outside of India, tuition deposit rates immediately decline after a one-week wait for an LOA. Indian students are more patient in this sector, but there is still a sharp decline after the five-week benchmark.

When an LOA arrives just two weeks after applying, students outside of India are 7% less likely to make a tuition deposit compared to students who receive their LOA within one week. This difference gets as high as 30% once the LOA takes more than three weeks to arrive.

Indian students show a little more willingness to wait patiently for LOAs from Canadian universities. Surprisingly, tuition deposit rates increase when the LOA arrives between two and five weeks compared to the one-week cohort. This may reflect a willingness among Indian students to wait for their preferred school to issue an LOA. But student patience is limited. The five-week cohort is 21% more likely to deposit tuition fees than students who receive their LOA after five weeks. Given this stark difference, universities would still be wise to send LOAs to Indian students early, even though these students show patience during that first month’s wait.

Advice to Institutions

It’s clear that institutions who get LOAs into the hands of international students the quickest have an advantage in securing enrollment. While Indian students are more patient with Canadian universities, there remains a sharp drop in tuition deposits once the LOA takes over five weeks to arrive. All told, institutions are under a time crunch when it comes to processing LOAs.

We recommend that institutions allocate as many resources as they can to expedite LOA turnaround times. Our data shows that reduced LOA turnaround time is beneficial for schools in terms of increased tuition deposit rates, but it is highly beneficial for students as well. Waiting on LOAs can significantly bottleneck an international student’s journey to higher education. With an LOA in hand, students can further their applications for courses, scholarships, and student visas.2

However, we recognize that application processing takes time to ensure that schools are recruiting quality students. That’s why ApplyBoard is committed to connecting schools with top students from across the world. Our sophisticated vetting process means less work and time for schools, and thus higher tuition deposit rates. We look forward to continuing to help our partners refine the application process in order to better improve students’ access to education.

Published: January 27, 2022

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About the ApplyInsights Team

Led by ApplyBoard Co-Founder and CMO Meti Basiri, the ApplyInsights Team analyzes the latest government and third-party data, alongside ApplyBoard internal data, to provide a complete picture of trends in the international education industry. They also work with industry experts and ApplyBoard team members to gather local insights across key source and destination countries, where ApplyBoard has helped more than 300,000 students around the world.


1. Data for 2021 is for January to August. The pandemic did not materially affect the relationship we observed.

2. The terms student visa and study permit are generally used interchangeably for Canadian international students. Rather than student visas, Canada provides accepted international students with study permits, which allow those students to enroll in classes at Canadian institutions. When a student is accepted for a study permit, they are also usually provided with a visitor visa, which allows that student to enter Canada for their studies.


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