Those of you preparing college applications have most likely become familiar with the term “early decision.” This is an application process in which, if accepted, you have entered into a binding agreement to attend that college. Applying ED lets the college know that they are the student’s top choice and therefore, for many schools, this will increase the likelihood of acceptance. When accepted ED, the student must withdraw all other college applications, thus highlighting the one major drawback of applying ED which is not being able to compare financial aid offers. Colleges are aware of this and may not always bestow their best offer. In my experience, colleges like Vanderbilt, Cornell and Syracuse have always been excellent and come through with generous financial aid packages regardless of the application process. Not all colleges are as honorable regarding financial aid and early decision and this is something to keep in mind if money is an issue. Of course, the one way out of a binding early decision agreement is if the student did not receive the financial aid needed to attend.
Please heed this advice: NEVER apply early decision and check that you will not be applying for financial aid if you will ultimately be needing financial aid. This practice will not give you an edge for acceptance. What’s worse, this will be viewed by the college as deceptive and if accepted, that college can hold you to the original application of “no financial aid needed.” Always read the fine print of any contract you sign and do not try to deceive the colleges. Believe me, they have seen it all!