It is a breach of Early Decision policy (and a breach of ethics as well) to apply to more than one ED college. In theory, this should never happen because guidance counselors are required to sign off on a pledge that confirms that the student has chosen only one ED institution.
But sometimes inexperienced counselors overlook the rules or may be confused because — in most cases–a student CAN apply to an Early Decision college and an Early Action college (or even several) at the same time, with the understanding that, if accepted at the ED school, the student will enroll regardless of other options … unless financial aid is inadequate. (Exception: The handful of colleges that offer “Single Choice Early Action” don’t permit concurrent Early Decision applications.)
You CAN, however, apply to an Early Decision college in the first round of ED and then to a different college that offers ED II, but only afteryou’ve received your verdict from the ED I school and you’ve learned that you’ve been denied or deferred (or admitted with insufficient financial aid and thus you’ve already turned down the offer).
If a student applies to more than one Early Decision college at the same time, it’s very possible that this violation will come to light, and the student will not be accepted at EITHER school (or if the student has ALREADY been accepted, the offer of admission will be rescinded.)
There is a group of colleges that share the names of admitted Early Decision students. (They only do this AFTER the ED students have been accepted and have confirmed enrollment.) While not all students who ignore their ED pledge and apply to multiple ED colleges will be caught, those who ARE caught will pay a steep price … and not just in karma!