Can I Bail Out on Early Decision After Receiving a Scholarship Elsewhere?

Question: I have submitted an Early Decision application to one institution. However, before hearing back from that institution, I was awarded a scholarship to another university. While I can afford to pay full tuition to the school I applied ED, is there any way they would release me from the ED agreement because of the scholarship? Or is it possible to switch from early decision to regular decision?

From the wording of your question, “The Dean" assumes that you applied in the Early Decision II round and thus haven't gotten a response yet from your ED school. Correct?

If so, you can contact the college and asked to be switched into the Regular Decision applicant pool. (The college folks may ask for confirmation in writing.) But you better do it fast because the verdicts are probably being finalized this week or next, and once you have received your admission decision, you cannot get “released" from your ED commitment because of your scholarship to another college.

WARNING: If you switch to Regular Decision, the admission committee will obviously see that you aren't as eager to attend their school as you were when you first submitted your application. And this diminished enthusiasm might have a negative effect on your outcome. Acceptance odds are usually higher for ED candidates than for RD candidates (often significantly so), which means that a college that might have said Yes in the ED round may say No in the RD round. And this could be especially true for you because amending your status will be like waving a flag that proclaims, “I'm losing interest!" So, if you do decide to bail out on Early Decision and switch to Regular, you might want to tell your regional admissions rep that the change is “for financial reasons" and leave it at that. The admission committee should be more sympathetic to your new RD status if they think you're concerned about money and not merely a flaky teenager. Even so, the turnabout may mean bad news instead of good, unless you're clearly a strong candidate.

But if you're happy with the option to attend the university that has offered you a scholarship, then it would be wise to back off from the binding ED commitment because it sounds as if you're not sure now that you (or perhaps your parents?) really want to make it.