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Can I Turn Down ED Offer for “Financial Aid” Reasons If I Don’t Need the Money?

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Question: My dream college is MIT and I plan to apply through non-binding Early Action. But even with high SATs and grades, I'm an Asian male from the Northeast, and I know it's still a long shot. So I am thinking I will also apply Early Decision to UPenn. I think my chances are a lot better there if I'm willing to make an ED commitment. But here's my question -- if I'm super lucky and get into BOTH schools, I know that I MUST enroll at UPenn. But what if I apply for financial aid at UPenn? My family will definitely not qualify for aid, so UPenn will turn me down for financial aid, even if I'm admitted. So if I get into ONLY UPenn, I will go there. But if I am also accepted at MIT, I could tell UPenn that I can't attend for “financial reasons" since they didn't offer me any aid. Can I do that?

Yes, you can do that. But should you? It seems like you'll be setting yourself up for a boatload of bad karma if you apply for aid at Penn while knowing full well that you won't get it.

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