Is Early Decision Binding When Financial Aid Seems Inadequate?

Question: Is an Early Decision admission offer binding if the college concludes you can afford to pay the tuition/room & board without aid, but you believe you cannot? For example, if the college concludes our Expected Family Contribution is above the cost based on our FASFA or CSS Profile, are we bound no matter how much we believe can afford?

If a student applies for financial aid at the time that he or she submits the Early Decision application, and then the college financial aid officials determine that the family does NOT qualify for aid … or qualifies for less aid than the family feels is required … the student canbail out of the “binding" Early Decision commitment without penalty, as long as this is done promptly. You, as a family, are the ones who determine how much aid is necessary to make a college “affordable," regardless of what the EFC figures … or the college officials … may tell you.

Over the years, “The Dean" has been irked by the number of prospective students who have been warned away from applying Early Decision (by their college counselors, by college admission officials, and, often, by the “grapevine"), with the insistence that ED is off limits for those who can't pay full freight. Parents and students are often told that it's unwise to make a commitment to a college without knowing for sure if it will be financially feasible, and that anyone who requires financial assistance to enroll should wait until spring in order to compare all need-based and merit-based aid offers.

Keep reading Show less
Find Your Best Fit
Find your best fit college and track your favorite colleges.
Connect with your future classmates
Offer not stacking up? These articles may help
Expert advice and answers to common SAT and ACT questions