Must ED Applicant With Money Worries Withdraw Other Applications?

Question: I've submitted my deposit after being admitted under the ED 2 plan. However, now that I've been calculating the various costs involved, it seems like my aid award is inadequate. How do I go about things from here? Must I withdraw my other applications even though the financial situation has changed?

Early Decision applicants can withdraw from the binding commitment without penalty if the aid package is insufficient. But it sounds as if you’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too. If you were accepted at your ED 2 college but without sufficient aid, you should have contacted the college right away to appeal the aid package before submitting your deposit. Then, if the aid appeal was not successful, you shouldn’t have submitted the deposit. But, once a deposit is in (as yours is), it’s time to immediately withdraw all other applications.

If something significant in your family’s financial picture has changed in the past month or so (e.g., a parent lost a job), you should certainly contact your ED school and explain your new circumstances. Depending on your current financial picture, you may have to say no thanks to your ED school and beg for your deposit back, if the college refuses to adjust your aid award.

If nothing major has changed but you’re just worried about the cost of your ED school, it’s still fine to contact them now to ask for additional aid, but don’t get your hopes up.

In doing so, it’s wise to have an exact amount in mind. In other words, say something like, “An additional five thousand dollars in grant would make an important difference” and not simply, “I need more money.” It’s also wise to offer specific reasons for your need, if possible (e.g., utility bills or rent that just went up, uninsured medical expenses, etc.). Be sure to act appreciative for any money you’ve been offered so far and not merely entitled to more.

However, if your plan is to drag out an aid appeal while you wait for good news from your other colleges, you’re violating your ED promise. Granted, if you were to bail out on your Early Decision commitment and choose one of those other schools instead, it’s not likely that your ED school would come after you. But, unless there’s been a big change in household finances in the past few weeks since you sent your deposit, failing to withdraw your applications sounds like bad ethics to me and worse karma.

(posted 3/10/2012)