Should Deferred Candidate “Remind” Admission Officials of No-Need Status?


Our daughter applied ED to a top 15 school and was deferred. We learned that, as a result of the expanded financial aid program that the school announced this year, the ED applications went up 40 percent. At the same time, the school is also heavily soliciting donations from alumni for the program, which is characterized as one-third funded at this point. The school states it is need-blind but it seems a school would have to have enough students who pay full tuition to balance those on aid. For the letter of continued interest, our daughter does not have new awards, nor are her senior grades stellar. Seems like grasping at straws, but would it help to reiterate that we will not seek aid to attend? Or would it be perceived as obnoxious and repetitive from the Common App?

Trying to curry favor by reminding officers at a need-blind college that your deferred daughter hasn't applied for aid is indeed a bad idea. Admission committees are not supposed to have this information and, by announcing her full-pay status in a Letter of Continued Interest, your daughter runs the risk of sounding “obnoxious" just as you've already suspected. Moreover, since it seems like one of this school's objectives is to enroll more low-income students, it might actually work against your daughter to proclaim that she doesn't fall into this targeted demographic.

Exception: If your family isn't merely full-pay but also in a position to donate a library or a gym (well, at least a snazzy locker room), that would be a different story. When a college's Advancement staff members are on their toes, they are able to sniff out the applicants who hail from mega-bucks backgrounds, but sometimes wealthy candidates still fall through the cracks. Yet it can be a delicate dance for parents to inform college officials that a hefty gift might arrive in the wake of an acceptance letter. Once again, it's important to avoid that “obnoxious" designation as this message is conveyed. But if your family could significantly sweeten the coffers at whatever college your daughter attends, write back to “The Dean" for some tips on how to proceed with taste and discretion.

Otherwise, your daughter should use her update letter to underscore her continued commitment to this college and to discuss new activities or interests, if any, that have surfaced since the fall, rather than to shine a spotlight on so-so senior grades after being deferred. But ... if she should happen to end up on the waitlist in the spring, then it IS okay to mention that she won't require aid. Colleges that are need-blind during the Early and Regular Decision rounds are typically NOT need-blind when they use the waitlist. And, at that point, grasping at straws isn't a half-bad plan!

Good luck!

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at