Admissions

Should I Send My Enrollment Deposit Before I Receive My Financial Aid Award?

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I was accepted to my first choice (not a binding acceptance) and would like to send in my deposit to hold my spot. But I haven't received the financial aid package from this school (or the other two that accepted me) yet. Do I need to wait for that if I am going to rely on financial aid, or would I be able to get my $500 deposit back if the financial aid award isn't enough? 

Students who pay an enrollment deposit can usually get the money back if they make the request before May 1, but they may have to jump through some hoops to do this. Since you have already been offered a place in the freshman class at your top-choice school, your college must hold this place for you until May 1, so there’s no reason to send them any dough until you’ve received your financial aid package. Rather than rush to submit a check, “The Dean” suggests that instead you write to your regional admissions rep (the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school) to ask about the financial aid timeline. Commonly, Early Decision applicants receive an aid award at the same time that they receive their admission verdicts, but applicants who apply under other early plans (e.g., non-binding Early Action, Rolling Admission), may not receive any financial materials until spring.


Note, however, that, although enrollment deposits will typically be refunded before May 1, housing deposits are not governed by the same rules. Some colleges (especially larger public universities where dorm space is not guaranteed) will warn incoming freshmen that, without a prompt housing deposit, they may not be able to snag a room on campus. Typically, housing deposits are not accepted until the enrollment deposit has arrived. So if your college is pressuring you to send a housing deposit now, and you were to send both an enrollment deposit and a housing deposit, it’s unlikely that the latter will be returned if you change your mind.

Thus, if you are worried about housing, then sending an enrollment deposit soon may be worthwhile, as long as you understand that you may have to fight to get it back, and you probably won’t get your housing money back at all. But, if housing is not a concern, your best bet is to wait for your other college outcomes and for all your aid information before writing out that big deposit check.

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