Question: If you apply Early Decision without knowledge of any merit scholarships which are necessary for enrollment, what happens if you get in ED but with no money? School of choice is Vanderbilt.

If you are admitted to an Early Decision college without adequate financial aid, you can withdraw from your ED commitment without penalty. And when it comes to defining “adequate,” there is a lot of gray area. Most institutions operate on the honor system (that is, they respect your contention that your aid won’t suffice and they won’t make you haul out reams of paperwork to prove it). But the admission folks probably won’t be happy either. In other words, if the college meets your demonstrated financial need, then you should be able to matriculate … at least in theory. Yet sometimes an Expected Family Contribution can seem unrealistically high to those who actually have to pay it. Sometimes, too, the college will meet your need with a combination of grants and loans, and big loans might scare you off.

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