Preparing for College

Will Emory Early Decision Applicant Move to Regular Decision Pool if Aid is Insufficient?

Question: If I apply Early Decision to a university and I am accepted, but the aid is not enough and so I release the offer (which is allowed at this specific school), will I still be considered for Regular Decision and Regular Decision financial aid? I am talking specifically about Emory; I'm not sure if all schools vary on this issue.

You’re right ... colleges do vary on this issue. Some will automatically put admitted Early Decision candidates into the Regular Decision applicant pool if the student turns down the ED offer for financial reasons. However, others, including Emory University, do not. Thus, if you say no to Emory now, you won't be reconsidered in the spring.

BUT … before you pull the plug on your first-choice school, “The Dean” suggests that you appeal your current aid offer (or lack thereof), if you haven’t done so already. Here are some tips:

1) Make an appointment to speak with a financial aid official at Emory. (If you live close by, going in person is ideal, but a phone appointment is fine, too.) It can be helpful for both you and for the college staff to have your materials at the ready before the meeting, so use your first contact to set up the appointment only, and then plan to talk turkey at a later date.

2) Provide the specific dollar amount that you require. In other words, don’t just insist, “I will need more money to attend” Instead, say, “With an additional $6,000 in grant money, I would be able to enroll at Emory.”

3) Be prepared to provide documentation of your additional need, when possible. Sure, you’ve already filled out copious forms that detail your family’s income, assets, and many expenses. But are there additional expenses that weren’t included in the FAFSA or CSS Profile (e.g., a sibling attends a special school, a grandparent has medical or housing costs that your family covers)? Are there any other extenuating circumstances that you haven’t mentioned or that could be reiterated (e.g., a parent recently lost a job or became disabled)? Sometimes, too, parents find that the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) simply isn’t realistic. So even if you have already provided figures such as the cost of monthly mortgage or car payments, it can be worthwhile to list these again and to “remind” college officials of how much they eat into your household funds.

Colleges don’t like to lose students they’ve already admitted via Early Decision and are usually willing to work with you to facilitate your enrollment. However, if you can’t reach a compromise this month with the Emory financial aid folks, then you will have to walk away and set your sights elsewhere.

(posted 1/4/2012)