Obligation to attend if admitted E.D.??????

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Obligation to attend if admitted E.D.??????
By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:28 am: Edit

I don't get it. If you get admitted E.D. your are financially 'obligated' to attend that college???How can you do that if you don't know how much money they are giving you? They don't tell you right then how much they may give in merit aid, do they ?I don't see how anyone can decide E.D. without knowing the money details?Is there anyway to get out of it if you decide against that school?Also, son may have sent an application in E.D.without me looking at it to see if they have funky rule about must attend if admitted?Like can they ruin child's credit if he doesn't go there?

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:37 am: Edit

Whatever school your son applied to, you can still get a copy of the application and check to see if it's binding. None have deadlines this early, so if you feel he shouldn't apply ED, there would be time to change it. (BTW, someone will come on here and tell you he couldn't apply ED without you signing for it; this is not true, as my son's ED app did not require any signature but his.)

You apply ED assuming no merit awards. You will be given a needs-based financial aid estimate if you apply for FA when you get your ED decision. It is theoretically possible to back out of ED because the FA was too low. Most schools will also listen and possibly change the package if you feel your child cannot attend otherwise.

If merit aid is important, your child should probably not be applying ED.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:40 am: Edit

BHG, let me see if I can help. The rule of thumb is to NOT apply ED if you are relying on a certain amount of financial aid. Those who need to do that are advised to NOT apply ED for that reason as you don't know if you can afford the school until you see the financial aid package. Schools may not even be as generous in the ED round because they have committed students who will attend regardless.

Anyway, IF your child is accepted ED at a school and you cannot afford it once you see the financial aid package, or in other words, it has come in too low for what you had to get, you can bow out for finanical reasons but should tell them right away. You CANNOT wait until you see other offers months down the line. So, you must inform them that you decline for financial reasons and then that school is no longer in the running for your child. My daughter's close friend applied ED to Wheaton College in MA and was accepted but the financial aid package was not enough for her family and so she had to decline IMMEDIATELY and was not able to consider that school any longer and applied to other schools in the RD round. She is now at UNH (quite a different school in fact).

Hope this helps. Also, you can call an admissions office and ask that if the financial package is not adequate in the ED round, can the student decline (they would likely reply yes, but right away by the ED response deadline). You could try to negotiate the finanical aid package but if not successful bow out, but again, by the ED reply date, not later.

ED is meant as a binding agreement. It is not something you enter into if you are not sure for one reason or another, even if the reason is valid such as financial. That is why those that MUST get a certain amt. of financial aid are discouraged from going the ED route.


By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:40 am: Edit

That's the trouble with ED. If you apply ED, you are obligated to attend. I think the college does tell you what the financial package is at the time. That's not the problem. It's that the college's idea of what you can afford and your own notion of what you can may be miles apart. You need to be aware of that. Telling the college that your idea is different from its own is not a good enough reason to decline, from what I understand.
Like all breaches of contract, it is always possible that one may get off scot-free; but there's also the possibility that one will be found out and that the college will alert others.
Now, if your S sent an application ED, you better take a look at what the rules of that college are. If the deadline has not passed, you can ask for it to be put into the RD pile.
ED is not a good idea for families who need to compare financial packages (that's why it's said to favor the affluent).

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:42 am: Edit

Reading posts that appeared while mine was being typed makes me realize that my understanding of ED is different from that of Garland and Soozie's. The best thing is to check the fine print.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:45 am: Edit

I said "theoretically" because it has been maintained here that it is possible. Backing out, when it happens, doesn't come easily, as Susan says. I have no experience with it myself, and would not counsel someone to assume they could.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:50 am: Edit

Marite, in general, we were all saying the same basic thing as to who should apply ED and who should not. If they must get a certain amount of money or merit money, then ED is not the route to go. I like Garland and your idea of switching that ED app to RD now as that CAN be done.

I guess that Garland and I are of the understanding that you can decline a ED offer if you cannot afford the package offered but that would be right away. Even still, I do not think one should enter into this binding agreement with that intent. But I do realize that the EFC might be so off what the family can afford that they absolutely cannot send their child. They likely should not have applied ED though. I related the story of my D's close friend who did bow out right away cause of the financial aid package. This is the second child in college (older D is at Bates and was in fact VAL at our school) and they are of fairly modest means. I just assumed that this can be done, had heard of it before and so forth. But ideology-wise, you, me, and Garland are on the same page. I like your advice that BHG check the fine print and I suggested she ask the school directly.

When someone applies ED, it should be with the notion that I WILL ATTEND if accepted not I will attend IF this or that (such as financial aid package is adequate). If you cannot be certain BEFORE the app goes in ,then you should not apply ED. That is why ED does not favor families who must get financial aid, and indeed favors families who are more financially secure.


By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:51 am: Edit

While, yes, it is technically possible to back out of the E.D. agreement if financial aid is not sufficient, it is NOT advisable. Colleges definitely do not like it and they will advise your child's guidance counsellor of the occurrence. This can possibly affect kids from that h/s in the future. E.D. acceptees will get an estimated f/a package with their offer of admission. That's why colleges make it very clear that if financial aid is going to make or break a decision, then you should not be applying E.D. BHG, it's not possible that your son would have applied E.D. without your knowledge because the E.D. agreement has to be signed by the applicant, a parent, and the guidance counsellor.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:53 am: Edit

Alwaysamom: See my post above in answer to your last post: it is absolutely possible.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:01 am: Edit

BHG, I am curious as to what you understood applying ED meant. Did you assume that it was that the student could simply find out sooner or did you realize it was meant as a binding agreement to attend. Since you understandably might require a certain level of finanical aid or even hope to get merit aid, did you realize the nature of ED as a decision to attend the school? I am wondering if you had thought it was just hearing early. Most of the apps describe what it means to do ED. I don't think it is a "funky rule" that you must attend if admitted or in the fine print. That is the actual description of what Early Decision IS. Perhaps you were confused with rolling admissions which is hearing early but no committment or Early action which is also hearing early but no committment. ED, on the other hand, by its nature is not just hearing early but a committment to attend that college. Otherwise, without a committment, everyone would apply ED so they could hear early but not commit. Do you see what I mean? While your point is reasonable about needing to hear the aid package first, that is the kind of situation where one does NOT apply early.

I encourage you to call the admissions office directly and ask this question. You could change his app to RD if you are depending on seeing the aid package before deciding if he will attend. That is the process theoretically. As I mentioned, I do know someone who bowed out by the ED reply date due to financial reasons and lost any chance to attend, so I guess it can be done but always check first. And as I and others have said, you really should not enter the process with that intention of waiting to see the financial aid package. That is the process that is meant in the RD round and of course is understandable that many must do this when deciding where to attend as it is so costly.


By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:02 am: Edit

Alwaysamom is right. The counsellor, student and parent have to sign. And in addition, as others have said, Backhandgrip, one should emphatically NOT apply early decision if he or she wants to compare financial aid packages.Unfortunately, you cannot have it both ways. Either you apply ED and give up the chance to compare aid packages; or apply EA or RD.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:15 am: Edit

My daughter decided not to apply ED.
Not only did she want an extra 5-6 months to mull over her choices, but she realized that even if a school is held to meeting 100% of EFC, that EFC is not exactly what is a piece of cake to pay, and it might even have the bulk be loans. IT really gives the power to the school, the student is saying" I want to go here so much I don't even want to see offers from other schools".
IMO we didn't want to give up that control.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:23 am: Edit

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!Wow. I had NO idea.Everything has changed SO much and with applications online, I'm going to have to sit right next to my sons and make sure everything goes in right. Furthermore, college counselor at h.s. said something like, "You can apply Drexel and Penn State Early Decision, here are the dates, " but he didn't make it clear you cannot do both at the same time and I didn't notice it on application.And I thought he was encouraging us to apply E.D.Well surprise, surprise, up a creek here.
No Sue I thought we could send in multiple E.D.s, we are up a creek.I'll get right on this.

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:25 am: Edit

I can only speak from my limited experience, but at the Ivy that my son applied to ED only HE signed (which led me ask as an attorney how a contract could ever be binding with a 17 year old), not the counselor and not a parent.

Also, we were told by the admissions rep for our area that if we could not "afford" the tuition, the school would let our son out of his committment.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:25 am: Edit

Son sent in E.D. applications to 3 colleges.LOL
I'll take care of it today!

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:31 am: Edit

Concernedad; That was what I was thinking as son was just sitting there typing out applications and said all of a sudden. I have to sign this and send it in.How can a 17 yr old's signature be binding?Anyway, I'll take car of this today.
Concernedad; Your son does the football? How is that going and what division?

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

I wonder what I would have done if it wasn't for C.C.-Just float around until the sky fell in on us?

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:04 am: Edit

Backhandgrip - are you SURE the three were ED? You can apply to more than one school if they have EA (Early Action) in which they tell you early if you got in, but you DON'T have to go - you can wait til May and compare offers. And you can apply to more than one school EA - except with a few Ivies, which now how "single EA" - you apply to ONE school EA but don't have to tell them til May if you are going.

Concerneddad, only the student has to sign EA, I believe. Could that have been the case? Are you sure it was ED? I was an ivy interviewer and NEVER heard of an Ivy that didnot require the signature for ED.

It's all very confusing and many people confuse the three different systems.

By Irishbird (Irishbird) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit

I believe that since Penn State is a rolling admissions system, that it MUST be an Early Action application. (I think that it's probably also the case w/ Drexel).
Most hs counselors will encourage any PA resident who is applying to Penn State-even if it's your safety (esp. if they want University Park) to apply before Nov. Otherwise with the rolling adm. system, you might not secure a spot if you application is sent later in the fall/winter.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit

Good post Voronwe! I wonder that too, but if the student did apply ED three places-- how to extricate himself without doing irreversible damage? Ideas? I wonder about the mother calling to say this is her son's first choice; he is so excited; but the parents can't afford the financial commitment of an ED applicaton?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

You can apply to several schools EA only if non of the schools have "single choice EA."

"Single choice EA" means you can only apply EA or ED to one school. The decision isn't binding. The student can apply elsewhere regular admission even after an EA admission. However, the student can't apply to more than one EA or ED school.

Harvard is a school with single choice EA, a change it made last year after trying unlimited EA the year before.

Meanwhile, the original post in this thread is an example of why parents need to be involved in the admissions process.

I am not at all pointing fingers at the OP, who clearly is involved. I have seen parents, however, who turn over everything completely to their kids and assume that everything is going wonderfully and then get some nasty surprises in the spring.

This can include the kids getting acceptances only to places the parent can afford. It also can include kids who froze during the college application process and applied nowhere, as was the case with one very bright young man whom I know. The father had taken the student on college trips. The student had told his dad that he had applied.

Come spring, no acceptances came because no applications had been sent. The student ended up going to college the year after, but it would have been easier for the student and dad if the student had made this decision thoughtfully instead of acting in a way that caused it to be dropped on him.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

There's a lot of information floating around on this thread, and I'm not sure all of it is good advice.

First of all, BHG, it IS correct that you can only apply to ONE school ED. However, I checked the Penn State website, and it looks like they have rolling admissions, if I'm reading it right. They advise applying by 11/30 because spots begin to fill up quickly. It doesn't sounds like binding ED.

Even if you apply binding ED, you can apply rolling or RD admissions, but you just have to withdraw those apps if you are admitted ED.

But if he has applied to two true ED schools, then he needs to withdraw one.

Second, I don't agree that you necessarily should not apply ED if you need aid. I think those who have really low EFCs and will get sufficient NEED-BASED aid can go the ED route. Of course, it's possible, as someone mentioned, that the aid will be more loans than you'd like. If I were a financially needy student who wanted to apply ED, I'd contact the school's finaid office and see what information they could give me about my EFC (which you can often calculate online) and loans vs. grants.

If you need merit aid and do not expect to get any (or enough) need-based aid, then I think ED is unadvisable.

BHG -- what I would advise you to do is check the websites of each of the 3 schools you applied to and see what their policies are. If none are binding ED or single-choice EA, he may be perfectly fine applying to all three now.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

"I can only speak from my limited experience, but at the Ivy that my son applied to ED only HE signed (which led me ask as an attorney how a contract could ever be binding with a 17 year old), not the counselor and not a parent.

Also, we were told by the admissions rep for our area that if we could not "afford" the tuition, the school would let our son out of his committment."

Columbia U. writes, right on its website, that they very, very rarely release an ED acceptance for application to other schools, no more than 2 or 3 a year, and ONLY for schools that are substantially cheaper - they explicitly reference state schools. They will NOT release you to apply to their competition. Period.

"Won't release" means the schools share lists with each other regarding ED admits. There are gentlemen's agreements between them not to mess with each other's EDs. And they have no reason to. Every school has plenty of other well-qualified applicants without messing in each other's business.

The key word is "afford". It can stretch over a lot of territory. They could make it possible to afford with $24k in loans over 4 years, $3,500 a summer expected from summer jobs, and $2k a year from on-campus work. Tens of thousands of students do just that, so if this meets your "affordability" criteria, ED isn't a risk.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

I might be wrong...but I thought that Drexel and Penn State had rolling admissions. Perhaps what the HS Guidance counselor meant was...if you apply early at these two schools you will hear early because they process their applications when they are received and notify of acceptance shortly thereafter. I know Drexel used to have rolling admits, but I'm not sure if that is still the case. Ditto Penn State. Anyone know???

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:20 am: Edit

RD: Regular Decision. Usually applicants are notified of both admission and financial package in early April and have until May 1 to accept. As many applications as one's school (and one's energy and wallet) will allow can be submitted. RD applications are usually due on Dec.31 or Jan. 1

ED: Early Decision; binding on both college and student. Normally, only one ED application is permitted. The exception is to colleges that have rolling admission deadlines (such as U Michigan). If the applicant has submitted applications (including RD) to other colleges, s/he must withdraw those applications. ED decisions are usually sent out in mid-December.

Some colleges have both ED1 and ED2. This allows students who may not have been admitted early to their top choice college to apply to another one soon thereafter and receive an early decision from the college. ED2 deadlines are usually some time in January.

EA: Early Action. Binding on the college but not the applicant. The applicant may still submit other EA applications as well as RD applications elsewhere and wait until May 1 to decide. EA notification in mid-December.

SCEA: Single Choice EA. Binding on the college but not the applicant. However, the applicant is allowed to submit only one application early (this includes ED, SCEA and EA). The exception is for applications to colleges with rolling admissions. SCEA notification in mid-December. Again, the applicant has until May 1 to decide.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:20 am: Edit

Emptynester - the SON should call, not the parent. I am sure adcoms would understand if the kid called right away and said he misundersood; he could withdraw the aps and say to the first choice school that it is his first choice, though he knows he must wait til RD.

By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:23 am: Edit

I don't understand how a 17 year old's signature can be legally binding either, but my D did apply ED last year using only her own signature. I didn't sign anything, and I know the GC didn't sign anything either, since due to some unusual circumstances, the D had to apply in August.

She's now enjoying (I hope) her second week of classes, so there was no indecision issue, but it IS possible to apply ED on a student's signature.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit

It's really a question of what you mean by "legally binding." They're not going to go to court to try to enforce her commitment to attend. The way they would retaliate is to notify other schools, which would hurt her in RD b/c the schools have an interest in maintaining ED, and also to hold it against other applicants from her HS.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:43 am: Edit

The "legally binding" part is not the problem -- the school can get plenty of other well-qualified applicants (some of whom would not even require financial aid) to take the withdrawn applicant's place. The problem for the applicant is the "gentleman's agreement" that exists across like-minded institutions, that will essentially "blackball" the applicant. Now perhaps one could sue them for "restraint of trade", or "interference in interstate commerce" and get admitted 10 years later, but it would cost an awful lot more than taking the original ED offer!

And they will hold it against other applicants from the HS, because it means the GC hasn't done her job, and the school can't be trusted.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit

"Concerneddad, only the student has to sign EA, I believe. Could that have been the case? Are you sure it was ED? I was an ivy interviewer and NEVER heard of an Ivy that didnot require the signature for ED."

Columbia required only the student's signature. I have stated this several times, and at the start of this thread I foretold that people would say it never happens. But it does.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

I just checked Drexel's web site. They do NOT have early decision OR Early admissions. They are purely rolling decision. So, it is my assumption that the guidance counselor told the student to get the "application in 'early'" to improve his chances, not to "apply early decision." So, there shouldn't be a problem. As someone noted, Penn State is rolling admissions as well.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

Apologies Garland. There's always an exception that proves the rule - but I must say, I am stunned! Every application I have seen, including outside the Ivies, has a separate ED statement that must be signed IN ADDITION to the application. For example, many colleges have a
"supplement to the Common Applicaion" packet with
additional papers to sign. I fully take your
word that Columbia doesn't require it, but at my
son's high school, kids got letters from the
admissions office that their apps were incomplete because they had not signed the separate page, nor
gotten their gc to sign. Some people don't know the supplemental forms exist, or think that signing the regular app is sufficient.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

Thank you Rhonda and everyone.Yes, will take care of this today.Thanks for info. about rolling admission.Just wondering how they let you out of E.D. if you can't afford it, just call them right away and that is it?Yes, know about early action too.Thanks again.

It's difficult as sometimes kids take the initiative, like 'it's MY life, My decision, My application!'If I say anything it's 'I KNOW mom!' even when I don't think they know, especially boys who are not as communicative, just doers. The sad fact is, my kids are much brighter than I.But I want to be involved too......after all , we re paying.

By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

If memory serves, Garland is right about Columbia. I thought that it was interesting at the time.....since I was going to pay the bill.

By Nedad (Nedad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:02 pm: Edit

wrong thread

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:03 pm: Edit

Thank you again for checking the websites. So that takes care of two colleges, we just have one to worry about now.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:04 pm: Edit

I actually got a little paranoid, because I kept hearing about this mythical page. I harassed my poor son: look at the site again; are you sure we didn't miss anything? But we hadn't: the contract that the counselor and myself had to sign didn't come until after the ED acceptance, in late December.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:10 pm: Edit

BHG....I REALLY THINK THIS IS NOT THE SITUATION YOU HAD THOUGHT! I am not positive, but I don't think your son has applied ED to three schools and I think you are just confused. I know that PENN STATE is ROLLING ADMISSIONS, not Early Decision. I know this as my daughter is an applicant, though has not yet done the application. With rolling admissions, you get your decision earlier but it is NOT binding and you may apply to other schools at the same time. For instance, my daughter has TWO rolling admissions schools, Penn State and UMichigan and these apps will go in sooner than the others cause of rolling admissions and the odds increase if you apply sooner than later. None of it is binding. In fact, after these apps go in, should she decide to apply ED to NYU (which IS binding), it is ok that these two rolling apps are submitted and any other apps are submitted in the meantime. But if she gets into NYU, as an ED applicant, she is bound to that school and must withdraw her other applications.

I TRULY BELIEVE, that your son may NOT have applied ED to three schools. In fact, I cannot imagine his GC letting him do that. I think you are merely confused and that his three schools may be rolling admissions. I know that is true of Penn State and you'd have to check on Drexel and the other school. The reason you did not notice a binding agreement on those schools is because there is none! Rolling admissions just reviews applications on a first come first served basis and so the student is encouraged by his GC to get that application in early. That is not the same as applying ED!

I hope you call the GC today so he/she can explain what I think happened here which is OK, really it is, to apply rolling admissions to more than one school as that is NOT a binding agreement at all.

If I am wrong on this, sorry, but that is what I am understanding here. I really do not think he applied ED...in many cases you would have had to sign that and it is not small print (though I understand Garland has said some schools do not require parent signatures) and often they ask for the GC to even sign it. Your son would have known it was binding if he signed such a very clearly marked form. I really do NOT think he did that. I think you are dealing with Rolling Admissions schools and am sure on Penn State and ask you to visit the websites for his other two schools, plus check with the GC. Let us know. Don't sweat, as I think this is not what you think it is.


By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit

Garland, Coulmbia was the school my son applied to Ed.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:26 pm: Edit

Thank you Sue. Yes, we are in the clear with 2.There is a problem with #3.I know because he was invited to apply early and did so online but still has the other forms for the guidance c..You know Sue, son of mine could apply E.D. some places. His stats are good.In fact, he has one place in mind .

Just to add, outside scholarships are great but they are a long hard road.But what has a kid to do anyway? Keeps them busy.

I think if someone applied E.D. and backed out disrespectfully the college could conceivably make the student liable for tuition.Maybe they could tarnish a student's credit. But has anyone heard of this happening? Probably not?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:33 pm: Edit

BHG -- I don't think the college would do either of those things. I think the biggest risk would be being blackballed at other schools. Conceivably, a rolling admissions school that had accepted him could rescind based on failure to meet an ED commitment w/o good reason. That seems to me the worst case scenario.

Not clear what your $$ situation is for his tuition -- does he need merit aid? Or will need-based and/or what you can pay be enough?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:45 pm: Edit

I don't think it is possible for a kid to willy-nilly apply binding early decision all over the place. My daughter's transcript/guidance office forms for early decision required a specific signature from the school guidance counselor indicating that the application was binding early decision.

As a legal matter, no college is going to MAKE you go to their school if you can't pay the bill. Heck, they won't LET you enroll if the bill isn't paid.

However, there is an ethical issue here. And, certainly backing out of an ED to choose another school when solving an extreme financial shortfall isn't the issue would get you blackballed throughout the admissions committee.

ED is for students who have a clear first choice and who fully intend to enroll at the ED school if accepted. The only time an ED student should legitimately try to back out of the deal would be a case where, despite all good-faith efforts by the college and the family to make it happen, the finances just don't work out.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit


As long as two of the three colleges have rolling admissions, your son may be in the clear with the third as far as not applying to more than one goes. ED rules usually make an exception for rolling admissions. Still, if you are concerned about financial aid, you or your son should ask the admissions office about the financial consequences. If necessary, ask for the application to be considered RD.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

Hi Rhonda. One boy right after the other.Of course we are thinking merit. Those tables are so sad. They don't tell the whole picture.I remember being so surprised with child #1, really bright, high scores,- 3 other kids and it seemed like they wanted to clean us out with #1! So you don't think E.D. is the way to go for looking for merit aid??
Blackballed by other colleges, wow.Do these discussions really occur? I would think not but then you hear about certain high profile students, kids getting in the newspaper because of crime or plagerism, and how it has happened to them and wonder.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:57 pm: Edit

Concerneddad: I figured that might be the case.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:01 pm: Edit

Yes, absolutely these discussions occur! However, they tend to occur among college cohorts....I doubt that East Bejesus College would contact Harvard about it. Bt it MOST DEFINITELY occurs among similarly situated schools. It's actually a rather small world out there - the top 100 or so schools only employ several hundred people, who share lots of info via various professional committees and simply calling each other up,and can be quite incestuous in terms of who knows who, who used to work where, etc.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Thanks ID.
How do you know if you definitely should not apply E.D..Like how about if your scores, grades, rank, etc. are good but not off the charts.Is it worth taking the chance if a students really wants to go to that college? Just give it a try?

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:13 pm: Edit

"Blackballed by other colleges, wow.Do these discussions really occur? I would think not but then you hear about certain high profile students, kids getting in the newspaper because of crime or plagerism, and how it has happened to them and wonder."

The lists of ED admits ARE shared - I have this firsthand from an ADCOM at a snooty LAC (a personal friend). As to how they act upon them, that is up to the particular college. However, the gentleman's agreements do exist, and they have no reasons to step on each other's toes, not with so many good applicants out there.

Columbia says it explicitly. They will release you (rarely) to seek out less expensive alternatives, like state schools. They will NOT release you to pursue schools with whom they are in competition.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:18 pm: Edit


Even for absolutely stellar students that are admitted everywhere and submit identical financial information to colleges, financial offers vary wildly from college to college. MIT, for example, is known to offer less aid than some of its competitors. Princeton is one of the most generous. Depending on how badly a college wants the applicant (and that depends on what niche it wishes to fill--it could be tennis or it could be crew or oboe), it may offer very little, half tuition, full tuition, a full ride. So if you need financial aid, it really pays to compare offers.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:36 pm: Edit

BHG -- I think you need to figure out how much you are willing and able to pay. As far as I have heard, merit aid is not available for ED acceptees, although of course he can always try for outside merit scholarships.

It sounds like you will not get any need-based aid, right? In that case, an ED acceptance likely means full fare tuition. If you are not able and willing to pay that, then your son needs to know that he cannot apply ED because you cannot pay the tuition. Here I'm assuming that he is considering a school that HAS merit aid, because if it doesn't, then using RD isn't going to help your aid situation.

What school is he interested in? You might want to see if you can find on their website the difference between ED and RD acceptance rate to see how much diff it makes in his chances.

My D applied ED, fwiw, and was accepted. It was a good decision for her, but I knew she would not get any aid, since the school only offered need-based aid. So we were prepared to pay full tuition, and went into ED knowing that.

I agree it's a difficult decision and all these factors need to be considered. good luck!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:47 pm: Edit

most of the most academic schools only offer need based aid anyway.
Outside merit awards won't be affected by ED acceptances, so you might want to look for them.

Many schools like ED as they can fill class quickly with students who are committed to attending, plus since they have made that commitment, they aren't waiting to see what finaid package will be compared with other schools. So it isn't really in the schools interest to offer merit awards to ED applicants, but save them for students who are RD and trying to decide between schools.

It is nice for student to get process over quickly one way or another and learn of acceptance even before xmas break in many cases, but for many the trade offs aren't worth it.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:52 pm: Edit

Garland, I apologize for making the broad statement about a parent and counsellor having to sign the E.D. agreement but until now I have never heard of any school which did not require this. And I'm on my third time in this process! In any case, the student's counsellor should be aware of whether or not he has applied E.D., I would think. As someone else said, this is a good example of the need for parental involvement and supervision.

Rhonda, I'm not sure if you're thinking of a particular school which does not give merit aid for E.D. acceptees but that certainly is not the case everywhere. My oldest daughter got a full tuition merit scholarship E.D. and my second D got a smaller one E.D. at another school. The first time we toured NYU and attended an information session, we were told that, in fact, E.D. applicants 'get first crack at' the merit $$. So I guess it varies school to school.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 02:28 pm: Edit

How do you know if you definitely should not "apply E.D..Like how about if your scores, grades, rank, etc. are good but not off the charts.Is it worth taking the chance if a students really wants to go to that college? Just give it a try?"

Most people would answer yes imho. BUT that is assuming you are either capable of paying the tuition or are willing to take on whatever financial burdens are necessary to make up a shortfall in your fa package. Have you made up your mind about the financial part? I'm not positive but it sounds like that is the issue you are struggling with...? It is just a fact of life that parents aren't always able to do everything they might want for their children.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 02:36 pm: Edit

The truth is that, at many schools, ED offers very little in the way of admissions advantage -- unless you are a legacy (Penn, for example, only gives legacies preferences in ED, not RD), a recruited athlete whom they want to pin down, a desired URM, the absolutely vital oboe/English horn player, the developmental admits (uncle gave a couple of mil), and the academic superstars who've published in scientific journals and whom the school wants to keep away from the competition. Take them out of the equation, and the rate of admits for the rest may in some cases be the same as RD, or even lower. In the case of Pomona, for example, it actually is lower.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 02:36 pm: Edit


I have another idea (and hope I'm not contradicting myself right and left!).

If your son applied to two colleges that have rolling admissions and if he is comfortable with the idea of attending either one should he not be admitted to his top choice, then it's okay to take the chance and apply ED with the top choice.
There is always the risk that he will not be admitted, or that if he is admitted, the financial aid package will not meet what YOU consider your needs, but he would have the other two, presumably more affordable, colleges to fall back on. So I can see where he would be justified in applying to his top choice ED. And this would give him a bit of an edge in terms of admission.

You will need to have a conversation with him now, though. Tell him what the maximum that you can afford is and make it clear that if he is admitted ED but with less financial aid than what you can afford, he must be willing to attend another, less expensive ,college (presumably one of the other two). I've read enough posts to know how bad things can become when parents do not share financial constraints with their children, allow them to apply to their dream school only to then have to steer them in another direction later.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 03:17 pm: Edit

THANK YOU ALL- all this info., all of it is so helpful.
I think from all this info. we have eliminated E.D. But we didn't look for this, we were invited, and I almost say lured with promises of 'we have excellent F.A. packages for people just like yourself.'Really feeling 'courted'???
So with E.D. it's one school, that's it, and you better be serious because unless you can't afford it that is the choice.So you for example can't apply R.D. at another similarly tiered college who has E.D.
No wonder everyone is so touchy with this topic. It IS a touchy topic.Woa.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 03:44 pm: Edit

>> How do you know if you definitely should not apply E.D..Like how about if your scores, grades, rank, etc. are good but not off the charts.Is it worth taking the chance if a students really wants to go to that college?

There are too many variables to give universal advice. Is there a clear first choice school? What is the advantage of ED at that school? How does the student stack up in the applicant pool at that school? What are the financial implications?

I can tell you that a student should NOT apply ED if maximizing merit aid is a goal. In that case, the student should be applying to schools were he/she will be a very strong applicant, so any admissions edge from ED is irrelevant.

In our particular case, my daughter had a very clear first choice school -- a first choice that only grew stronger as she did her due diligence.

On paper, she was at least a mid-pack applicant for that school. And, it was the type of school where locking in average or better-than-average "good-fit" applicants ED is critical to stabilizing their yield.

We opted not to play a full-fledged merit aid game -- in part because we didn't understand it that well and, in part, because my daughter didn't have the "stats" to win that game at the schools she was interested in.

At the end of the day, both my wife and I felt that my daughter's first-choice school was so clearly a perfect fit for her, and by a fairly wide margin, that ED made sense. In other words, we knew that a modest difference in aid at her second choice school was not going to change the ultimate decision had she ended up with the luxury of chosing.

But, those calculations involve too many specific considerations to give universal advice. The only families who don't have terribly hard decisions to make are those so wealthy that paying $160,000 isn't painful at all and those who won't be able to send their kid to ANY college without 100% need-based aid.

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 04:18 pm: Edit

I would add that despite the differences from college to college with regard to calcuating EFC and need-based aid, there was a range that was discernible. When we OK'ed our son going ED, we accepted the responsibility to having to bear the upper limits of our EFC (mind you his first choice was a true needs blind school which is not supposed to leave a gap).

Thus, we some research and a little math, everyone applying ED to a 100% needs blind institution should be able to figure out in advance if they can afford to send their child if he or she is accepted.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:19 pm: Edit

"The only families who don't have terribly hard decisions to make are those so wealthy that paying $160,000 isn't painful at all and those who won't be able to send their kid to ANY college without 100% need-based aid."

While I agree that's true, I think there are also people (like us) who have been planning for and are prepared to pay full fare, and can do so w/o losing our shirts, but wouldn't characterize it as not painful at all!

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 06:05 pm: Edit

I know of a kid who applied ED to Reed and got in. Her family had an opportunity to travel to a third world country for 4 months. She left the rest of her apps ready to go with check enclosed with her counselor. Through human error at the high school one of the RD apps was sent. She got a letter in the spring from this school saying that her app would not be considered as she had already been admitted ED elsewhere. So some how there is communication between different schools.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 06:14 pm: Edit

"Thus, we some research and a little math, everyone applying ED to a 100% needs blind institution should be able to figure out in advance if they can afford to send their child if he or she is accepted."

Would love that to have been the case, but, in ours, it turned out to be false. The difference between the lowest and highest offer from 100% of need, "need-blind" schools (don't exist) was $48k over four years (more than half of what we paid for our house!), with loan amounts ranging from $0 to $17.9k. Not complaining, as the best financial offer was also the best educational match, and had some additional pluses besides (like a paid research assistantship.)

Now, having actually seen it, I would NEVER recommend anyone in our position apply ED regardless of what the school said.

By Guitarshredder (Guitarshredder) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

When I was at Grinnell, they mentioned that ED was binding as long as you accepted their financial aid terms. So, I suppose if you couldn't afford it you could decline (but you couldn't reapply for reg decision).

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 06:43 pm: Edit

Well in almost every case when it came to my S's friends,those that applied ED also got generous Merit aid! My S did not apply ED and he did not receive aid. These were friends from same high school basically same SAT"s , AP's and EC's and also EFC'S. Granted all the schools were 2nd tier LAC's or universities. No williams,HYP's etc. Anecdotal I admit ,but interesting.

In addition in cases where my son and another peer applied to the same school. EVERY kid that was ED was accepted and my son was not. Anyone else have a similar experience?

By Dadx (Dadx) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 06:46 pm: Edit

For anyone reading this, it should be instructive.

1. Smart as the people on this board are, relying in what you may think you understand them to say is NO SUBSTITUTE for reading the actual documents from the schools in question. Line by line. Instruction by instruction. There truly is no excuse for not doing this. We see it on this website all the time. Someone posts, and through fairly simply searches available to all, someone comes back in a few minutes with the authoritative source for the question. This is unfortunately equally true of your counselors, and friends, and possibly consultants.

Often the ones who are most sure of their facts are completely mistaken about things.

2. Don't let your kid do the stuff by himself. Perhaps it isnt irresponsible to leave them alone, but you do so at the kids own risk.

3. Logically, the only reason to for a school to take a kid ED is if they think they'd take him RD AND that he will have a material likelihood of getting into competitive schools AND that he might go there. Consequently, the hand wringing of Chris Atkins not withstanding, there aren't that many people admitted ED who wouldn't be admitted to the school in question or at least to several similar schools. There could be a few, but not many. To think otherwise defies logic, and self interest.

So if you truly want to attend that school above all else, and are willing to abandon your "strong bargaining position as a student brings to the table what they really want" then by all means apply ED. Otherwise, pick an EA school or none at all.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 07:36 pm: Edit

>> 3. Logically, the only reason to for a school to take a kid ED is if they think they'd take him RD AND that he will have a material likelihood of getting into competitive schools AND that he might go there.

I fundamentally agree with those dynamics. However, I would add three related issues that can change the dynamics in a particular situation:

a) Some schools are particularly interested in students who are enthusiastic about being a part of that college community. For these schools, ED is an unambiguous statement of interest.

b) If the strength of the application lies with intangibles rather than walk-on-water academic stats, a careful reading of the application increases the odds of admission. Logistically, it may be advantageous to have that app read early in the process, while the stack of apps is small, and adcoms are not yet bleary eyed. In the RD round, there is the risk that a good applicant will fall through the cracks.

c) Being accepted in December to a college that the student is very excited about changes the entire dynamic of the senior year in high school AND provides a useful headstart on mental transition from high school to college.

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 07:38 pm: Edit

Mini, I cannot argue with "your" numbers. All I can report is my experience. We were able to figure out our fafsa EFC within a few $100. Using the Pomona scale available on their website, we were able to figure out the high end. Two schools came in at the high end, one came in right on the fafsa number.

Fool proof, probably not. But far better than shooting in the dark.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 07:41 pm: Edit

Agreed. But with ED you only get "one shot".

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 08:34 pm: Edit

Thanks again. And you are right Dadx, very good point, and will pursue.Good points all around.
Also, if one has applied Early Action(non-binding), not Early Decision(binding) and you apply for that at the same time as E.D. I wonder what the difference may be? Less admitted, less admitted with merit aid?I wonder if there are more intracacies I don't know about that as well.Turns out S applied Early Action. I wonder if we are being lured into something? Better call.
Furthermore, I don't know how some people can possibly avoid making a mistake with E.D.Believe me, we get little guidance concerning this from the h.s.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

Can someone apply to more than one school Early Action?(non-binding)
This new information has thrown our entire family into turmoil concerning where to apply when.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 08:55 pm: Edit

Are the EFC calculators accurate? I'm hoping that the EFC calculators are an accurate reflection of what my S might expect to receive in Fin Aid.

Can an ED school hold back on fin aid based on FAFSA calculations just because you've applied ED? I'm not talking about merit aid...just straight fin aid based on income. Is it variable and discretionary?

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:01 pm: Edit


Yes, as long as it is not a school with a Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) policy. For example, one could apply to both MIT and Chicago because they are both EA, but one could not apply to both MIT and Harvard because H is SCEA. Hope this helps.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:02 pm: Edit

They can do whatever they like -- they are private institutions. The biggest variations are in how much of the packages are loans, how much the student is expected to contribute in work study, and how much they are expected to earn over the summer.

Let me give you two examples (these aren't real, though somewhat similar to what we actually received from two 100% of need, "need-blind" (doesn't exist) schools. FASFA indicates.) imagine $30,000 in need:

School #1:
$15,000 merit aid
$15,000 needbased aid.
$2,000 discretionary loan
(guaranteed payment for a summer internship)

School #2
$17,000 need based aid
$5,500 loan (required)
$2,000 work/study (required)
$3,500 required summer contribution

You'll notice that there is only a $2k difference between the two in total. (plus the $2k discretionary loan). But one had $13k more in grants per year than the other.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Momsdream: our experience was the same as Mini's. There was significant variance in total amount of aid and whether the aid was total grant or grant/loan... from similarly ranked need-blind schools. IMHO RD, with a greater than average # of applications, produces much better FA/merit awards for the sort of students typically described on this board. During RD schools have to compete for your student.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:20 pm: Edit

BHG, lot of good advice here. As you can see, things have gotten very complicated with the early situation. What Dadx states about reading the instructions for each college for the current year is essential. I have worked on app for years, and yet I MUST read each one before dealing with it, even if I just read it that morning. There is just too much out there to trust to memory and things are always changing. My suggestion is to look at each college that your son wants, and set up a table as to what the early options are for each one. You have so many different programs out their-ED, ED1, ED2, EA, single choice EA, rolling, single choice ED, single choice ED that allows rolling and EA state, Early notification, and some schools have more than one--UMiami has ED and EA! Find out exactly what the policies are for the school where the apps have gone out.

Although you certainly can get out of an ED commitment, it can cause a lot of backlash. First of all a list is made available of all kids who are accepted binding ED by a group of colleges who make this list available to other colleges that can then cross check the name and social security number against their candidates. Even if a college lets you out of the ED commitment, there is no guarantee that your name is not already released on the list , and the consequences can be that you are just stricken off the consideration stack. No notification or discussion necessarily occurs. You are just rejected. Many colleges simply do not want to chase after kids who are have broken the agreement so they just take care of the situation very simply. Also, if you back out of an ED arrangement, the school counselor could be reprimanded which would not put you in good stead with the rest of your apps. The other problem is that the offer may well be your best one. You don't know that until you see the rest of them and if you turn down your first choice school because of inadequate aid, merit or need, you may find out that all of the colleges disagree with what you think is the right price.

One of the main reasons that ED is getting so much heat is because it does benefit those who do not need aid. You cannot compare aid packages with a binding agreement for the first reply. You trade financial flexibility for a better shot at some of the schools where the Early rate is so much better.

I do know of some kids who did have to back out of ED because of some extenuating circumstances. In one case, a parent was diagnosed with a life threatening condition that necessitated a bone marrow transplant. The student request release from the ED school so she could be considered for a local school to be with her family at the rough time in their lives. Another reason would be a catastrophe that wipes out the bank account, and whereas the family had every reason to be able to pay for the education during the ED app, it is no longer a possibility. In every case, the counselor, parent and student had to write and call every single school that got an app, and explain the situation to make sure that the apps were not flushed when the student appeared on the ED list. In some cases, it may have still occurred.

I have seen some ED apps that do only require a student signature and with so many kids applying on line these days, it is too easy to zap an app while burning the midnight oil and make the mistake of not reading things carefully. That is one reason I do not like the on line apps. Too many kids in too much of a hurry and too impatient to read the fine print.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

Thank you. Where would I be without this board.

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 09:25 am: Edit

Both of my daughters were admitted to colleges under Early Decision programs. The information provided by this web site was most helpful in comparing the ED statistics for various schools. If you take the time to figure out the percentage of acceptance for each school, you will be quite surprised at some of the things you find.

That web page is not a good place to start (or finish) a search for colleges, but it is a very good step along the way.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 09:34 am: Edit

interesting morgantruce
I noticed that Colgate accepted 100% of the 657 students that applied ED.
I know my nieces didn't apply ED, as one niece thought she was in at the Ivys and the other really had her heart set on Carnegie Mellon.
( she was accepted at CM, but my sister preferred the aid package at Colgate)

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 09:53 am: Edit

Wow, Colgate's ED admit rate was 100%! But check out some selective LAC rates of schools in the top 10:

Swarthmore 45%
Williams 38%
Amherst 35%
Bowdoin 30%

Still better than RD, though!

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:04 am: Edit

I'm pretty sure Colgate's was an error. No one accepts 100%.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:13 am: Edit

Other stats on that site lookd off to me. Rice's early admits are more than the entire freshman class and Tulane's early admits show to be 2/3 of the entire undergraduate student body. I don't quite get it.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:16 am: Edit

Here is a another chart that illustrates difference in ED and RD rate.
Some schools it seems to make a good deal of difference.

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:30 am: Edit

Mini, of course I understand that you only get "one shot" at ED. My point was that within a range, you can prepare for a worst case scenario of EFC BEFORE making the decision to apply ED. If a family decides that under no circumstance could they, or would they, be able to meet the worst case scenario, than the decision is easy: do not apply ED.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:34 am: Edit

One caveat with any of these charts: the numbers are changing. I know Columbia's was about 26/7% ED this year, and I'm willing to bet that Carleton's isn't still 74, for instance.

With that in mind, the numbers still give you an idea of the advantages.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:49 am: Edit

We were just joking about how as soon as my daughter leaves a school they ramp up admission rates, and facilities.
She attended a private grade school for gifted kids that was run like a co-op but now it is the premier grde school in the state, given a good boost by two parents who have the deepest pockets in the country ( I just heard they bought up 16 houses surrounding their compound so they won't have trouble with the neighbors!"
Then her 6th -12th grade school admittedly a great prep school, but started building new buildings while she was in high school( no mean feat in middle of city) and now they definitely have state of the art facilities, unbelieveably so.
Just wondering what Reed will be like when she goes back next fall, the acceptance rate has been going down, and it has been getting much more press than previosuly, it already has new building though that opened her freshman year, so we shouldn't have to expect any big changes that way at least.
It does vary from year to year, some students apply for the funniest reasons ( listing in cosmogirl?), but that still boosts the app rate

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit

They don't really. It is quite likely that the ED round is filled with legacies, developmenal admits, recruited athletes, the oboe player that they want to commit, recruited URMs, and academic superstars whom the college wants to prevent from going elsewhere. It is likely they are admitted at a much higher rate than everyone else, hence obviating the ED advantage for lots of folks.

It will differ school to school.

Having said that, I don't think there's anything wrong with applying ED provided 1) one is really sure there is a clear first choice: and 2) one doesn't require any financial aid. ED or not, it is another chance to get looked at.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit

I dunno, Mini. Though it'd be nice to think my S woulda been accepted in the single digit RD round, he's really just regular folks, none of those categories you listed, and I'd hate to have seen his application duking it out with the other 20,000 or so. I think ED gave him a chance to be seen as a whole person.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:02 am: Edit

Out of curiosity, how does athletics fit into this? If your child is a recruited athlete, "tipped" athlete, or has had favorable contacts with a coach at a selective college, do they tell the student to apply ED? Do they give de facto scholarships in the guise of financial aid? Is this a can of worms? By the way my child is far from a recruited athlete, I'm really just nosy.

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:25 am: Edit

The other thing I should have mentioned, which was told to me by my friend the adcom, was that someone "deferred" from ED had radically reduced odds in the RD round (at least at some schools.) When you think about it, it's just human nature not to stretch oneself to rethink a candidate, when there are so many good new ones. Thus, the higher selectivity in the RD round is also artificial.

Put the two together, and you can easily see the ED advantage rapidly shrinking away (unless one is in the vaunted categories.)

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:30 am: Edit

>> It will differ school to school.

I think that a valuable role for parents to play in the college selection process is "information gatherer". A tremendous amount of statistical data on admissions rates and early decision is available at almost any college website. To understand the college admissions game, it is especially important to understand "yield" (the precentage of accepted students who actually enroll. Yield drives entire process, including early decision.

My assessment is that early decision is particularly important at small liberal arts colleges for key reasons:

1) You are dealing with very small incoming class sizes at these schools. For example, Swarthmore accepted 902 kids (plus whoever they took off the waitlist) this year to fill 367 slots in the freshman class. If their yield is not stable and predictable, they are in a lot of trouble. 400 kids in the freshman class would put them in a severe housing crunch. By accepting 142 kids ED, they've locked in almost 40% of their freshman class. That's a pretty darn good way to stabilize the yield!

2) These schools tend to be extremely focused on the "fit" of the students to the campus culture. The attractive thing about ED applicants is that, by and large, they have NOT just thrown a dart and selected the school. Usually, an ED kid at a small liberal arts college really has figured out what they think they want in a college and has made first choice selection that he is excited about because it is a good fit. So, from an admissions standpoint, if the kid meets the standards AND is excited enough about the college to submit a binding application, what is not to like? Especially if the kid may be a full-fare customer.

Even though the "stats" for early decision at these schools match the stats for the overall class, in many ways the ED kids are probably among the best applications because of their enthusiasm for the school.

My view, for these schools, is that ED does not "double" the chances of a specific kid being accepted and will NOT get a kid accepted if they wouldn't be a decent candidate in the regular round. I do think it significantly improves the prospects for a qualified candidate by:

1) adding an unambiguous statement of enthusiasm for the school

2) by allowing the adcoms to spend more time with the application at a point in the process before exhaustion has set in.

Both my daughter and her roommate were ED acceptees at Swat. Neither were legacies, development admits, recruited athletes, oboe players, URMs, or academic superstars. In fact, both could best be described as "regular kids" from public high schools. What both had in common was that they had identified Swat as their dream school before the start of the 11th grade. Both brought a level of enthusiasm and comfort to campus that has to be a big plus.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

>> Do they give de facto scholarships in the guise of financial aid? Is this a can of worms?

Yes on both counts. In theory, Division III schools cannot provide athletic scholarships. However, there is obviously concern that schools are concealing athletic scholarships in the form of discretionary need-based or merit-based financial aid. There is pressure to implement new procedures requiring Division III schools to submit detailed financial aid reports for their recruited athletes.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:40 am: Edit

What ID says expands exactly what I said above. My S also was not in any of the Mini-categories, but what he brought to the school is a deep belief that it was where he most wanted to be, no hesitation or misgivings, his number one choice. I think that is the advantage that ED gave him, and though he was qualified to be accepted RD, I don't understand the argument that the odds were the same: I see no proof that everyone but him accepted ED had some special attribute, and that those same special attributes don't also exist to some degree in the RD round acceptees, further lowering one's chances of acceptance for "regular folk" RD, even farther than the 9% at this school .

Anyway, I do *not* easily see the ED advantage shrinking away, and certainly no hard facts to support that.

By Dadx (Dadx) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:50 am: Edit

Separating normal legacies from other categories [development], I think they are among the ones least likely to be admitted early. This is because they are the group that has the highest yield (at HYP, at least). No reason to use your binding card to admit someone who is most likely to attend anyway.

If you thought of a matrix of highly desireable/normally desireable against an estimated high yield offer and low yield offer, you want to use your ED slots to admit the HD/low yield students. For a "normal applicant" to be highly desireable, I would think that the board scores would have to be well into the upper quartile for the school. Would help if he had a passion for some underpopulated department too.

Athletes, yes. URMs, absolutely.....I think they have among the lowest yields of any group. Development candidates, sure (how many can there be?)

The logic behind ED from the school's standpoint has to be to lock up the people who are highly desireable whom you might lose to a competitor later on.

PS. A friend of ours actually received a likely letter prior to his ED admission to an Ivy. Surprised me, especially as it related to the ED deadline. He was a recruited athlete. Letter obviously meant to give him some reassurance and keep him from being signed by a non-Ivy before the acceptance date.

Coaches obviously want their recruits to apply ED. It binds the kid, and it gives an early decision to him so that if he's not admitted, the athlete is free to go on about the recruiting process with other schools, and the coach has not hung himself or the athlete out to dry as it happens in April if he's not admitted.

Actually, reading above after the fact, Interesteddad has a good point that raising the number of ED acceptances lowers the use of the wait list technique to more manageable levels. It also has the advantage of spreading the workload that way.

By Apd4 (Apd4) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:51 am: Edit

I have closely read the ED statement for the Ivy League schools. It says that an ED applicant cannot apply ED elsewhere. It says nothing about applying elsewhere with a non-binding non-single choice EA application. So can a student apply to an Ivy with an ED application, and still apply to MIT (or any other non-Ivy school)which has EA but is not single choice? Anyone face this situation before?

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:54 am: Edit

Columbia's application says that though they discourage this, they allow it. I've heard, but cannot verify, that Princeton prohibits this. Each school has specific rules beyond the Ivy statement,so you need to check the individual application.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:16 pm: Edit

From Harvard's and Princeton's websites:


1. Students applying to Harvard under the Early Action program are not ordinarily permitted to apply early elsewhere in the fall, either under Early Action or Early Decision programs. Harvard will rescind its offer of admission to a student who does so.

Students are allowed to apply in the fall to public institutions under non-binding rolling or Early Action programs, and they may apply to colleges under Interim Decision programs, which inform applicants of admission after January 1. They may also apply to any institution under its Regular Action program, and to foreign colleges and universities on any application schedule.

After students receive notification from Harvard's Early Action program (around December 15), they are free to apply to any institution under any plan, including binding programs such as Early Decision II.

2. Students admitted under an Early Decision program at another college must withdraw any pending application to Harvard and are not eligible for admission. >>


Early Decision

If you have determined that Princeton is first among your college choices, you may submit your application by November 1 and receive a decision from us by mid-December. Applying Early Decision constitutes a commitment to attend Princeton if you are offered admission.

Early Decision application outcomes include: admission to Princeton; deferral of the final decision until after another review in the Regular Decision process; and refusal of admission.

Early Decision applicants must have taken the SAT I and SAT II tests no later than the November 6, 2004 test date.

Early Decision applicants may not apply under Early Decision or Early Action plans at any other college or university (but may submit Regular Decision applications elsewhere).

Early Decision applicants who apply for financial aid and are offered admission in December will be notified of any aid awards at the same time.

By Dadx (Dadx) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

Some excerpts as of 9-17-04

An Early Decision Plan is offered by Brown; it is reserved for applicants who have selected Brown as their first-choice college and who will attend Brown if admitted as an Early Decision candidate. You may apply to Brown's binding early program if you are not an applicant to another college's Early Decision or Early Action Plan. If admitted as an Early Decision candidate, a student will not initiate any new applications and will withdraw all applications to other colleges

The Early Decision Agreement is required with the Admissions Application. This is a binding agreement that a student will enroll at Columbia College if accepted. Early Decision students who are accepted agree to submit a nonrefundable $300 deposit to Columbia College and withdraw all applications pending elsewhere.

Remember that an early-decision application is a commitment. You can apply under early decision to only one college or university. If you're accepted at Cornell, you must withdraw any applications sent to other schools and send your acceptance deposit by January 7.

. Applying as an Early Decision candidate involves a commitment to matriculate at Dartmouth if admitted; candidates who are admitted under the Early Decision Plan may not initiate new applications and must withdraw any other applications. It is a violation of the plan for you to be an Early Decision candidate at two institutions at the same time.

Under the Early Decision program, it is a violation of the spirit and the letter of the agreement for an applicant
to be an Early Decision or Early Action candidate at two institutions at the same time.

{I note, FYI, that Princeton now accepts the ACT in place of the SAT I test only, but not in place of the SAT IIS}

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:24 pm: Edit

As the parent of a formely recruited athlete, my take is this: the coaches would love to see their top recruits apply ED because, as stated elsewhere, it ties them up early and the coaches do not want to be in competition with other coaches.

In addition, as alluded to by someone, the smaller ED pool can produce and advantage to the recruit and the coach in the admission decision. One Div. III school brought my son to campus on a recruiting visit, along with about 12 other recruits. The timing was to encourage them to apply ED II. In candor, the headcoach told my son that with his grades and SAT scores, he did not need the "advantage" to ED II. As it turned out, the coach spoke the truth: son was accpted RD.

At another Div. III school which he was accepted to off the waitlist, the Coach was quick to point out that had he applied ED he would have been accepted at that time.

So, in our experience, although ED is not necessary for a recruited athlete at any level, there are advantages to both the school and the student/athlete to applying ED.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 01:28 pm: Edit

Dadx says "there aren't that many people admitted ED who wouldn't be admitted to the school in question or at least to several similar schools." I completely disagree. While there is no way to really know, I feel pretty comfortable saying that there are kids who get in ED who would have been one of the many "qualified rejectees" during the RD round.

And others, including ID and Garland, are also defending ED policies using arguments I think are disingenuous. Disclaimer -- my D applied to and was accepted to Brown ED.

However, while it worked well for my D (and we knew we had no prayer of need-based aid), the only way I could support ED policies is if the elite schools voluntarily agreed to limit portion of class accepted ED to 25% (OK, maybe I could live with 30%).

As for the argument that the unique nature of a LAC or other school makes it important to know that a student is committed, etc. -- many, many kids apply ED to increase their odds. Just take a look at this and other boards if you don't believe that. I'm not saying it's not their first choice school, but my guess is a lot of them would be willing to see what their options were at RD time if they didn't think ED would give them an edge. I'm not saying this is wrong, but the fact a kid has applied ED simply means s/he's willing to go there if accepted -- it doesn't mean s/he has done a soul-searching analysis of the various schools and through much thought and discussion and self-discovery has selected it.

Second, this idea that ED is for "stabilizing yield" (nice euphemism!) is exactly what the schools would argue. So to me that's simply an argument for ED from the school's perspective, not the students. Of course you can't predict yield down to the exact number, but the schools should have some idea based on past experience. They managed to predict yield in the past, didn't they?

Finally, I just wanted to explain why my idea makes sense, and I have thought about this a bit. Let's say the elite schools, which is where the kids REALLY want the edge, agree to limit portion accepted ED to 25%. That means ED rates will go down and RD rates will go up, so less difference in acceptance rates --> less of an ED "edge" --> more people may choose to wait for RD once the perceived ED advantage is less.

Princeton is a good example of a school I think has really abused ED. Their ED acceptance rate is among the highest in the ivies, but it's considered one of the most selective schools, and has one of the lowest admissions rates. If you compare the numbers with Brown's (which accepts a smaller portion of it's class ED, I think it was about 1/3 the year my D applied) and adjust for ED rates (in other words, assume Brown accepted the same portion of class ED as Princeton and, based on Brown's RD yield, figure out how much lower Brown's RD acceptance rate would then be), you'll see that Princeton's ED emphasis really lowers the acceptance rate overall.

Sorry for the treatise here, but this is definitely something I have thought about. I think ED is a real problem, and the main reason is that people who need or want to compare finaid offers, particularly those who need merit aid, are put at a real disadvantage.

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 01:45 pm: Edit

Rhonda: I don't disagree with what you said: to explain myself better: I was defending the idea that ED DOES make a difference, not that it should, even though, to be honest, I think it helped my S. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

(BTW: it would be good for my and my S's egos to think it didn't make a difference, but i think, rationally looking at the situation, it's most probable that it did.)

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 02:00 pm: Edit

Garland -- your S, like my D, applied and was accepted ED. I don't think it's worth worrying about whether either of them would have been accepted RD -- there really is no way of knowing (frankly, I think even the adcoms would have a hard time saying that a particular ED kid or another would/wouldn't have gotten in RD -- when they're doing the ED acceptances, they don't know what the RD pool will look like).

I know someone who got into Princeton "by the skin of his teeth" (his words), meaning off the WL. Ended up doing quite well, went on to Harvard B-school after Princeton! I know someone else accepted to a top law school VERY late off the WL (late August) -- ranked in the top 2% of his law school class at graduation. So getting in ED or off the WL (meaning you're only in b/c their "first choices" turned them down) doesn't necessarily mean you're any less capable of succeeding at that school!

By Garland (Garland) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 02:12 pm: Edit

Rhonda, Agree again. Certainly nothing I'm going to worry about; I most definitely think they're qualified to be where they are.

My original posts were, as i said, a refutation of the idea that ED doesn't help. As long as it exists in the mode it does, it would be remiss, i think, to counsel a perspective student that it does not make a difference.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 02:15 pm: Edit

Back in the dark ages, I got accepted to Williams off the waiting list (I've explained how much of this had nothing to do with me, but rather had to do with their policy regarding my high school.) Ended up winning their fellowship to Oxford.

The Admissions Director at Williams once told he could take all the admissions folders, throw them down the steps, and, without looking, accept those that landed on the top three steps and have a class every bit as academically talented, every bit as likely to be successful at the school as the one he admitted.

Remember, that from the (snooty) college's point of view, they aren't accepting individual students (as much as we would like to think so, and that's what all the competition always seems to be about.) They are admitting a CLASS that has the characteristics that most closely serve the institution's needs and aspiration.

Last night I spent an hour on the phone with a former dean at Brown (we are working on a book together!) She used to serve on the admissions committee. She noted that, more than anything else, the admissions staff tended to be "risk averse". They knew they wouldn't always get all the students they really wanted to attend (either because of financial aid, or because they'd go elsewhere), and they also knew they'd often turn down candidates who, in hindsight, would have done better than those they accepted. That didn't bother them. What would bother them is accepting a student or a bunch of students who turned out to be "duds". When a good student gets accepted and goes elsewhere, that reflects on the institution; when a student gets accepted, comes, and turns out to be a drug-dealer (or some such), that reflects directly on THEM. That's how it works.

ED gives them another chance to "kick the applicant's tires".

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 02:20 pm: Edit

Garland -- I completely agree about the advantage. Otherwise, why would so many even bother applying ED?

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