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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Bail Out on Early Decision After Receiving a Scholarship Elsewhere?

Jan. 27, 2016

Can I Bail Out on Early Decision After Receiving a Scholarship Elsewhere?

Question: I have submitted an Early Decision application to one institution. However, before hearing back from that institution, I was awarded a scholarship to another university. While I can afford to pay full tuition to the school I applied ED, is there any way they would release me from the ED agreement because of the scholarship? Or is it possible to switch from early decision to regular decision?


From the wording of your question, “The Dean" assumes that you applied in the Early Decision II round and thus haven't gotten a response yet from your ED school. Correct?

If so, you can contact the college and asked to be switched into the Regular Decision applicant pool. (The college folks may ask for confirmation in writing.) But you better do it fast because the verdicts are probably being finalized this week or next, and once you have received your admission decision, you cannot get “released" from your ED commitment because of your scholarship to another college.


WARNING: If you switch to Regular Decision, the admission committee will obviously see that you aren't as eager to attend their school as you were when you first submitted your application. And this diminished enthusiasm might have a negative effect on your outcome. Acceptance odds are usually higher for ED candidates than for RD candidates (often significantly so), which means that a college that might have said Yes in the ED round may say No in the RD round. And this could be especially true for you because amending your status will be like waving a flag that proclaims, “I'm losing interest!" So, if you do decide to bail out on Early Decision and switch to Regular, you might want to tell your regional admissions rep that the change is “for financial reasons" and leave it at that. The admission committee should be more sympathetic to your new RD status if they think you're concerned about money and not merely a flaky teenager. Even so, the turnabout may mean bad news instead of good, unless you're clearly a strong candidate.

But if you're happy with the option to attend the university that has offered you a scholarship, then it would be wise to back off from the binding ED commitment because it sounds as if you're not sure now that you (or perhaps your parents?) really want to make it.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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