Financial Pros and Cons of Early Decision College Admissions

An early decision (ED) college application allows your child to apply to their preferred school in November before regular applications are due. If accepted, your child commits to attending that school and withdrawing applications from other schools. Your child may need to confirm and accept an ED offer before receiving the financial aid package, though, which might be challenging for your family. Weigh the financial pros and cons of early decisions as you make the best college choice for your child and family.

Financial Pros of Early Decision

A few schools do include financial aid details in an ED acceptance package. With this information, your family can analyze the award and choose if the school tuition is affordable. But even if you don’t know financial aid details, ED can be a wise choice for several reasons.

1. Attend a dream school. Sometimes, the investment in your child’s future outweighs financial concerns.

2. Exercise your financial freedom. ED is a smart choice if finances aren’t an option. For example, if you have a well-funded 529 plan or significant resources and don’t need financial aid, then ED makes sense.

3. Negotiate a better deal. You may also be able to negotiate a better financial aid package with your ED school. In cases, schools are willing to work with students who are passionate about the school and a good fit for the community.

4. Reject an ED offer. Some schools do allow ED applicants to reject the offer if the financial aid package they receive is not feasible. You can ask about this detail before applying.

Financial Cons of Early Decision

Generally, schools require students to submit early decision applications and accept an offer before financial aid deadlines. That means you won’t have details about a financial aid package as your child chooses whether or not to accept the offer. Here are other financial aid cons to consider with ED.

1. Accept financial strain. You’ll need to carefully review all the costs, from tuition to laboratory services, as you consider whether or not a school is affordable.

2. Give up negotiation power. By choosing the binding ED acceptance, you cannot use financial aid offers from other schools as leverage to get more financial aid from your top choice. So, decide if you’re willing to give up negotiation power.

3. Have a backup plan. Be prepared to apply to other schools and meet their deadlines if you choose ED and do not get enough financial aid.

4. Save adequate financial resources. Your family will need to create a financial plan that allows your child to afford higher education at their preferred school.

Final Thoughts About Financial Aid and ED

Early decision is an invaluable option for high school seniors, but it may not match your family’s financial aid needs. We’re here to help you create a plan to pay for college. Contact us to discuss ED and your financial aid options.