Although some colleges have recently done away with early decision, many colleges still use it. I have previously discussed the advantages and disadvantages of early decision. But, if you need financial aid, is early decision a good choice?
Early decision is binding so if you are accepted you are required to attend the college you applied to. As a result, you can’t compare financial aid offers. Would another college give you more money? You will never know if you apply early decision. It is true that you can get out of an early decision acceptance if the financial aid offered is not sufficient but who is to say what is sufficient aid?
Because early decision applicants are committed to the college, some colleges will give better financial aid to students who apply regular decision rather than early decision. But, so that things don’t get too easy, there are also some colleges that give better financial aid for students that do apply early decision. These colleges want to increase the number of students who commit early which is why they provide better financial aid.
So, if you need financial aid, how do you know which approach the colleges you are interested in take. You must do two things. First, you must understand college financial aid in general. I have talked about this many times before. Second, you need to contact the colleges in which you have an interest and ask them if they guarantee that the financial aid for early decision applicants is as good as that given to regular decision applicants. If not, do not apply early decision. If it is as good, or better, then you need to weigh whether early decision is right for you.