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Early Decision – Financial Aid
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You have found your dream school, a college with the exact program, size and location that you've been searching for. Confident with your selection, you decide to get a jump on admissions and apply early. However, this might not be a shrewd idea, particularly if you have financial need.
Under the early decision policy, an applicant applies to a single college and commits to enrolling if accepted. The benefit is that you can be admitted to your first choice before the holidays and forgo all other applications (not to mention time, money and stress). But there is a considerable downside.
You must wait until January 1st to apply for federal student aid. And while you wait, application deadlines for other schools start to pass. When your award finally arrives, if it doesn't adequately cover your need, your options are few. The school will surely release you from your commitment, but by that time, freshman classes at other schools will be filling and the aid pool will be getting smaller.
Apply early decision only if you are absolutely certain about your choice of school and only if financial aid is NOT a concern.
On the other hand, admission via early action is non–binding. While you can bask in the joy of an acceptance, you're still able to apply to other schools in a timely manner. And you'll have plenty of opportunity to compare multiple award packages.