September 20, 2023

Early determination (ED) is when a school accepts a pupil months earlier than the common acceptance date. Though ED might help safe a spot at your high faculty, it comes with a catch: If accepted, you should attend that faculty.

This binding settlement could possibly be an issue for college students needing monetary help. For starters, ED prevents you from evaluating monetary help packages from a number of colleges.

Listed below are the fundamentals about early determination, monetary help and the best way to decide if ED is best for you.

1. You can’t compare financial aid packages
2. You might not get merit-based scholarships
3. You might still be waiting to hear from scholarship organizations
4. The applicant pool could be more competitive


Early decision versus early action
Is early decision worth it?

1. You may’t examine monetary help packages if you apply early determination

What does early determination imply? Principally, you choose only one faculty as your best choice for the autumn when applying for early decision (ED). Although you can apply to other colleges, you must agree to attend your ED school if accepted.

ED admission results are usually sent by December, far ahead of the typical March or April timeline for regular applications. Instead of stressing about college decisions in your final semester of high school, you can rest assured that you got in.

However, you won’t get the chance to compare financial aid packages with this approach. You’ll receive one offer and will have to take it or leave it. If the financial aid package falls short, you’ll likely need to take out student loans or break your binding agreement.

Fortunately, students can usually turn down an ED offer if the financial aid is too low, especially if the school’s cost of attendance is more than they can afford. But once you decline the ED admission, your offer disappears. You’ll never see how your dream school’s financial aid package compares with other colleges on your list.

2. You might not get merit-based scholarships

If you have your heart set on a particular school, applying early decision is one way to show enthusiasm. With this approach, you agree to attend if you’re accepted. Since colleges naturally want students to accept their admission offers, they tend to prefer ED applicants.

However, most colleges use merit aid to attract great students. Because of this, a college might not see the point in offering you merit aid since you’re already committed to attending.

In some cases, selecting a school through early decision might reduce your chances of receiving a merit-based scholarship.

3. You might still be waiting to hear from scholarship organizations

Along with financial aid, you’re probably pursuing scholarships to help lower your college costs. The problem is that some scholarship organizations don’t notify students of their awards until the spring of their senior year.

With ED, you must accept a school’s offer well before the typical May 1 decision day. For low-income students, this deadline might feel too rushed to decide on a college.

If you’re relying on scholarship money to pay for college, applying early decision might not be the best financial move.

4. The applicant pool could be more competitive

Statistics show that ED applicants are accepted at a higher rate than those who apply via regular decision. For instance, John Hopkins University typically has an acceptance rate of 9%, but this jumps to 31% for ED students.

However, the ED pool tends to include highly-qualified candidates who can put together solid applications in the fall of their senior year. Overall, the early decision process is believed to have the most competitive applicants, possibly making it harder for your application to stand out.

If you’re rushing to apply, you might be better off waiting for a later deadline. Although using ED can work in your favor, it’s generally not worth it if you send a subpar application just to meet an early deadline.

Early decision versus early action

Early decision is often confused with early action, since they both have early deadlines (typically in November) compared to regular college admissions. However, there are key distinctions between the two application processes:

  • Early decision (ED): You submit your early decision application by the school’s deadline and typically receive results in December. If accepted, you must attend that school and withdraw other college applications. You can decline the offer only if the financial aid package isn’t enough to meet your financial needs.
  • Early action (EA): You apply early and typically receive a response by January or February. You’re not obligated to accept this offer and have until the national deadline (May 1) to respond.

The main benefit of early action is receiving an early acceptance, which ultimately saves time and energy from applying to more colleges. However, certain schools, such as Harvard and Princeton, only allow you to pursue one college for early action, although you may apply using regular decision for other schools.

In general, early action allows more flexibility when choosing your future college. You can wait for multiple offers, comparing tuition, financial aid packages and other pros and cons. With early decision, you’re locked into attending that school, even if you receive a better offer at another school.

Is early decision worth it?

Most experts agree that ED leads to higher chances of acceptance to college. But applying early decision also prevents you from comparing multiple financial aid packages.

If you’re interested in applying for early decision, make sure these four statements are true for you:

You’re ready to use elsewhere in case your monetary help package deal falls brief. Although early determination is binding, you’ll be able to flip down a proposal if it has an inadequate monetary help package deal. Put together for a Plan B state of affairs by submitting functions to backup colleges. Though you’ll be able to submit just one ED software, you’ll be able to ship a number of functions underneath the common admissions plan. (Simply remember to withdraw these functions if you happen to settle for your ED supply).