In the case of early decision round, you are allowed to apply to only one school, because if you apply to multiple schools, and one of the schools decides to admit you, then you are in a dilemma.
Therefore, you are required to apply early for the financial aid. To be eligible for financial aid – you need to meet the deadlines early.
If you choose this option – you will be notified early, regarding your admissions, but it does not commit you to take admissions. You will have ample time to take your final decision (until May). Most schools will mail you the details of the financial aid by April.
Colleges that use rolling admissions offer early action. You have to apply for the financial aid, like a normal admission.
You can accept the aid package, as it doesn’t commit you to apply. The schools will try to put pressure on you and ask you to take instant decision, but if the colleges ask you to take admissions, then you should ignore them, and take your own time to decide.
The smartest way to deal with this situation is to call the school and ask for an extension.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROUNDS
Let us understand the significance of these rounds from the perspective of financial aid.
If, you have a moderate to high need, then the early decision round can turn out to be a big gamble for you, because you are committing yourself to the school without having an idea about the financial aid offered by them. It is just like agreeing to buy a luxury car, without having an idea about the price and the discounts offered by the manufacturer.
Even, if they offer you a financial aid which satisfies your need – you might find yourself in a tricky situation, as these schools will not improvise on the aid package, because you have already committed to the school.
In the worst case – if, the Financial Admission Officer offers you with a low financial aid, then there is always a way to get out of the situation. However, this will leave you with a very limited time in which you will have to apply to other schools. In any case it’s you will end up losing, may it be money or time.
Suppose, you are accepted – Yet, you have to apply for similar schools, because multiple acceptances will put you in a position to bargain with the Financial Admission Officer.
In this case, most colleges will you under pressure, to accept their admission offer, but you should never accept the offer as it will keep your options limited. Take your time, and wait for the financial aid packages offered by other schools. In an extreme case, you can fight back and ask the college for an extension.
THE EARLY READ
Some schools will entice you by saying – “we can calculate your Expected Family Contribution” very early i.e., during the fall – conditioned; you submit your financial data in time.
This strategy is called as early read, but it has its own disadvantages, because you give the Financial Admission Officers complete control over the financial aid process. An early read will ensure that, your aid package is fixed, and it will be very hard to change the package.
We recommend you to do your own calculations and determine the EFC using your worksheets, or consult a financial expert.