Early Decision and Financial Need

Early Action and Financial Aid, Financial Aid via Early Decision, Early Decision Financial Aid

Many applicants who need financial aid choose not to apply in the Early Decision and Early Action round, as an article in “Business Week” correctly points out.

There’s an article in “Business Week” entitled “Here’s One Way to Get Early Admission Into College: Be Rich” that we figured we’d discuss. The piece, authored by Janet Lorin, focuses on how many students are unable to apply during the Early Decision and Early Action rounds because they need to be able to compare financial aid packages. And this can really only be done during the Regular Decision round, when multiple offers are coming in (although it’s possible to apply to a couple of schools Early…depending on the restrictiveness of the Early Action program at play). Consequently, the article points out, these students don’t get to benefit from easier chances for admission in the Early round and now have to compete with so many other students for the remaining slots. After all, at many highly selective colleges, 50% of their incoming classes are already filled after the Early round.

The article focuses on one high school student in particular, Jackson Le. Jackson is a high school senior in Quincy, Massachusetts. His mother works as a manicurist at a nail salon after emigrating from Vietnam. Jackson himself works twenty hours a week at a local Starbucks. As Lorin writes, “Le has his sights on Boston University. Since he needs to shop around for the best financial aid possible, he didn’t apply there for early decision in the fall. The percentage of places filled early at Boston University has doubled to 20 percent over the past seven years. He envies wealthier classmates who are already broadcasting their acceptance letters on Twitter.”

But we have good news for Jackson. Highly selective college admissions officers will be rooting for him in the Regular Decision round, assuming he told his story correctly.  Admissions officers will eat up that his mom works as a manicurist, that he himself works 20 hours at Starbucks in the hope of paying for college. How can someone not root for that kid? Highly selective colleges love students who understand the values that come with working, with helping out their families. In fact, we often wonder why more students don’t work. Instead, they go on service trips and travel to foreign countries. Which only conveys that mom and dad have a lot of money. And who roots for those kids?


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