Is the advance ruling binding?
- When you apply to a school under an early decision plan, you agree to attend if it is accepted.
- If the school’s financial support is not sufficient, you may be able to find other resources to fill the gap.
- Although contingency plans are binding, it is possible to reverse the deal if you ultimately can’t afford it.
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When you apply to a college under its advance ruling admission policy, you are committing to attend that school if you are successful. However, if after being accepted you find that you cannot pay for it, you have options. We will show you how to assess your financial aid and find additional resources if they are not sufficient to cover all the costs.
What is an advance ruling?
Advance ruling is an option you have to apply for college. ED plans are binding which means if you are accepted you agree to attend that school and withdraw applications from all others. A common exception is if the financial assistance you receive is not enough to afford the cost of your school.
You can only apply to one ED school, so the option is best for students who are set on where they want to attend. All of your other applications should be submitted as part of regular admission or early action plans.
Under ED, you will receive your admission decision earlier than the usual notification date, often in December. Schools frequently accept ED applicants at a rate higher than their overall admission rate.
You will not be able to compare financial aid offers with ED. This means you might be missing out on a better deal elsewhere if you get into a school early. For low-income students who might want to evaluate multiple packages to find the one that works best for them, ED is probably not the best option. However, keep in mind that a school will try to best meet your financial needs.
About 450 colleges have early decision or early action plans, according to the College Council.
What happens after my DE application is accepted?
After you are accepted into a school, their financial aid office will send you details of the help available to you. The package can include several types of aid, usually based on your financial needs as determined by the free federal student aid app.
- Subsidies: Grants are one of the best forms of financial assistance because you don’t have to pay them back. They are often awarded on the basis of exceptional financial need or to those who belong to a designated group. There are also federal grants for certain subsets of students, which the Department of Education describes. here.
- Scholarships: You also won’t have to repay scholarships, which are often awarded based on academic merit, athletic talent, or other achievement. The scholarships are offered by your school itself, and the amount available depends on the school.
- Study of work: Work-study programs provide part-time jobs for students in financial need to earn money for their studies. Jobs can include positions such as library receptionists and research assistants. The amount of money you receive will depend on when you apply, your level of financial need, and the funds your school has.
- Subsidized loans: These loans are offered on the basis of financial need and you have to repay them. The government pays the interest on your loan while you are in school, so it does not accumulate while you are in school or during a six month grace period after graduation before you are due to start to repay your loan in full.
- Unsubsidized loans: These loans do not take into account financial needs. Interest starts accruing as soon as you take out the loan and continues to accrue during your six-month grace period. It is a more expensive option than a subsidized loan.
- Direct PLUS Loans: These loans do not take into account financial need and require a credit check. Graduate and professional students, as well as parents of undergraduate students can take out Direct PLUS loans. Interest accrues during school and during a six-month grace period.
After reviewing the breakdown of financial aid offers, you should have a good idea of whether you can afford school or if you need more money to pay for tuition. Above all, Yesyou don’t have to accept all the help we offer. Focus on “gift aids” like scholarships and grants first, study-work second, and student loans last.
How can I bridge the financial gap if I can’t afford to pay?
If your financial aid is not enough to afford the cost of your ED school, consider these options before giving up attending college.
Negotiate for more financial aid
It is likely that your ED school will make its best offer when you first submit your financial aid. You also won’t have offers from other schools to use in negotiations, which will limit your bargaining power.
However, you will never know what you might get if you don’t ask for it. A college may offer you more financial assistance if you explain special circumstances, such as a loss of family employment or a medical emergency.
Search for scholarships and external grants
Local organizations are often a good place to start your research, as the pool of competitors is usually smaller than for flashier national exchanges. You can also talk to your guidance counselor, visit your state’s financial aid portal, and find occupational groups related to your field of study.
Be sure to contact your college financial aid office to see if they will allow you to stack scholarships and private grants in addition to the help offered by the college. Sometimes a college will deduct any assistance you receive from a private source from the amount of grant or scholarship assistance it offers you.
Think about the private student ready
Federal student loans are a better option than private student loans. Federal student loans have better interest rates and come with a level of protection that private lenders don’t. But if you still can’t afford the cost of your school, you might consider taking out a private student loan.
What are the next steps if I can’t afford school?
If you have determined that your financial aid is not large enough for you to attend school, let the school know that you are reneging on your ED promise.
Once you are out of your ED commitment, you should continue to apply to other schools as part of regular decision plans. You will have to move relatively quickly. Most ED decisions are made in mid-December, and many regular ruling requests end at the end of December, leaving you only a few weeks to submit further requests.
You will hear from most of these schools in March or April, with financial help coming soon after the letters of acceptance. You can then compare each school’s financial aid offers and see which offer is the most affordable. You may be able to take advantage of one school’s offer to get more financial aid from another.
While ED is binding in most cases, it is not a legal agreement, which means that you will not experience any legal repercussions if you waive the agreement. If you can’t afford the school you enrolled in, try to negotiate additional financial aid. If that doesn’t work, you still have the option to move on to other schools.