The fallacy of the ED arguement
It seems that I have read quite a bit about how unfair ED is to low and middle income applicants. I find that these arguments don't hold a lot of water with me. For example:
Applicant applies ED to Vanderbilt and is subsequently accepted, before making a choice to accept the admittance to Vanderbilt, the college will send the applicant their FA package. Based on the FA package the applicant can either choose to attend or reject the university. This will be done before any RD admits are announced at other private colleges, both in the case of ED1 and 2. The applicant has a choice to make, can they pay whatever is left after FA or not, if not, they are left in basically the same position if they had applied RD to every college (with the exception that Vanderbilt is eliminated). Now the applicant has to wait on RD decisions from all other colleges, and admits at that point and the applicant can compare FA packages and possibly negotiate FA based on other admittances.
While I understand that the leverage moves away from the applicant in the case of the ED admit, it doesn't make it "unfair" IMO. Having said that I always would like the leverage on my side but that is what you give up in an ED admission. Again if the applicant doesn't feel the FA package is good enough then they still have the option of negotiating (albeit not very likely to get any more with no other admittances to compare against, but if they are a very desirable applicant it is not impossible), and they still have the ultimate veto power of rejecting the college and waiting for the RD round. Finally, for very low income students, all of the top colleges are going to grant almost all of the applicants need minus some summer work/work study.