I actually made a thread on that subject before. Another poster responded with a similar post, but here's something I overlooked:
While comparing aid packages is not something that should be overlooked, what if the boost from applying ED is what could make or break the deal for one? It could be that one is on that fine line between being admitted or rejected...
Why not go ED, if it's a school one would love to attend
and in case one's need is not met (i.e, it's a package that would make things impossible
), one can still decline the offer and apply elsewhere in the RD round.
People often argue that applying early does not really affect one's chances. I think that while this may well be true at some of the most selective colleges (Yale explicitly states that a student who got in early would have gotten in RD; that is not to say that I am not skeptical about that statement, but I'll leave it at that) and those colleges that defer (or ask them to apply RD) international applicants requiring aid, it's likely different at most liberal arts colleges.
Quite a few claim to meet the full need of international applicants, and it would appear to me that some CC members have used this strategy in the past, and it seems to have worked for them. Granted, applying RD for an opportunity to compare aid packages is sound advice, but it looks like apply ED may well give one a leg up in the admissions process. Small LAC + much fewer applicants ED...why would one's odds of getting in be any less?
I don't know how reliable this source is, but a 77% (this number will be much lower for international students?) acceptance rate out of a pool of 442 (!) applicants, is surely better than competing with another 5220, no? Among those 5220, it's likely that there's gonna be more international applicants. Gettysburg College Admissions Information - CollegeData College Profile
According to this, 43% of the class applied ED. I reckon that this includes admitted students who were deferred. Gettysburg College - Class Profile & Statistics
Note: Pretty tired right now. My apologies if I sound funny...