At first, I was completely set on applying ED -- 100% sure, no turning back, absolutely positive. I visited the school, and it turned out to be the university of my dreams. In my mind, the beauty of the campus easily surpassed that of all the others. Then there were the classes. Perhaps I went overboard, but I took complete advantage of their class-sitting policy, attending at least 6 classes - maybe 7 - during my brief visit. As I sat in these classes, my idealized image of the school became a reality. I could truly see myself fitting in.
The obvious thing would be to apply early decision. It raises my chances from "just alright," to "very likely." It confirms my true love for UPenn, and it seems like the clear choice -- the proven winner -- in order to gain passage to my dream school.
But, here's the twist: I'm not sure I can "afford" applying E.D.
And I need your help to resolve this looming question.
Some people have alluded that E.D. is a binding contract that only rich people can afford. From a financial-aid standpoint, they've also stated some things that I'd like clarification on:
1. If I'm accepted E.D. to Wharton, but decline because their financial-aid offer is too low, I've been told a very horrible process follows: UPenn and other schools share E.D. information, they'll hear that I declined a "contract," and I will not get into any of the other prestigious schools I'm applying to during EA or RD.
2. If I'm accepted E.D. to Wharton, but decline for the same reason, I will NOT be able to receive financial-aid offers from other schools during EA and RD. In essence, not only will I have to withdraw from Wharton because of a lack of aid, but I will not receive any information regarding aid from other schools.
3. This is a different type of question regarding how financial-aid is calculated (in this case, I suppose specifically to UPenn, but I'd also like to understand it generally as well.)
- I'm in a very unique situation. My parents make a decent middle-class income (135k combined, roughly), however we have enormous home loans. Moreover, our main asset is our house, and we have no real assets aside from it. Our house is worth roughly 1 million, but my parents purchased this home quite some years ago when it was much cheaper. In any case, loans are roughly 650k. If you subtract our assets from our loans, my parents have roughly 300k to retire on (which in itself is low --> I can't leech from this). Moreover, they are near the end of their working years (I fear this is not accounted for in FA. Is age of parents counted?)
- Here's my question. We appear to be well off. We have maybe 1.2 million in assets, and the household generates 135k in income. However, the reality of our financial state is much more grim. Somehow - maybe I read this, or picked it up somewhere - I'm getting the feeling that home loans are not included in the calculation of financial-aid. I hope that I am sincerely wrong about this - but of course, that's why I'm asking. If home loans and debt are not subtracted from assets (mainly our house) in calculating FA, then I am royally screwed. I need a very large FA package.
-- Moreover, if answers to my prior questions (1. and 2.) indicate that all of this is true, then I have absolutely no way of applying E.D. to Wharton, do I? This would subsequently be extrapolated as: I'm unlikely to get into Upenn because I'll have to apply RD to a school that I would naturally demonstrate interest for by apply E.D. (under the correct financial circumstances.)
Modified as: Unless you have zero assets and a low income, financial-aid is hard to come by. Moreover, unless you're rich, you cannot afford to apply E.D...
Some clarification from anyone nice enough to answer?
Last edited by moltobene18; 06-21-2012 at 05:27 PM.
I hate to say it but your home value will significantly hurt your chances for FA. Think about it this way lets say applying RD allows you to cross shop FA offers and end up saving 5-10K a year on tuition, total that up over 4 years and you are at 20-40K which is quite a chunk of change. Additionally if you are an un-qualified applicant you will not be admitted regardless if it is ED or RD. I can guarantee that most if not all applicants who applied ED would have been admitted RD. On the surface it may seem that ED is easier but when you dig deeper it becomes apparent because the applicant pool is alot more competitive.
1) Penn is usually pretty generous with financial aid from what my friends have told me
2) If you can't attend for financial reasons, you can get out of the binding ED status. ED is definitely not just for the rich
3) I did not qualify for FA but I honestly can't imagine a 650K mortgage would not be factored in when calculating your expected contribution.
Thanks for the response, Ivygolfer. I am a qualified candidate, but unlike SAS, Wharton admissions are especially bleak regardless of how impressive a candidate you are. I believe that my app is compelling enough that, given an E.D. application, I would have a good chance of getting in (I would not apply otherwise.) Sure, I could wait and hear back from a number of other excellent schools, but I might lose the chance to attend such a unique vocational institution where I can truly focus on my passion with much less noise.
"1) Penn is usually pretty generous with financial aid from what my friends have told me"
-I fear this generosity would be limited by my peculiar financial situation.
Any idea on how "bowing out" of an E.D. contract affects admissions at other schools? I've heard terrible things! But I'm looking to demystify this, and find out whether or not it's a myth.
"2) If you can't attend for financial reasons, you can get out of the binding ED status. ED is definitely not just for the rich"
-Same issue above. Also, any idea whether this prevents me from seeing FA packages from schools in the RD cycle (assuming I can't afford Penn)
"3) I did not qualify for FA but I honestly can't imagine a 650K mortgage would not be factored in when calculating your expected contribution."
I hope so. It's been hard to find information about this, but I'll keep trying.
Last edited by moltobene18; 06-22-2012 at 12:51 AM.
"1. If I'm accepted E.D. to Wharton, but decline because their financial-aid offer is too low, I've been told a very horrible process follows: UPenn and other schools share E.D. information, they'll hear that I declined a "contract," and I will not get into any of the other prestigious schools I'm applying to during EA or RD."
ED does not involve a contract; it's an honor-system agreement with possible consequences, but declining a too-low FA offer does not trigger retribution from other schools.
If school B has a larger endowment than school A, and can therefore offer more FA than school A, school B doesn't care a whit if you had to decline school A's offer; you might be able to afford school B's offer.
Some schools do communicate re ED applicants, and if you declined school A's FA offer, then school B may see no point in offering you the same amount of aid at RD time; if you couldn't afford school A, then you can't afford school B either.
Anyone experienced in FA want to weigh in?
- How does your house as an asset, or home loans as a liability, impact your FA package (if at all)?
- How does the age of your parents (60+) impact your FA package (if at all)? Especially, if they are retiring in a few years.
I don't think any of that factors in, to be honest, but you can explain the special circumstances on the financial aid application so that they understand your situation. I would call the university financial aid office and ask though, since they would know better than anybody who is on here.