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Parent suddenly not onboard with ED agreement?

OrangeD00DOrangeD00D Registered User Posts: 394 Member
edited November 2012 in Parents Forum
Hi, I have a bit of a situation that I need some help with. I'm hoping for a parent's perspective, but I'm not sure if this is the right place for me to be posting. If it's not, I'll request it to be moved. :)

About a month ago I approached my mom about applying ED to Columbia. I told her if I got in I'd have to go (I told her this several times). I showed her the pamphlets they mailed home (several times) and she was on board. My dad was a lot more enthusiastic and helped me complete the ED agreement the same day I showed the pamphlets to him. He loves the financial aid packages and is OK with paying for me to go to such a prestigious school.

However, recently I got a letter from Kenyon College in Ohio, announcing their merit scholarships (they say they're full and half tuition) and my mom wants me to apply there now, too.

I told her the potential conflict, if I get in then I'll have to pull out of my Kenyon app. She insists that I never talked to her about the ED agreement and insists that "there is a way out of it" -- which I'm skeptical about. I know Columbia let's you leave if FA isn't enough, but again, I'm really skeptical.

I'd love to go to either school, but Columbia is my #1 choice, hence why I applied ED. I get that she wants me to go where the most financial aid is, and I do, too, but I can't put Columbia on hold for the three or four months it might take for Kenyon to get back to me. I picked Columbia specifically after researching their financial aid, and discussing it extensively (or trying to) with my mom and my dad.

I'm not sure what to do here. She seems dead set on me going to Kenyon for their scholarships, or at least waiting on Columbia first. She's been dragging her feet with the applications and financial aid information, and eventually paid my father (they're divorced) to do it for her. I had to ask her three times to fax over the tax forms to Columbia. I'm not sure what to make of this.

My mom has been supportive but she's also been inattentive through the whole thing. Whenever I tried to talk to her about FA she always gives me the "we'll pay for it somehow," which isn't good enough for me. I don't want my parents or me to get saddled with debt after I graduate.

I'm not sure how to go here, on the chance that I do get into Columbia. Am I worrying too much? I want to avoid anything that may risk my Columbia acceptance, should I get in, and would like to get it ahead of time. How should I approach my mom about it, and what should I do?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I hope I can work this out with your help. :)
Post edited by OrangeD00D on

Replies to: Parent suddenly not onboard with ED agreement?

  • ModadunnModadunn Registered User Posts: 6,263 Senior Member
    Are your parents divorced? Or is your dad still on board but your mom isn't?

    Columbia and Kenyon are two very very different environments.
  • OrangeD00DOrangeD00D Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    My parents are divorced. My dad is still on board and would like me to go to Columbia over Kenyon (he isn't fond of LACs like Kenyon). While I'm sure he'd like me to go there with no cost to our family, he'd rather pay a bit more for me to get a degree from a school like Columbia. My mom, however, is focused purely on the financial side, and is no longer on board. I see both sides and can get what they're thinking.

    I know they're two different environments, but I like them both. Columbia, though, is a clear number one. I wouldn't mind going to either, but given the option, I'd pick Columbia. The issue is that my mom isn't on board anymore, she wants to wait to see what Kenyon will say, which I think may be too late for Columbia and will get me in trouble.

    I don't want to risk my acceptance at Columbia (nor another college) so I want to find a solution soon.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 64,438 Senior Member
    OrangeD00D wrote:
    Whenever I tried to talk to her about FA she always gives me the "we'll pay for it somehow," which isn't good enough for me.

    Red flag!

    This means that she may have overpromised what she can pay; her pushing Kenyon may be a backhanded way of getting you into a college that she can afford to pay, or at least will strain her finances less.

    Another possibility is that she and your father are fighting about who should pay how much to your college and have not come up to an agreement that will cover the estimated family contribution at Columbia.
    OrangeD00D wrote:
    I don't want my parents or me to get saddled with debt after I graduate.

    Until you can convince your parents to talk to you about the actual limits of what they are able and willing to contribute, you are unlikely to be able to solve the problem. With cost and financial aid uncertainty, it is probably inappropriate to apply ED anywhere. It also means that you should include some very inexpensive (after assured need or merit money) safety schools, in case your parents' actual ability to contribute is much less than what they are leading you to believe.

    Perhaps you can tell her that you understand that times are tough economically, and that you are willing to drop applying ED if affordability is uncertain, but that you need to know the financial limitations in order to make your application list.

    Kenyon's cost of attendance is about $54,760 per year, of which $42,780 is tuition. The full tuition scholarship would leave a residual cost of $11,980 per year, while the half tuition scholarship would leave a residual cost of $33,370 per year. Of course, the scholarships are not guaranteed. Kenyon does claim to meet full need, although if your parents cannot afford the expected family contribution, meeting full need will still leave you short.
  • OrangeD00DOrangeD00D Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    Thank you for the insight, ucbalumnus. I read that here on the forums, that a "we'll pay for it somehow" is usually a pipe dream. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and by that time I had already submitted my ED application. I trusted my mom's decision and financial making, and especially my dad's. I don't have a concern on my dad's part, he's always been upfront and went through the stats and all that.

    I think I'm going to talk with my mom and dad, and see what we can do, and hopefully get some hard numbers from them both. Hopefully we can have a plan ironed out and hope the dice roll in our favor when it comes to FA and have a contingency plan if the FA isn't enough. Thank you for your input, both ucbalumnus and Modadunn, and I'll keep you both posted.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    The full tuition scholarships at Kenyon are on a competitive basis and generally given to very few students. There is a financial aid out for ED. If you don't get into Columbia, apply to Kenyon and a few other schools, you should apply to those other schools anyway in case the financial aid money doesn't come through for you at Columbia. You need to get your parents to figure out a dollar amount of what they can pay so you can make an informed decision.
  • YankeedoodlesYankeedoodles Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
    Columbia, as you know, is a highly selective school. You don't know if you will get in or not. You also don't know what kind of FA package they will offer you. Not applying to any other school because you've applied some place ED doesn't make sense. I think you should apply to Kenyon as your mom is telling you to, and wait for Columbia's response next month and take it from there. One of the 3 scenarios can happen. a) You get accepted into Columbia and FA package is generous and acceptable to your parents, hence you withdraw your app to Kenyon. b) You get rejected from Columbia. You wait for Kenyon's response. c) You get accepted by Columbia and FA package is not very generous ... you can do one of the two things at that point ... talk to your parents to see if they will cover the balance ... if yes, you are set ... if no, you decline Columbia's offer and request to be released from ED agreement on the basis of unacceptable FA package ... you wait for Kenyon's response. Either way, I think you should apply to not only Kenyon but to some other places as well.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,170 Senior Member
    At the moment, all you have from any of these schools is marketing material. Getting into Columbia -- ED or RD -- and getting a substantial merit scholarship at Kenyon are both things that are hypercompetitive. You can't plan on achieving either in advance. So in addition to whatever you do about the Columbia ED application, you need to be applying someplace you know that your parents and you can afford and that will likely accept you. But you knew that, right?

    As for Columbia: If you get accepted ED, you will go to your mother and say, "Here's a fabulous opportunity for me, and I really want to take it. My dad agrees. Here's how much it will cost, here's what I am going to do to contribute, here's what dad will contribute, and here's what I need from you. I can turn this down now, but I can't keep it open -- if I don't say yes, now, I'm saying no. I don't want to wait and see what happens at Kenyon because (1) I think Columbia is a better college for me, (2) if I don't get one of the four or five top scholarships at Kenyon it will be more expensive than Columbia, and (3) getting accepted at Columbia is a huge achievement, its one of the four or five toughest colleges in America to get an acceptance from, and I don't want to turn my back on that without a guarantee that what's behind Door #2 is at least as good or better. Here's some reading material for you about Columbia, Kenyon, and their tuition and financial aid. After you have read it, tell me if you really think I should throw away my opportunity at Columbia for a chance at a scholarship at Kenyon."

    It's not likely she will make you withdraw.

    What's more likely, though, is that you will get deferred at Columbia. So, then, if you are accepted RD at both colleges, you can compare their financial aid packages and decide which one you want. Good luck! I hope you are in a position where you have to worry about Columbia vs. Kenyon for real.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Registered User Posts: 7,304 Senior Member
    Orange - Your understanding of the ED process is accurate. Your mother's isn't. But, from what you've told us, it's only a guess that her problem with Columbia is the cost. It may be that she just doesn't want you all the way on the other side of the country. Or it may be that once your father said, "yes," she had to say, "no", no matter what you told her. Or it could be that she's just not ready for you to leave home, period . . . and she wants to postpone the entire process as long as possible.

    I'd suggest doing a couple of things:

    (1) Make a list of all the schools you're applying to, and show it to her.
    (2) Run the net price calculators for those schools with her.
    (3) Make a large, easy to understand chart showing exactly what your options will be if Columbia accepts or defers you. Sometimes it's easier to understand something when you can see it.

    I don't know how much any of this will help . . . but it's a start.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,046 Senior Member
    Lots of good advice here, so just chiming into to add a few thoughts.

    Most students continue their apps at other school while they wait for an ED decision, so you can, and should work on apps to Kenyon and other schools while you wait for a decision from Columbia.

    The Kenyon competitive scholarship is just one possibility -- remote at best. The best of the best are competing for those, and just because your stats may place you at the high end of admitted students at Kenyon, for instance, that is hardly an assurance that you would get the full or half tuition scholarship.

    I am betting that expenses at Columbia and Kenyon are pretty similar, so the difference is going to be financial aid packages plus the small chance of a substantial merit award from Kenyon.

    Your mom needs to sit down with you and be honest about her concerns. What has changed? Maybe her college savings account has shrunk in the market, or she is worried about job security, or if there are younger sibs in the picture, she is starting to appreciate how the eldest student's situation can impact younger kids' opportunities. None of like to share with our children the impact of our financial planning, but an honest conversation needs to be had. I know it is more complicated in the dual family contribution situation, and different schools may have different policies. But she can at least work on schools' net price calculators to see where she falls, realistically, even if she is not comfortable talking about exactly how much money is in which accounts.

    Lastly, you should be looking for true financial safeties -- schools you will get into, can afford to go to, and would be happy going to. For many students, this is their state flagship public school.

    Good luck, this is a stressful time without adding into the mix dualing parent messages.
  • MarsianMarsian Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    The above posters give you some very good advice. The only thing I will add is that it would probably be helpful to talk to your parents together, if that's something that they could do calmly.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 25,344 Senior Member
    Someone completed the finaid apps for your ED, right? And you previously ran the NPC for Columbia? If you pull out of Columbia because FA isn't enough, at that point you won't even know how likely another school is to offer a better package. I'm all for ED when he family is savvy about what they can afford and how they could possibly stretch the buudget, but this sounds vague. When a parent or both make promises to fund your education, they have to know what dollars this can amount to.

    If you make the chart DMom suggests, you have to look at merit as only a "possibility," unless a college guarantees it for certain stats. And, you have to understand that many merit opps are for kids they most want to matriculate- your application has to be competitive.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,170 Senior Member
    While it's tempting here to talk down the likelihood of a merit scholarship at Kenyon -- and I have done it, too -- in the interest of honest analysis it's worth pointing out that if the OP's application turns out to be compelling enough to gain admission to Columbia ED, it is likely to be a strong contender for a merit scholarship at Kenyon. Kenyon is a great college, and I respect the heck out of it, but I don't think it has a deep pool of applicants who look like Columbia ED admits.
  • younghossyounghoss Registered User Posts: 3,033 Senior Member
    I'll add a couple of thoughts, too. Posters before me (and I'm sure after me) will give you sound advice about the cost. And, no, if you actually turn down an ed acceptance, they don't throw you in jail.
    My thoughts on this post addresses the honor and integrity that theoretically goes with an ED app. The school expects that a student has carefully checked the costs and has run the numbers, and that, with other factors has led him to make the ED school his absolute first choice. In exchange, the school will give him (some degree) of preferential treatment for consideration of his acceptance. Some feel that knowing the student's interest and promise in advance, the school may offer a lesser fin aid package. Be aware of that possibility. The theory continues that the student is promising that if accepted, he will enroll.
    The intent of ED is Not to get accepted then shop around for other schools and better deals. Basically, and Ed app says to the school- if accepted I will enroll.
    There are rare exceptions that are legitimate, and there are a couple of loopholes for those who are comfortable with reneging "by hook or by crook". Generally speaking, if you cannot pay full price(minus any guaranteed grant monies, perhaps due to your stats) then don't make the promise. To say-- I promise to enroll if accepted, if, of course, I like the fin aid package-- is NOT the promise an ED school expects.
    I recommend to you that if integrity means anything to you and your family that you have a careful discussion with parents and only apply ED if you are willing and able to make the committment. If a lot hinges on the fin aid package, then you really can't comply with the --if accepted I will enroll-- expectation.

    many on this forum often recommend EA rather than ED
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,635 Senior Member
    I recommend to you that if integrity means anything to you and your family that you have a careful discussion with parents and only apply ED if you are willing and able to make the committment.

    However, it is not unethical to withdraw an ED application at any time before the ED notification date.

    If the OP's parent is adamantly opposed to having the OP apply ED to Columbia after having learned about possible merit scholarship opportunities elsewhere, there is still time for the OP to withdraw his/her Columbia application.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 25,344 Senior Member
    The bit about schools offering less aid to ED kids comes up a lot. Folks should be aware that's a possibility, not a given. It depends on how the school calculates need- and meets it.

    But, YES, you should be going into this eyes open. How much do you really know about Columbia and Kenyon?
This discussion has been closed.