Breaking out of an ED agreement?

<p>Although Penn promises that it will meet 100% of your need, what Penn deems your family can pay may differ from what you can actually afford. While I am considering applying ED, I am concerned what would happen in the event my family cannot cough up what Penn requires. I am a legacy so it would be beneficial for me to apply ED, but it would be detrimental for me to not be able to compare financial aid. My question is, if you are an ED applicant who discovers, upon being accepted, that you cannot afford the tuition, how do you break out of the ED agreement? Do you need to provide documentation, proving that your family cannot finance a Penn education, or, do they pretty much just take your word for it? Is it true that if you break an ED agreement that you are only permitted to apply to state schools? Would breaking an ED agreement with Penn affect your chances with competitive to mid-range private schools?</p>

<p>Your better off calling Penn about your concerns than asking people like me, but I'll tell you what I think. I've heard that Penn will let you out of ED if your parents can't afford to pay. Keep in mind that schools expect your parents to use more than their net income to pay for their kid's education. For example, your parents may own $500,000 in stock that they don't want to sell. Penn will see that as an asset to pay for college. So there's a difference between "can't afford to pay" and "won't pay." If your parents truly can't afford to pay, and if Penn won't up your FA, then they will let you out of the ED. However, if your parents just won't pay, then they won't. </p>

<p>Before you apply ED, do the on-line FAFSA with your parents listing all information. At the end, you will see an number that your parents should be willing to contribute. If they disagree or simply won't pay that amount, don't apply ED. Penn's calculations usually are higher than the federal figure (meaning they think your parents can afford to pay more), so if your parents won't pay the on-ling number then, the forget about Penn. </p>

<p>If you break an ED commitment and Penn won't release you, the other Ivies won't accept you, but your biggest problem may be with your guidance counselor. Our counselors wouldn't send in any of the required information to RD schools (transcripts, grades, recommendations, etc.) if a student broke an ED commitment. They tell you that up front. This is another reason to think long and hard about ED.</p>

<p>This is a pretty controversial issue and there is not a clear cut answers to the questions. IMO, as far as I am concerned, breaking an ED agreement is always possible by a student. There is no way a school can force someone to come to the school when he/she claims that the financial aid provided is not enough for the respective family to pay the rest of the bill. The obvious consequence of ED acceptance is the loss of leverage you will have to negotiate and the inability compare FA against other offers even from other comparable schools. The latter is due to the fact that you have to accept or decline ED acceptance way before you get RD decision from other schools that you might apply to. This usually happens around late December or early January and RD decision usually comes much later in Spring. You may able to extend the ED acceptance deadline a bit, but many have reported that schools do share list of students that have been accepted ED and it may negatively effect you RD decisions at other schools.</p>

<p>Usually the recommendation is to do the estimated EFC and if your family is very comfortable with the resulting EFC amount, a school like Penn who supposed to meet full need should be good candidate for ED provided that it is the school that you will be happy to attend if you are accepted. Note that Penn may/will assess a bigger number than the federal EFC amount in many cases with their own special calculation, this is where your loss of leverage can really hurt you. Penn ED seems to give some boost to the acceptance chance but getting stuck with a situation where your family cannot afford to pay might be something you want to avoid first.</p>