ED vs EA for recruited athlete

Hi all
My 2023 is a recruited athlete at a strong academic school as well as a couple of other similar schools. She has a favorite, loves the school, coaches seem to really want her really bad, and passed a pre read. They want her to apply ED. Problem is, the school is 77k a year and we are full pay. Based on our research, we expect her to get maximum merit they offer (~22k a year)as she is top stats, and if she does, we have agreed to let her attend and have found a way to pay for it. We met with AO who is unable to give us any assurance to merit awards, they aren’t allowed to. He told me merit awards aren’t any less with ED vs EA but I’ve read so much that contradicts that.

Have any recruited athletes had luck with coaches being ok with EA instead of ED with the assurance they are #1 choice as long as the expected merit award comes through?

I’m not an athlete parent but if you are dependent on your perceived max merit then I say who cares.

ED would be very dangerous for you, especially because many schools seem to give no or less merit to thurs who apply ED because frankly, they wouldn’t need to. You take a HUGE risk going ED.

That’s my opinion, anyway.

Good luck.


I think the coach should understand that she can’t go there without the top merit aid, so how does it benefit him to require ED over EA? If the money doesn’t come, she can’t go even if accepted ED. She wouldn’t be applying ED to another school so she’s still saying ‘Mac is my #1 school.’

Now he might say that he can only help with admissions in ED, but it sounds like she’ll be admitted without the coach’s help based on her scores and gpa.


Unless the academic money is really athletic money (which happens at some DIII schools) the coach is not giving your student athlete anything for their risk of applying ED. Someone expecting the maximum academic scholarship should be an admissions home run.

If not getting the $22k is a deal breaker for you, you have to put your foot down. I am sure the school itself tells you not to apply ED if you are counting on merit money to attend.

Your student athlete can/should put the blame on you when they interact with the coach. “You are definitely my first choice, but my parents are worried about the finances, and won’t let me apply ED. I would like to apply EA, and if the scholarship comes through, I will be 100% committed and won’t apply anywhere else. Does this work for you?”


Have you heard specifically at this school that merit in ED is lower than in EA? I doubt the AO would directly tell you an untruth, OTOH it’s ridiculous they won’t do a FA pre-read for you.

I agree with the above that your kid has to work thru the two scenarios with the coach. 1) Apply ED, potentially not get enough merit, and be forced to pull out of the agmt for financial reasons or 2) apply EA, but have to understand if that’s even an option in the coach’s eyes…as they might instead give the supported slot to someone else in ED, which is certainly their prerogative. Then it’s not clear there’s even room on the team for your kid. Tricky conversation but one your kid has to have. Are you fairly certain of admission in the EA round?


What @LurkerJoe said souns correct to me: if your daughter is likely to get max merit, then this is a safety school for her, and coach support for admission is unnecessary. In that case, if they really want her on the team, then I don’t see any downside to applying EA. If that’s what your daughter does, she could explain to the coach that the school is her clear first choice, and she would have applied ED, except she needs merit and can’t commit to a school that’s unaffordable to your family.


Some factors that would affect my decision tree:

  1. Is this school the clear #1 school in terms of academics and sport?
  2. What is the admissions rate of this school ED vs EA vs RD?
  3. What is the situation with the fallback schools, academics, sports, coach support, finances, availability of ED2?

If the school is the clear favorite and especially if getting in without ED/coach support is risky, I’d go with the “sure thing” (ED) in terms of admissions and sort out the affordability questions later. At the same time, be upfront with the other colleges that are recruiting your daughter. If she is a top recruit, they may be willing to save a spot for her ED2 or even RD.

I would only go EA if you are very very confident that she can get in without full coach support. I don’t think you gain much in doing this as coaches from alternative schools will not support her without their own ED commitment, other than not worrying about the hassles of withdrawing from an ED admissions because of affordability.

The school has an advertised admissions rate of 38%, but I was told last year it was in the mid 20’s. My student is 4.0/4.88w, #1 of ~400 in her class, dual language immersion, 3 sport athlete with several academic and athletic awards, will likely be Valedictorian of her class. The pre-read expressed no concerns, they didn’t even ask for test scores. She has strong demonstrated interest also, two cross country flights to visit and have met with AO twice. Got a nice card from Dean of students. Now days, anything is possible I suppose.

The school is division 3, so no money for sports involved.

I went through every post everywhere about the school, and there seems to be a pattern of less merit for ED. I do realize that could be other factors coming into play…like less competitive applicants applying ED.

The other school she is strongly considering (and also has an offer to play at) will do a pre-read in July with a guarantee for minimum merit. If only they both would!

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In my opinion, depending on the sport will her spot/position be filled in the ED round. Will there still be room on the team if she comes in “late” and does she think she would want to be at the school without her sport?

Agree with above that it is a disappointment that they will not do a merit pre-read. Possibly the school (like many others) is shifting some $’s away from merit and adding funds on the FA side.


Hard to say if the position will be filled - it’s soccer. We have been told D is a very strong player for D3 level. So maybe they will hold for her? If she applies EA, she would find out only a week or two past ED, we are hoping that would be enough.

The school is 100% meet needs, but also gives merit. They seem fairly generous with merit compared to other similar schools. Many of the schools she was interested in don’t give any merit at all - we had her take those off the list.

This is exactly what she has to talk with the coach about. It might be ok with the coach, it might not be, and perhaps they would prefer to get their next choice athlete in the ED round.

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Slightly tangential, but as another data point, not every school S22 was considering would grant a FA pre-read. These were all T25 schools that don’t offer merit, though. JHU was one example.

The head coach said the roster spot is there for my D whether she applies ED or EA. They understand our concerns over ED. We are still hoping to get assurance on merit aid; if we get it, she may still apply ED. Waiting for further contact from financial aid. We are cautiously optimistic that things will work out. Everyone we have talked to has been great. Fingers crossed!