Please help with dilemma in FA for ED vs Regular decision

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>My daughter is applying to college this fall, and is considering applying early decision to a school at which applying early decision may increase her chances of admission. However, in order to do so, they require our 2009 income tax return and assets, which are significantly higher than our 2010 income tax return and assets- my wife and I have been unemployed for over a year. If she applies regular decision, then apparently we do not have to submit our 2009 information, just our 2010. </p>

<p>We would like to help our daughter receive financial aid because we simply cannot afford this school. We are afraid though that based on our 2009 information, she simply will not be viewed as a student who needs all that much aid. Based on 2010, she may indeed qualify for FA. However, applying early decision may be her best shot. </p>

<p>Any thoughts on how to best manage our situation? Thank you!</p>

<p>This is the same situation I struggled with. For me, it came down to the fact that during my Junior year my parents were both employed and then by the time I was a Senior, they had both lost their jobs and were on Medicare. When applying for need-based aid there's really nothing you can really do except possibly attach a letter from your account/lawyer to describe your financial situation. What will most likely happen is that for the first year of college you will have to pay more and then when your daughter returns as a Sophomore and re-applies for financial aid, you will use your 2010 tax returns and receive more financial aid. In the mean time I suggest you have your daughter apply for as many scholarships as possible. Just have her sign up for fastweb.com. Most are essay based, some are just lottery. Have her apply to many smaller ones as apposed to high-dollar scholarships because there is more competition for those and chances are lower.</p>

<p>Your daughter should not apply ED. By doing so you're saying you will accept the FA package no matter what it is. Unless this is HYPS with outstanding aid, this is not a good idea. Most schools think you can afford more than you think you can.</p>

<p>What school is this?</p>

<p>Some ED schools do NOT meet need. Also, keep in mind that the school determines what your need is, not the school.</p>

<p>Also, if the school gives merit scholarships, some say that applying ED hurts chances for such scholarships.</p>

<p>Since money is an issue, applying ED is NOT a good idea. You will want to compare offers to see which school will be most affordable. </p>

<p>If your D has the stats for a top school, then I suggest that she also apply to some schools that will give her good merit for her stats. Those schools can be her financial safety schools. </p>

<p>I know that it's hard to disappoint your child, but lots of aid is needed for her to go to college, and when financial problems exist, the more prudent approach is necessary. </p>

<p>Which school is this?</p>

<p>I think you should call the college's financial aid office and explain your situation. They will be able to tell you more than anyone here can.</p>

<p>As to applying ED when you have need, it really depends on the school and on your family's own financial circumstances. You can be released from ED if the school is unaffordable -- the wrinkle in your case is that your preliminary offer would expect you to make a substantial contribution, and when the final offer is adjusted to reflect your 2010 income, it might be significantly better.</p>

<p>So much depends on the policies of the particular school in question, so you really need to be talking to them.</p>

<p>One of the major downsides --as I know you must already know-- is that you won't be able to compare FA offers between schools.</p>

<p>My own kid applied ED with significant financial need, but it was to a school with excellent financial aid policies that promised to meet full need w/o loans. It worked out for us, but it can get a bit dicey depending on your particular situation.</p>

<p>The schools where ED really helps don't tend to be those with the best aid, so I'm guessing we're not talking an ivy.</p>

<p>Your assumption is incorrect. If your D applies ED and is accepted, the college will base the financial aid award on your estimate of 2010 income and assets. But it will only be a preliminary award. Once you complete your tax return for 2010, you will then complete fafsa (and profile, if required) and submit a copy of your 1040 to the college who will then calculate a final award based on 2010 financial information.</p>

<p>Redroses, your point is well taken, but it still behooves one to consider the Ancient Eight. Even a 2-3% admission boost can be huge on a % basis.</p>

<p>ED can also help at LACs, which are sensitive to showing interest; many of the top LACs have excellent FA policies.</p>

<p>*Your assumption is incorrect. If your D applies ED and is accepted, the college will base the financial aid award on your estimate of 2010 income and assets. *</p>

<p>It sounds like this college may have different req'ts for ED, which is why they are asking for 2009 tax info. Since ED acceptances and FA estimates often come in December, maybe this college doesn't trust people's estimates of 2010, so they ask for 2009 for this estimate, but then use 2010 for the real aid.</p>

<p>However, this family would be making the decision to accept an ED offer based on this wrong estimate. The correct aid package would come weeks later - and at that point the family would learn whether the offer was good or bad. Unfortunately, at that point the student would have already canceled all other applications..</p>

<p>That said, applying ED when finances and expected family contribution are "iffy" is not a good idea.</p>

<p>It sounds like this family needs to be able to compare offers, which you can't do with ED. Being able to compare offers has the added benefit that a family can use the aid offer from one school to sometimes request more money from a more favorite school.</p>

<p>If this family had a multi-year history of being very low income, and the school guarantees to meet need without big loans, it would be a different story. However, this family may have equity, assets, or something else that could mess up an FA offer from even a generous school.</p>

<p>"Your daughter should not apply ED. By doing so you're saying you will accept the FA package no matter what it is. "</p>

<p>This is simply not true. Virtually all (if not all) ED applications include a "financial opt-out". Our S applied ED. School had a pretty open financial aid policy. They "meet" 100% of need, with prescribed max in loans. Going in, we made the decision that if the package was in the ball park of our expectations based on all the calculators out there, we'd accept. If it fell short, we'd likely decline. Fortunately, they actually exceeded our expectations a little. </p>

<p>I firmly believe that no university is going to "short change" you financially because you apply ED. The last thing they want is a bunch of bitter, coerced ED admits on campus.</p>

<p>Yes, it is true that a student can decline an ED offer if the FA package isn't adequate. </p>

<p>However, in this family's case, the ED FA offer will be based on inaccurate income info. That's the problem.</p>

<p>Another problem that I noticed last winter was that students with need who applied ED were so obsessed with and focused on ONE school, that they neglected to apply to any financial safety schools that would give them big merit for their stats. I guess they thought that they would apply to other schools later if they didn't get in their ED school.</p>

<p>However, when these kids ED offers came in and were unaffordable, they had missed many/most of the deadlines to apply to the safety schools that would have given them scholarships. Many of these big scholarships have deadlines in Nov or Dec. </p>

<p>And, again, those who do have need cannot compare offers. There's something to be said about being able to contact School A to appeal their FA offer because (similarly ranked) Schools B and C gave much better offers.</p>

<p>Thank you all for your advice. The school is UPENN. Based on their admissions web sites, they indicate that if you apply ED, they would like your 2009 information. This way, they can make you a preliminary offer around December. However, if you apply RD, they will accept your 2010 information (without 2009), as they can give you your financial aid offer in April or May. </p>

<p>Does anybody know if they have a history of making generous offers? The opinions I have heard about the ivy league schools are extremely varied- some comment that they can have their choice of student, so perhaps giving FA is not as vital in getting great kids. Others say that these places have so much money that they can offer FA to kids they really want.</p>

<p>Perhaps you should post on the Penn thread about thier finaid, mongoose. Need-based aid at HYP is as good as it gets, and is extremely generous at Dartmouth. Rumor has it that Cornell is not so giving. Dunno about Penn.</p>

<p>And you are correct: ED has tended to be a nice admissions bump at Penn.</p>

<p>You should call the f.a. office at Penn and ask them. I would be willing to bet that they will tell you that the final award will be based on your 2010 tax return. They've already told you that they want the 2009 info so that they can make a <em>preliminary</em> offer. </p>

<p>It's my impression that applying ED to Penn gives you a significant boost. It's also my impression that FA for Penn-ED is not different from FA for Penn-RD. Hard to have numbers backing that up since the same family can't apply both ways to compare...</p>

<p>When compared to other ivies, UPenn is one of the worst with aid. </p>

<p>Of course, that is compared to other ivies.</p>

<p>There have been families who needed financial aid for their kids to go to colleges over a certain cost, who have worked with an ED school to make sure that the chances of getting burned in that situation are reduced as much as possible. You can do that by contacting the college financial aid office and working out the estimated numbers before sending off the ED app. If the numbers are too far off from what you can afford, then you don't have to apply ED. If you are willing to live with the estimate and you don't have any unusual situation that can jump out of the paperwork and change things when the real income info is complete for 2010, then it could be a risk you want to take for increasing your student's chances by going ED.</p>

<p>Do realize that you will not be able to compare offers. I have known a number of families a bit grim faced when they see others getting some great packages at school their student also considered but withdrew because of an ED acceptance. It has happened many times that a student would get widely variant fin aid offers from similar schools. Don't really understand why. I remember one young man who got a lot more from Colgate than like schools, for example. When you go ED, you are stuck with the agreement.</p>

<p>I never recommend ED to kids who need financial aid because they often do not quite understand the financial implication and may get estimates with incomplete parent data. If a parent is very much involved and understands the situation, the risk is reduced. There is less chance that some situation that is buried will come out to change the numbers since I am assuming that the parents will better know their own financials.</p>

<p>Do realize that you will not be able to compare offers? I have known a number of families a bit grim faced when they see others getting some great packages at school their student also considered but withdrew because of an ED acceptance.</p>

<p>That would be very upsetting to a family.</p>

<p>There is another concern, that hasn't been mentioned. This family has been unemployed for a year. What if both parents were to become employed within a few months and so they were fully employed for 2011. That info would be used for applying for aid for sophomore year. Should the family be concerned that a big drop in aid would be unaffordable. The reason that I ask is that often when a family has been unemployed for awhile, it can take awhile to "catch up" and be back on their feet. They might not be able to afford their much higher family contribution at that point.</p>