Students reneging on ED acceptances more than in past?

I’ve already seen a few posts from students wanting to back out of ED acceptances. I believe we are going to see more and more of this as admissions to highly selective schools get ever more competitive. Everyone is looking for an edge. Students are panicking and applying ED to very selective schools to improve their chances, then realizing they might have made a mistake.

What are you hearing? Are students managing to get out of their ED agreements? Is this a trend? Will this become a big enough problem that colleges and high schools will be forced to take action? Interested in others’ thoughts.


I think this post is timely. Yes, I do think kids are using ED to selective schools because it’s seen as necessary for a shot, but are now more aware that they can get out of it. A friend of D22’s got into NYU ED and in the same sentence said, “but my dad read the fine print and we can get out of it I’d I get a better offer from a different school,” as if that was their strategy from the get go. To that I said, you can get out now if their offer isn’t good enough to your parents, and she said she knew that. But her response to me was interesting. He read the fine print and knew they could get out if something looked better. It’s ED for crying out loud! Getting out should be the exception! I think parents and students are now more willing to game ED.

Also, a different friend of D22 applied restricted early action to Princeton, and felt free to continue applying to other early action schools because those ea schools were “non binding”. She knew full well she wasn’t allowed to ea to private schools and did so anyway. And guess what? It worked! Princeton turned her down, and Case Western Reserve accepted her ea! Of course my kid was deferred ea from CWRU.

I do think schools will respond and will tweak ED some how.


In what way are they aware they can get out of it? I’ve always been under the impression that finances are the only way out. So are people lying about their financial info after they are accepted?

I have seen a few posts here and there about this topic. However looking at previous years’ numbers for ED acceptance and enrollment at a few colleges, it looks like the numbers not enrolling are minuscule.

My daughter wanted to ED and I bugged her every day if she was sure. We visited both the schools she was considering and took some time to decide. We were all 100% sure about the school she wanted to ED, including net price. That’s the only way you should handle early decision.

If more accepted students start to get out of their ED commitments, colleges will definitely do something about it.

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S22 only has one close friend who was accepted ED (Tufts) - the others were deferred or rejected from their REA or ED schools (Ivies). In terms of using ED as a tool to get into a “better” school, I think there is a lot of that going on in our community (upper middle class community in MA). Many kids are taking their shot at higher ranked schools by using ED - often without being 100% certain that it is the place they want to be. It definitely worked for an acquaintance of my son - a very good but not stellar student who can pay - who got into Northeastern ED. That is a tough admit for many kids here as it is very, very popular (especially as a fallback for the tippy top kids) but ED really, really increases your chances. I’m sure there is some buyers remorse among kids who would really prefer to weigh their options but feel compelled to go ED to maximize their chances at “top” schools. As far as “getting out of it”, I have heard that kids are aware of that, but haven’t heard of anyone actually trying to do it.

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Each year there are a few posts about this, but I’m seeing them earlier than usual and they have a different tone than ones I’ve seen in past years.


I’ve always been puzzled by people who say ED is a firm commitment. It is a commitment with no consequences if you back out of it. What is the ED school going to do if the students says “never mind”? They can’t do anything. People say that the only way out is if finances don’t work. That isn’t really true, as many have figured out. All you have to do is say that you aren’t coming, and that’s it.


No, not lying about finances, but just willing to back out because the offer isn’t palatable enough even if it meets EFC. This is my example: we allowed our D18 to ED to Wash U. We had a bit of need then. Our EFC was about 1/3 the COA of Wash U at the time. I called the admissions office to go over the ED agreement before we signed it. I was told by the representative that the decision as to whether or not the financial offer is acceptable falls totally on the parents. Even if the school thinks it’s a fair offer, they go by what the parents think and accept. In my D18’s situation, she was deferred and then denied, but this was a very big deal to us at the time.

Now, I believe, parents/students are more willing to do exactly what the Wash U rep told me – they want out when they realize a safety private school just gave my kid $100,000 over 4 years, and this ED school is full pay. But it’s not a new realization. It’s brazen because they know this at the beginning of the process. Read the fine print, talk to admissions, and right now, you can get out just because you think the offer isn’t good enough. 3-5 years ago, I don’t think it was this common to pull out of ED. But since admissions has gotten all that much more difficult, people are more brazen.


I guess I just don’t get it. D20 was accepted into her ED school in mid-December and her deposit was due 1/6. We hadn’t even heard from her EA school by that point and withdrew all other apps. Yes, we are rule followers but are you saying these families pay the non-refundable deposit and STILL keep their other apps in?


Maybe schools should make ED applicants provide a list of other applications. Just in case. Might be harsh but it’s risk/reward. The reward is higher chance of admission. The risk is screwing the school and other ED applicants.


Our D’s HS guidance office would have gone ballistic. Students and parents signed off on ED being binding and no further official transcripts would be sent to other schools.

Colleges do track that stuff and could impact future students acceptances from that HS.

Maybe it’s a private school thing?


Except for the potential backlash against the high school and the moral commitment that people affirm when they sign. So are there more unscrupulous people who don’t mind lying? Because I’m guessing that more people are applying ED thinking they can get out of it if they want to.

High schools whose students routinely back out of ED commitments will certainly get a bad rep and their students won’t get accepted even RD if it gets bad enough.


Unfortunately I think there are more unscrupulous people than we think or would like to admit.


Yes, but has this now become more common?

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I’m not hearing this in my circle, but it does seem like we are having more posts here on CC.


Is it really true that colleges will hold the high school accountable if a student backs out? Do people have firm knowledge of this or is this just supposition of how people think it should work? I’ve read that here before and always wondered if that was true or just a cc version of an urban myth.

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I can speak for my alma mater that yes, they do track. They also track yield numbers so if a HS never has anyone matriculate, it becomes harder for future students to be accepted.


Interesting, how do colleges track this? What is their mechanism? I am unfamiliar with that end of it.

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Last year a student at my child’s HS applied restrictive EA to Harvard and was delivered to RD. She then applied ED2 to Vanderbilt and got in with full ride. She accepted the offer. Seems she also had Harvard keep her in the RD pool. She got in RD and accepted there telling Vanderbilt not coming. She is at Harvard. My daughter was planning on applying to Vanderbilt - turns out she was the second student to do this from our school to Vanderbilt. There was one the year prior too. The high schools and guidance counselor both told my daughter that Vandy was going to be a hard sell not because of her but because of the prior years. In fact even RD no students in the past few years accepted to Vanderbilt in any decision pool had gone. Mine wasn’t planning to ED there but actually decided not to apply as did all of her friends. The high school does not have a favorable reputation with the school. So no impact to the others but yes an impact to the current graduating class.


Great question.

But it’s a fair assumption. If colleges hear that students from a particular high school reneg, why would colleges want students from that high school? ED is so important to many highly selective schools and it screws up their numbers if kids back out.

The other question is if GC’s sign off on this, they will know the kid has reneged. So I wonder if they will become stricter. They have to send transcripts to colleges. Could they make it harder for kids to reneg by threatening to withhold transcripts? Just speculating.

@helpingmom40 , yes, I think they are not concerned about losing the deposit and keep their other apps in. Why are GC’s allowing that, if indeed that is true?

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