Early bird doesn’t get the worm

by Melissa Brisco
Staff Writer

Early decision process causes financial concerns for students

Finding the school of your dreams and place you are meant to be is a very serious undertaking. There are many factors contributing to this momentous decision, but there is one factor that can make or break a student’s decision: money.

graphic by Yogesh Patel

One student learned this lesson the hard way. This student wished to remain anonymous, so we shall call her senior.

Senior is lucky enough to have a prestigious dream school in the Northeast. A school that made her work harder, study longer and stretch herself thinner with the knowledge that come fall 2010, it would all be worth it.

“I applied early decision on a whim, because I was not sure if I would get in,” senior said.

Senior, along with her parents and guidance counselor, signed a contract that she would apply to no other schools. As this was the school she wanted to attend, senior had no qualms with this stipulation.

“Early decision applications are for students who have one school above all others that they want to attend,” CHS counselor John Crook said. “If going to a certain school rides on getting a hard to get scholarship, then that student should apply regular decision.”

In early December, senior was accepted to her dream school. Later that month, she received an informal notice that she would not receive any financial aid. Senior’s dream school has tuition of over $50,000 a year, a hefty fee her family cannot afford to pay. However, because of senior’s family financial situation, she was confident that she would receive a sizeable amount of financial aid and was devastated to read that she would likely receive none, only student loans.

“If a student receives a warning that they will likely receive no financial aid, they should immediately contact the financial aid office and see if there is anything they can do, and do it; if not, the student should try to pull out of the contract at this point,” Crook said.

Senior then called the financial aid office of her dream school, where she was told that she would have to write a letter to the financial aid office appealing her case. Senior and her mother collaborated on two and a half page report. The report included her mother’s business reports and its net loss.

A few weeks later, senior received an e-mail notifying her that she was still ineligible for financial aid. After receiving the e-mail notifying senior and her family that they still would not receive any money, senior’s mother again called the office of financial aid. At this point, senior realized the severity of the problem and asked for permission to apply to other schools.

“[Dream school] gave me permission to apply to other schools, they were very flexible about it,” senior said. “So I had to start applying to other schools in early April, when most people have already decided where they are going.”

After speaking to the head of financial aid, senior’s family sent another letter stressing how they could not afford dream school without financial aid.

“I was extremely disheartened and felt very sad for [senior],” senior’s mom said.

Senior received acceptance to a good school, much closer to home only a week after applying elsewhere. Soon after receiving her acceptance letter, senior found out that her new school would give her a substantial amount of scholarship. Things ended up working out, however Senior is still coming to terms with her drastic change in plans.