To ED or not to ED, that is the question!


One of the most common questions we get this time of year is “Should I apply Early Decision?” As our November 1st Early Decision (ED) deadline approaches, many high school seniors are considering whether to make the binding commitment that goes along with applying ED. In this blog entry, we hope to provide some direction on how to tackle this important question and some advice on whether to ED or not to ED.

The first place to start is our Early Decision webpage to learn more about the process and for answers to logistical questions. Become familiar with how the ED agreement works, that we have two different ED plans, and that you have the option to apply ED to Emory College, Oxford College, or both campuses. Now let’s focus on some of the key questions you should consider.

Who should apply Early Decision?

Simply put, if Emory University is your definitive first choice, and you are ready to make the commitment, then Early Decision is probably for you. A binding application plan is for students who just know that they know that Emory is their first pick. This is for the students who have “fallen in love” with this place! They have done their research, and for all the right reasons, they are confident in their decision. If Emory is the school that you measure all other schools by, and those schools always fail in comparison, then we would encourage you to strongly consider ED.

Who should NOT apply Early Decision?

Perhaps this is obvious, but students who do not have a clear first choice school and want to weigh options should not apply Early Decision to any school. Not everyone has a clear first choice so early in their senior year, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Don’t ever feel forced to apply early somewhere, especially if you are someone who likes to weigh options.

It’s important to consider financial aid as well. If you are admitted ED, you do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from more than one university. If financial aid is a major factor in whether you can attend a university or not, then weigh carefully whether you should apply ED or not. (See the next question for more info about how this works.)

We also recommend against applying ED for students who are only considering the binding commitment for tactical reasons. Students focused on just “getting in” and students who view applying ED solely as a strategic move, put simply, shouldn’t. Applying to colleges should not be seen as winning a game, and students who over-analyze statistical data about ED are approaching the process from the wrong direction. Selecting an ED admission plan should be about fit, 100% of the time.

Are there any disadvantages to apply ED?

If there is a disadvantage to applying ED, it has to do with financial aid. No, you don’t receive a worse financial aid package if you apply ED, as we use precisely the same methods for calculating eligibility for aid no matter what application plan you choose. The financial disadvantage is that if you are admitted ED, you do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from more than one university. Each institution has its own way of determining how much a family can reasonably pay for college, and the outcome of that process is only revealed after you are offered admission. When admitted ED, you just get that one offer of financial aid. Something to consider.

Are there advantages to applying Early Decision?

Yes, there are benefits to applying to ED. The earlier timeline is a clear advantage. ED applicants learn of their decision earlier. If admitted, their college search is complete, and they can focus on successfully finishing high school. If not admitted, though disappointing, students can move on and focus on other schools that would also be a good fit.

Another advantage is that the pressure is not on the Admission staff during the ED evaluation process. When the Admission Committee is evaluating applications during the early process, they have fewer applications overall to consider.

While there are benefits, that does not mean there is a competitive advantage. The phrase “competitive advantage” leads to a conclusion that it is easier to get in when applying ED. There are benefits to applying ED, but it is not easier to be admitted. The Admission Committee review process is the same during the early evaluation process as it is during the review of RD applicants—both in terms of academic metrics and holistic measures.

If I do not apply ED, do I still have a chance to be admitted?

We strive to hold at least half (if not more) of our admitted student spots for Regular Decision (RD) applicants. Students who apply RD are held to the same academic standards, and our admission evaluators are just as excited to read RD applications. Don’t feel forced to apply ED fearing that you will not be able to get in RD or because you think your application will be passed over. Great students are admitted during RD every year, and we would not have a complete class without our RD applicants!

Regardless of the application plan you choose, know that the Admission Committee desires to get to know you for who you really are through the application process. Share about what excites you, challenges you, drives you to go for broke and reach for more. We hope your college aspirations lead you to Emory University, and please know we are here to assist you in the process.

Don’t hesitate to connect with us by posting a comment to this blog, tweeting us @emoryadmission, or emailing us at













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  1. Aminata

    Hi, If I apply to Emory through ED and get denied , can I continue and apply RD?

    1. AdmissionDaniel
      The possible decisions resulting from an Early Decision application are acceptance, deferral to Regular Decision (ED I), wait list (ED II), or deny. For students deferred to our Regular Decision plan, notification of admission will be received by April 1. Under Regular Decision, you may apply to other colleges and universities. Students who are deferred to Regular Decision should send first semester senior grades from their high school and any new application information. If the Admission Committee concludes that Emory/Oxford is not a good match for you, we will inform you of a deny decision with other Early Decision candidates. This decision is a final decision and you are not permitted to apply again under Regular Decision. (You may initiate a transfer application after competing one year of college work elsewhere.)

  2. Amanda McAllister

    If I apply and get accepted to Emory College on an Early Decision plan, but the financial package offered is not enough, should I not apply ED or can I appeal the financial package?

    1. AdmissionDaniel

      Early Decision (ED1 and ED2) candidates are eligible to apply for all forms of need-based financial aid offered at Emory. Choosing ED will not limit one’s need-based financial aid options. If accepted ED and qualified for assistance, a student will receive an estimated aid offer along with the official acceptance packet. This offer is based on information submitted on the College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE form. A final aid offer will follow in the spring, pending receipt of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the student’s parents’ prior calendar year federal income tax returns. In the unlikely event that information on the FAFSA and tax returns varies significantly from original estimates, the financial aid package could change. In the rare case where we are unable to offer a student full need-based financial aid, they may be released from the Early Decision contract. If one chooses to break the ED contract for financial reasons they must withdraw their application completely and cannot consider the offer of admission to Emory at a later date.

      Please note that students relying specifically on merit-based aid to attend Emory University are strongly discouraged to apply for an Early Decision plan as decisions about merit-based scholarships are not made until late March. Students relying on the receipt of a merit-based award are encouraged to apply under the Regular Decision, non-binding, admission plan and meet all the requirements of an application to the Emory University Scholars Program. Further details can be found here:

  3. Aminatu

    Applying for a regular decision does it guarantee a full scholarship for need based conditions.

    1. AdmissionDaniel

      Need-based aid and merit-based scholarships are two different types of financial assistance.

      Students interested in being considered for a merit-based scholarship must apply for the November 15 Emory University Scholar Programs deadline. Details can be found here: Merit-based scholarships are not based on a student’s financial need. Scholarships range in value from a few thousand dollars to full tuition based on merit.

      Need-based financial aid is based on a student’s financial need. Emory University meets 100% of financial need for all admitted domestic students. Details can be found here:

      Emory University does not guarantee need-based aid for international students. Detailed information about applying to Emory University as an international student including financial assistance programs can be found here:

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