Hi, quick question: is early decision always binding? Answered
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It is Binding.
Early Action is Restrictive and Non-Restrictive, but not binding.
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Early Decision is always binding.
When applying Early decision you must pick the singular college you want to attend and apply to early because if you are accepted you are obligated to attend. The only way to get out of an Early Decision contract is if your financial aid package is not sufficient for you and your family to realistically pay for your education. Of course, you can appeal your financial aid package and work out a deal. However, if a deal can not be achieved, most ED schools will allow you to withdraw without any penalty. On the other hand, if you make no attempts to work with them and simply apply to other colleges leaving them hanging in the wind, you will be "blacklisted" to some extent. While there is no legal precedent to sue you for not holding up your end of the bargain, since many people in higher education know another, there are chances that they will find out where you are attending and kibosh that future matriculation. It also doesn't matter if you apply ED 1 or ED 2 either, they are both binding admissions if you are accepted. They just have different deadline dates which give your application strategy some flexibility. Some colleges like UVA have both ED and Early Action so keep track of which deadline you are applying toward since they are not the same.
Early Action is not binding.
EA means you can apply to multiple other EA schools at the same time but not an SCREA school which is Single Choice Restrictive Early Action. An SCREA school is like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, or Yale. With an SCREA you can only apply to a rolling admissions school or a state school concurrently but none of the other Ivys or Elite colleges.
Hope that is helpful in your decision to apply early or not.
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