The College Deposit Dilemma

By Sheila Beckie, Lead Academic and College Counselor

As the college acceptances, waitlists and denials begin to roll in, decision making time is just around the corner. May 1 is the date by which colleges expect admitted students to make their final decision, committing to attend by submitting the required deposit to hold the student’s spot.

The language on the Common Application (CA) signature page states: I affirm that I will send an enrollment deposit (or equivalent) to only one institution; sending multiple deposits (or equivalent) may result in the withdrawal of my admission offers from all institutions. [Note: students may send an enrollment deposit (or equivalent) to a second institution where they have been admitted from the waitlist, provided that they inform the first institution that they will no longer be enrolling.]

It should come as no surprise to the applicant that a decision is expected by May 1. This date is widely advertised and communicated to students and families. When applying to schools, the responsibility is on the student to have done their research to prioritize their applications based on assuming acceptance. The May 1 deadline is in place to allow both students and colleges the ability to move forward with planning for the fall semester.

But what if your student is having a difficult time deciding between a couple or multiple admission offers? Is it okay to deposit at more than one school?

The simple answer is no.

It is a widely held agreement that students will deposit at only one school no later than May 1. Since a student is not able to attend more than one college, the process of “double-depositing” is considered unethical. Why?

  • It is deceitful. A student is lying to at least one college as they are ultimately able to attend only one college.
  • It is unfair to other applicants. Double depositing impacts the ability of another student to earn a spot on the admissions list. This is particularly true if the school has a waitlist because then other applicants are not notified that a spot is available to them from the waitlist.
  • It is unfair to the college. The practice of double-depositing impacts the college’s ability to accurately predict the size of their incoming class. This could impact future policies regarding waitlists and deposit amounts.
  • It can have consequences. Colleges talk to one another. Admissions professionals are well connected around the country. They can and will check up on a student and potentially rescind an admission offer if they find out that the student has double deposited. This can be found within published acceptance information on many college sites.
  • Valor’s reputation is impacted. If a college has students from Valor de-commit, they will be likely to have that influence their decisions in future years. Yielding a student from a school is critical for the colleges and if a particular school shows a pattern, that will influence future classes of applicants.

Is it ever okay to double deposit?

If a student is waitlisted at their top choice school and accepted to another, the student may consider depositing at both schools on the chance that they are moved off the waitlist at their priority institution. Schools at which your student is waitlisted expect that the student will deposit at another school.

While getting off the waitlist is difficult, and the odds are not in your favor, do what you can to influence movement to an accepted status. Update the school on any new information relative to your application (any award or accomplishment since you applied); write a letter indicating that the school remains your number one choice and share why it is so important for you to attend that institution.

What should you do instead?

If the student is having a difficult time making a final decision about which college to attend due to multiple acceptance offers that may lack financial details, or the family is experiencing extenuating circumstances such as the health of a parent changing drastically, students may reach out to the admissions office and request a decision extension.

In the midst of COVID-19, some colleges are extending the May 1 Candidates Reply Date to June 1 as they realize that families have been hard-pressed to get on college campuses for visits, and family financial situations are rapidly changing in short periods of time.

Despite how tempting it may be to consider the “double-deposit” due to the difficulty of making a college decision, demonstrate your integrity and your respect for other candidates by depositing at only one college. Focus on the next stage – celebrate your successful admissions to college, plan out your dorm room, and buy your college sweatshirt. You no longer have a dilemma.

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