How to Withdraw Your Application From A College

Withdrawing Your Application

While there may be a number of reasons why you would choose to withdraw your application, there are a number of reasons why you should.

Keep in mind that the application\acceptance process is a two way process involving you and a number of colleges. You want to know you’ll be selecting a great college that fits with your life and financial goals while the college is trying to better estimate how many students will be attending in the fall.

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You may choose to withdraw your application from college due to a lack of financial aid, a change in mind about attending college, or you may have simply accepted a college that has offered you an acceptance package. However, before you do so, be sure to understand whether or not you have any binding agreements in place that may force you to accept an offer.

Early Decision vs. Early Action

When you went to apply for college, did you participate in the “Early Decision” (ED) or “Early Action” (EA) process? If so, you may have entered into a binding agreement. The Early Decision process requires students to sign a binding agreement and some Early Action processes do as well.

If you are accepted to a college through one of these binding agreements, the only generally accepted way to back out is because the financial aid offer was not sufficient to meet your families’ needs.

While Early Decision and Early Action processes are nice by giving students more time to make arrangements to attend school, you’ll have to weigh the pros of applying early with the potential cons of being bound to a specific school.

According to interviews performed by U.S. News, most admissions officers wouldn’t legally go after students but they could make getting into other schools a bit more difficult.

How to Withdraw Your Application

The act of actually withdrawing your application will vary based on school. First, check to see if the portal you used to apply has the ability to decline or rescind your application. If that doesn’t work, your best bet is to directly contact the admissions counselor. Be sure to include all applicable information such as your name, address and any other IDs assigned to you through the admissions process. Explain your situation and reasoning for backing out and you should be set.

You can safely withdraw your application using the above method under the following situations:

  • You have accepted another college’s offer

  • You have decided not to attend college

  • Financial aid offers are not in alignment with your needs

If you applied to an Early Decision school and they have accepted you, you must have a good reason for backing out. Ethically speaking, you, your parents and school counselor likely signed a binding agreement.

While the school may not have legal recourse (or the desire) to come after you, you should be certain of your decision before applying via Early Decision. A few exceptions may be acceptable however:

  • If you receive the Early Decision school’s financial aid offer and it does not meet your family’s needs, making it impossible to attend.

  • A significant life event has occurred such as a death in the family or major illness.

In either of these cases, communication with the Early Decision school is key to maintaining your reputation. Explain the situation and if there are certain accommodations that would allow you attend, be sure to bring them up.

Getting Help

If you want more information on colleges and majors, check out College Factual. There is a wealth of information about more than 1,700 U.S. colleges and universities. If you want to check out application deadlines and whether schools allow Early Decision or Early Action applications, find the school you are looking for, then navigate to the “Applying” tab and then “Applications”. Filling out a profile will let you get custom fits for school based on a number of criteria that are important to you.