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Letter: Early decision does not penalize applicants financially

In his Sept. 18 commentary "Rethinking Early Decision," Russell Williams writes, "early decision requires the student to commit to Duke before financial aid packages are awarded." This is incorrect. Dollar-specific aid packages are sent to students in the same envelope as the offer of early decision admission. This procedure is exactly the same as that in place for the April admissions cycle. Although each admitted early decision applicant is expected to make a good faith effort, any student who is unable to work out an acceptable aid package is free to reject the offer of admission and apply elsewhere.

As one of a diminishing number of institutions that guarantee need-blind admissions and meet 100 percent of each student's demonstrated need, we are anxious for admitted students to consider their offer of admission fully knowledgeable of the availability of need-based aid. Students who apply for financial aid on a timely basis have this opportunity.

It is true that merit scholarships are not awarded prior to the deadline for students to respond to their early decision offer of admission. The issue is timing; the merit scholarship decision process does not take place until early spring following the admission application deadline. Students admitted in the early decision process are, however, considered at that time for any and all merit scholarships the University awards.

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