Q: “I have to put my deposit down NOW at a college, or we’re going to lose our chance at the best (dorm room, parking spot, first year courses …)
A: CIT Consultant Suzy Fallon’s advice to parents who are feeling the pressure to put down money NOW: Resist the pressure! “If you’re even remotely hoping to negotiate your merit award at a particular college, I would not do it. You’ve lost your leverage in the appeal process if the college already knows you have chosen them,” she says. “If this is the student’s number one choice, and parents are completely happy with the financial aid package – go for it.”
It’s important to take a step back and understand why are admissions offices are pushing deposits on parents right now. Admissions offices are the business and communications branch of a college, and this is part of a well-orchestrated plan to get you to fully commit to the college at hand. “Colleges know what they’re doing in this regard,” says Suzy. “The more engaged you are as a family, the likelier it is that the student will attend. A student’s room and potential money are the most delicious carrots”.
What are the chances that a student will get an awful dorm room if a deposit isn’t made in December? There are very few exceptions to the advice, Suzy notes. (For example: depositing at some flagship Universities with not enough freshman housing.) “How willing are you to give up your leverage to make sure that your kid gets the best dorm room, whatever that means. It’s mid-December. Families have time. Whether deposits are refundable, it’s all the same game, if merit is seriously in play. Why show your hand?”