What to do if you’ve been deferred

On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Elizabeth Heaton is back in the host seat to tell you all about how to best proceed if you’ve just been deferred from your Early Action or Early Decision school(s). We’re also answering your questions in a two-segment Q&A, featuring listener submissions.

Deferred: Now What?

A lot of our students submitted applications by Early Action and Early Decision deadlines and are hearing back about those decisions. While many are celebrating admits and feeling the sting of denies, a good portion are hanging out in the middle, unsure of what to make of the defer decision. In the first segment, Kimberly Asselta joins Beth to explain what it means and how to proceed. They both share their perspectives on when to call the admission office, and why it should be the student (not parents!) who makes the call. They also answer what additional information you should send and how often to follow up (there is some disagreement on this point). For more on how this decision might impact the rest of your list of schools and whether or not you should start submitting more applications, listen to last week’s episode when host Ian Fisher and I unpacked those points.

Listener Questions

On this episode, our finance questions were answered by expert Tara Piantanida-Kelly.

Finance Questions:

  • A two-part question for older parents who will both be over 59 when their students begin college:
    • Are Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) omitted from the FAFSA? What about retirement account withdrawals and Social Security benefits—must those be reported as income?
    • How much of our savings will we be expected to contribute? Will it be the same percentage as younger parents who still have many years to earn more income?
  • When and how do we communicate special circumstances regarding our fluctuating income and medical expenses?
  • My child is applying to 15 schools but the FAFSA only has room for 10 schools, how do we get the information to the remaining schools?
  • Are there loans that parents can take out so that students don’t have to borrow?
  • Can I remove or lower an asset value I reported on the FAFSA. I have money earmarked for a home purchase and don’t want it included in the EFC.

Admissions Questions:

  • My daughter created and regularly posts to a blog about her hiking and outdoor adventures. Her posts are thoughtful and well written. What’s the best way to represent this on college applications? Do number of views and followers, or whether her blog has been reposted or featured on other blogs and social media pages matter? And if so, how does she communicate those statistics?
  • If I’m accepted through an Early Decision program, how do I go about withdrawing my applications at other colleges?
  • If after being admitted, I change my mind on the major I’ve indicated on my application, can I switch into a different program?
  • Do I have to tell* a college if I drop a class for the second semester after I’ve already been admitted? (*We would love to rewrite this question as “do I have to ask for permission from the college before I drop a class?”)

Come back next time to learn about co-op programs, including their financial implications, and the essay supplements for Washington University in St. Louis and Barnard College.


Written by Tova Tolman
Tova Tolman is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Tova worked in admissions at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Tova Tolman.