It is extremely rare for a family to ask to be released from the Early Decision commitment for financial reasons. However, on occasion possibly due to a lack of understanding of need-based aid (i.e., they were expecting merit-based aid, they did not submit complete information when using a financial aid estimator, etc) families have requested to be released from their Early Decision contract.
It is the family’s determination that they cannot afford to pay for a Columbia education that allows them to be released from the binding early decision admission offer. The family must first speak with a financial aid officer, before the release is granted. Ultimately, it is the family’s decision whether or not they feel capable of accepting the need-based Columbia financial aid award.
Those who do opt out of their Early Decision contract are released to pursue lower-cost school options, such as state schools and/or schools that award merit aid. The admission offer at Columbia is then cancelled. A candidate who declines Columbia’s Early Decision offer will not be allowed to reconsider Columbia’s financial aid estimate during the spring Regular Decision cycle and will not be able to reinstate the original offer of admission.