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October 26, 2016

We’ve all heard the despair-making numbers: Stanford rejects 95% of applicants; Duke, 88%; Carnegie Mellon, 76%, and so on. But those averages hide some surprisingly hopeful surprises. At many schools, the acceptance rate is much better for students who make the school their first choice and apply “Early Decision”—which means they commit to attend the school if admitted. The typical ED deadline is Nov. 1, but check with your college, because some schools, such as Lafayette, Syracuse, and Wake Forest have deadlines of Nov. 15.

Of course, there is no free lunch. The admissions advantage also means you’ll have less leverage to negotiate for more financial aid.

And if your student is aiming for a highly selective school, you’ll want to read this.

Best wishes,

Money-Saving Advice for College Parents and Students

What happens when you combine all the college rankings?
Some schools rank highly on all of the major college rankings. Here are some charts showing the general winners. Washington Post

Morningstar releases new ratings of 529 college savings plans
The direct-sold plans in Nevada, Utah, and Virginia won gold this fall. MONEY

Veteran scholarship winner tells you how to write a great essay
Excellent advice on how to win over scholarship judges from author Kristina Ellis. MONEY 

PLUS: her advice on how to graduate debt-free. MONEY

Where Trump and Clinton stand on college affordability
They didn’t talk about it much during the debates, so we rounded up their statements for you. MONEY

This Week's Deadlines and Scholarships

Featured scholarship:
Prudential’s “Spirit of Community” scholarship awards up to $6,000 to students who have volunteered in their communities. Deadline is Nov. 8. More info

Important deadlines:
Nov. 1 is the Early Decision and honors scholarship application deadline for many colleges.

Nov. 3 is the last regular registration date for the Dec. 3 sitting of the SATs.

Nov. 4 is the last regular registration date for the Dec. 10 sitting of the ACTs.

ABOUT KIM: Kim Clark, a senior writer for MONEY, paid for classes at four colleges—and degrees from two of them—with jobs, loans, scholarships, and lots of generous financial help from her parents and grandparents. She’s been covering the ins and outs of paying for college for almost 10 years.

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