Early decision (ED) admission by colleges are usually binding. ‘Binding’ means that the applicant promises from the start that he/she will attend the school if his/her application is accepted. It is not an obligation to be taken lightly since schools honor one another’s binding decisions. If you renege on an early decision obligation to one school, it is unlikely that another competitive school will accept you. Students can seek release from an early decision obligation on the grounds of financial hardship if the financial aid package they are offered is genuinely inadequate; however, the burden of proof in these cases is on the student. (Keep in mind, an important drawback to early decision admissions is that they leave applicants with no leverage to negotiate a better financial aid package – the school knows you can’t go anywhere else.)
Early decision applicants are expected to submit only one early decision application to the school of their choice. They can submit applications to other schools under normal application procedures, but agree that they will withdraw all those applications if they are accepted to the early decision school.