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Negotiating Financial Package?


kaseyr10
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I contacted my potential PI for the university I am most interested in working with about potentially seeing if there were other funding opportunities to increase my package so it is more comparable to the other offers I have received. They responded asking how much additional funding I am looking for and I am looking for advice how to best approach this. Do I send along my other offers and say that I understand if they cannot be matched but if they can be more comparable or should I give a flat amount (Ideally I would want at least 3-4k)? Any input on how to tactfully approach this would be great!

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My advice would be to tell them about one offer that you would like them to match (no need to send them all) and ask if that was possible. You don't need to send the offer letter right away but you can offer to send it if they would like to see it. I would pick an offer from a program that is considered a "peer institution" to this program and in a similar cost of living area. 

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7 minutes ago, mccp77 said:

I have found it best to send them my best financial offer -- in my case, a top-20 program (it helps if the program isn't too much worse than the one you're negotiating with) -- and then ask them if there's "anything that they can do".

Then I take their counter offer and take it to the first school and continue this process until April 15.  So far I'm up $2000 - 8000 on each school that I've applied to.  It never hurts to play them off against each other.  They know how this game is played; nobody will hold it against you.

I would advise against doing so. Schools do communicate with each other and if they find out, you will find yourself to be disliked by a lot of schools.

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11 minutes ago, mccp77 said:

I have found it best to send them my best financial offer -- in my case, a top-20 program (it helps if the program isn't too much worse than the one you're negotiating with) -- and then ask them if there's "anything that they can do".

Then I take their counter offer and take it to the first school and continue this process until April 15.  So far I'm up $2000 - 8000 on each school that I've applied to.  It never hurts to play them off against each other.  They know how this game is played; nobody will hold it against you.

Maybe our fields are different with different norms. But I would actually advise against playing schools off each other and getting counter-offers. It can hurt someone in my field to do this. The general culture in my field is not for schools to "hold back" when making these offers in the first place. They generally start with the best offer they can give to the student which they genuinely believe to be enough to live on. If the student asks for more, they can't just magically make the money be available, it means they will have to redistribute some funds, perhaps make an appeal to a higher authority to get the spending approval etc. That is, it takes work and my opinion is that if you are asking for a higher offer, you are implying that you will take it if your request is granted (and you might take it if the request is partially granted). In my field, if you ask for more money, get what you asked for, then come back and say that you now have even more money from another school, it's not going to reflect well on you. You should have just asked for what you needed in the first place. In addition, if you ask for more money, get everything you asked for and then go somewhere else, it's not as bad but the people who had to do the extra work to find that money for you won't be very happy with it!

 

Note: The above only applies to fully funded PhD programs (i.e. full tuition coverage and a living stipend paid). If you are talking about partially funded programs, then this doesn't apply and I'd agree that you need to do what it takes to get the offer you need to pay the bills!

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