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Turning down an offer before decided


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I've received four offers to PhD programs, so I am now in the decision phase. I am torn between two of them which are top programs, and there is a third that I am finding really hard to walk away from for financial/personal reasons, so those three are still on the table. The fourth, which was my first acceptance, I am confident I will ultimately turn down. It is not the best fit for me, it isn't in a location I particularly want to be in, the stipend, while good, isn't enough to counteract these things. However, for other people I'm sure this would be a fabulous offer (esp. people who would be a better fit, since that's really the biggest reason for me) - it's a great program with a good stipend, and I want to give someone else the opportunity to attend! So I know I need to turn this program down, ASAP (like, today).

I have no problem about doing this, but the only teensy dilemma I have is that on the letter they sent me, they told me to respond by filling out this sheet. On the sheet is says somethign like "Check one: I will accept this offer//I will not accept this offer. Instead I will be attending _______________________"

Should I just leave this space blank? Should I fill in the name of the place I think I probably will end up picking (I've almost made a decision, I'm just grappling with people giving me conflicting advice at this point). Should I put down, for example, "University A or University B"? I'm worried I will sound rude if I imply "I want to go ANYWHERE but your university!", but I don't want to put down the name of my most likely pick in case they communicate with each other (my subfield is extremely incestuous and they all talk amongst each other) and then I change my mind.

Please help, and soon, so that I can turn them down while there is still time for someone else!

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Yes, I am going to turn it down right away - today - which is why I asked for advice right away. I just wanted to get some perspective as to whether it would seem rude if I listed multiple programs.

Just to clarify, I'm not sitting on these offers for no reason. I held on to this offer only long enough to get the official letter from one of the other programs; now that I have one official letter (as opposed to unofficial emails), I am turning it down. Just turned to gradcafe for advice in that moment. The mail won't get picked up from my house until noon tomorrow, so it's not like I'm delaying this for anyone by asking around on here for a few hours tonight!

Any other thoughts?

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I don't think they have any right to demand an answer to that. I would leave it blank, or perhaps communicate that you're still undecided.

I'm sure they're just curious or like to make a record of that kind of information is all. Shouldn't be a big deal to just write that you're deciding between offers or leave it blank.

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