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Negotiating for funding after already accepting an offer (kinda)??


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Hey all,

I'm in urgent need of some sage advice here. I've recently accepted an offer, w/ about 20% funding, from my top-choice Masters program (woohoo!), and, after the requisite ridiculous & inexplicable feelings of mild guilt, wrote my close second, who had offered no funding, and politely declined their offer. I informed them I had chosen a program that had been able to offer me partial funding (I figured they'd want to know for their stats or whatever).

Well, I realize now that I handled the situation quite naively. I didn't think Masters funding offers were ever open to negotiation. Today, my second-choice program emails me back wanting to know if I've "signed on the dotted line" at the other school yet. Turns out they have a "last-minute funding opportunity", and have nominated me for a scholarship that would cover 70% of my studies.

Well, crap (and I mean that in the most exuberant way, as this is not, strictly speaking, a "problem" in the general scheme of things). I have KIND OF signed on the dotted line with the other program. That's to say, I submitted an online form officially accepting their offer. The web interface was like, "yay, congratulations!" and then told me I had to send in a paper form w/ a tuition deposit, where I also need to check "accept" or "decline". So, I'm not sure what kind of limbo I am in in terms of having accepted or declined this offer. My instincts say my acceptance is now binding, even though I haven't sent the paper form.

But now we reach my question. I very much WANT to go to the program whose offer I've already accepted. But, I also think I'm in a pretty strong position to try to negotiate more money out of them -- or, rather, I WOULD be if I hadn't already accepted. Right?? Is there any way to play this and be like, "Hey, program-I've-already-accepted [OR HAVE I?? I DON'T EVEN KNOW], ummm, could you guys open the coffers just a scosh wider for me please, or else I'll have to [uNETHICALLY??] back out on you?"? Like, I don't want to create some huge ethical quandary here, but there's, let's say, SEVERAL dollars on the line.

Is negotiating even an option for me at this point, tactfully? And if so, how on earth do I do it?

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I dunno if you should bring up the other offer. It might paint a bad picture of you if you go (expecially if you have THAT prof for a class).

Maybe just call and ask what they can do? Say you (obviously) really want to attend, add in WHY you want to attend (specific classes, profs, or whatever) but explain to them that you're struggling with the financial side. Make no mention of the other school. They want you, you want to be there, so just try to work together to figure it out and see what you can get.

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