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Please help translate this assistantship offer


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Hi all. Well, I got my first response - and it's an acceptance! Well, it's not official yet. It's a letter from the POI, saying they're recommending admission, and offering Assistantship. BUT:

I don't understand this letter, and I need to reply in 6 days. I got 2 questions:

1. Assistantship "includes tuition reduction": Would I pay less tuition than normal, and it would be payed out of my assistantship money, or does it mean I won't pay any tuition at all?

2. The Feb 20 deadline is only for accepting the assistantship, right? The letter says I'll be getting a formal offer of admission from the Graduate School. Only then I will have to decide if I'm accepting the offer, right?

Here it is - and your help is much appreciated:

Because of your excellent qualifications and experience, the faculty has voted to award you an $xx,xxx assistantship for 2012 – 2013 school year. The assistantship will be allocated over a 12 month period and includes a tuition reduction. As a graduate assistant, your per semester tuition will be the amount equal to that contained on the University web site at the time of registering for classes. The assistantship will require you to work an average of 20 hours per week during the assistantship period.

Because of the limited number of assistantships available and the large number of applicants accepted with pending assistantships, it is critical that you acknowledge the acceptance of the assistantship in an e-mail to me by February 20, 2012 and sign this Assistantship Offer and either mail it to me or fax it to me at 000-0000000. I must receive the signed offer by March 1, 2012. If I do not receive the signed offer by the designated date, it will be withdrawn without any opportunity for reconsideration for fall 2012 semester.

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If I were you I would contact the school via phone and just say "i just want to clarify that this means X prior to signing" etc. It sounds to me as if your tuition is deducted prior to you receiving the assistantship - but it is rather poorly written (ever noticed how many typos there are on Uni websites - I had two in my offer letter - fills you with faith eh) The other part - why did they give you two dates? Sorry... I am not much help other than to affirm that they are a confusing bunch.

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Congratulations on your admission and assistantship offers.

I agree with Frozenroses that you might want to clarify all pertinent issues. It sounds to me like your stipend is paid after the school deducts a part of your tuition bill--but would you be assessed in-state or out-of-state tuition? (I think GA's usually pay in-state.) It sounds like the letter-writer wants your informal acceptance of the assistantship offer in an email by Feb. 20, and then your formal acceptance w/ signature on Mar. 1. If this were my situation, I would express my enthusiasm and appreciation, and then ask a few questions:

1) Does accepting the stipend commit me to accepting the offer of admission into the program? (I.e., I am still awaiting acceptance offers elsewhere, and may ultimately choose another school, but I'm really glad I got this great offer from your school.)

2) Would I be assessed tuition at the in-state or out-of-state rate?

3) When would I have to pay the tuition for which I am responsible? (I.e., before I receive my first stipend payment, or otherwise? [Possibly on their general tuition due date.])

These are just a few things I would want to know before committing, but their stipulation that you respond within a certain timeframe seems reasonable, if a little inconvenient.

Congrats again and good luck.

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