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confused by acceptance - help translate


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I also posted this on the Bank forum, so sorry for double-posting, but I'm looking for all the advice I can get and it's kind of urgent.

I got accepted to Clemson. :D Anyway, I got a letter from POI, not official yet. They're asking me to acknowledge acceptance of assistantship within 5 days, and sign it within 14 days. :huh:

1. Does assistantship that "includes tuition reduction" mean no tuition at all? Cause they're not offering much... :mellow:

2. If I sign this, does it mean I accepted the offer? Or do I have to wait for the official letter from the Graduate School - and only then accept or decline? Is it possible they want me to sign this and only then they'll send me an official acceptance?

I haven't heard from any of the other programs yet, and I obviously want to wait...

Here's the quote:

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. At this time your advisor will be Dr. Mickey Lauria but this could change.

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 If I do not receive the signed offer by the designated date, it will be withdrawn without any opportunity for reconsideration for fall 2012 semester.

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thank you all for your insights!

I wrote back to the POI and got more info: You guys were right, it's not a tuition waiver. It's a substantive reduction that leaves me $1,000 to pay per semester and it's renewable for the following year. On top of that there are yearly fees of about $2500. It's not a lot to pay for PhD, especially as an international student, but what they're offering is not enough to live on. :mellow:

I didn't get a clear answer about the meaning of signing the assistantship offer, though. It sounds accepting it is also accepting the admission offer - and I have a problem with that since they only gave me 14 days and I still haven't heard from anywhere else :angry:

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2) Did you actually look up the cost of living in Clemson? It's a pretty affordably place to live.

Even if it is pretty affordable, I get the feeling the package may still not be enough. They're asking him to pay $3500 a year, so essentially reduce his stipend by that much. If they're asking him to pay, my suspicion is the initial offer isn't that high to begin with.

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