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How to negotiate financial aid packages?!


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Help! My adviser strongly recommends that I use offers from other schools to influence the offer I have received from my top choice. Has anyone ever done this successfully? Any advice? Wording of the dreaded email to a prospective PI or grad school recruiter? All of the schools have at least 2 and sometimes as many as 6 research groups I would consider joining. He said to very subtly mention somehow that I have other offers and am trying to make a decision soon. My family is all very poor, so these kind of offers are hard to turn down especially when I have "enhanced" offers from 2/4 of the schools with a 3rd pending a decision. Btw these are for chemistry PhD programs with waived tuition and either partial or full health insurance subsidies. Background:

A University: Cost of living 91, Stipend $20,000

visited, favorite, love love love

B University: Cost of living 87, Stipend $21,900 (candidate for more $)

have not visited yet but this will very likely be my second choice

C University: Cost of living 81, Stipend $24,000

visited, good school but I would not enjoy living in this environment much

D University: Cost of living 96, Stipend $30,000

visited, not so great school, doable but I'd rather not

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Psersonally, I would wait until all offers that you would consider taking are in. Then just send a nice email to your POI (or the DGS is applicable) letting them know that this is your 1st chopice program but that another school has offered you more $ and you wondered if there was any way they could increece their offer. You could include mention of particular reasons, if you've got them.

One piece of avvice I've heard is that you need to be VERY ready to accept the school if theyu do give you an increece. No back and forth.

I'm in the middle of trying to do this myself. Will let you know how it works out!

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As you said in this thread, "...my favorite school is only offering $20,000. I do not think $20,000 would be miserable to live on..." and this is why the school made the offer it did. The school is covering tuition and providing enough to cover basic living expenses in their locale, and asking for more will likely garner you a negative reputation within the department before you even begin your program. As long as your tuition and basic living expenses are covered, fit is far more important than extra cash.

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