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Shifting from a US University after accepting


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After having accepted a fully funded offer from a top tier US university well in time for the 15th april deadline, I heard that i have been short-listed for a full scholarship at a UK university ( which is one of the best in the country). In the event of me getting the award, can I withdraw, after having sent in my formal acceptance, from the U.S. school?-- also, what would the process be, and the repercussions.. as in .. I understand they might be highly irritated, but can I be held legally accountable? or made to pay a years fees or something? I am an international applicant and have no clue about how this works. I know this is a little premature, because I still need to get the award, but I wont have much time post the interview and hence need as much information as i can get at this point..

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Yes, you can withdraw and there are no legal repercussions at all. You will only lose whatever money you've paid in deposits (unlikely to be any at this point). The minimum thing you can do to withdraw is just don't pay any fees and don't show up, they will kick you out eventually. But obviously that's not a good thing to do. I would tell the department grad coordinator in an email explaining why I am declining the offer. If they gave you a form to fill out and sign to accept the offer, I would probably fill out another copy with "decline" checked/circled and sign it and send that too.

To accept an offer from another US school after April 15 though, the other school will want you to have a "release form" from any schools you have already accepted. Although you would be going to the UK, where they might not know (or care about) the April 15 resolution, maybe you should ask the first school for a release form as well, just in case.

As for the faculty being irritated at you, well that's the consequence of changing your mind! Personally, I would be stressed about offending others but I would live with it if the UK school is truly the better place for me to be. In the end, the faculty wants and understand that the student has to do what's best for themself! Of course, explaining yourselves to the department/POIs you've talked to would go a long way in mending relations, I think.

Remember that the April 15 thing is not legally binding at all, just a set of "guidelines" that schools that signed agreed to follow. All the extra paperwork (release forms) are only necessary if the new school asks for it, and they would do it because they want to make sure you have officially declined all previously accepted offers (and probably to ensure that you have the old school's "blessing" to leave so that they aren't poaching students).

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