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Does anyone have any tips about negotiating for funding?  When's the best time to do it?  Right away or wait a while and to how competitive things get?   I have a few acceptances, but my first choice is expensive and only gave me a 50% assistantship.  Need some pro advice.

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Does anyone have any tips about negotiating for funding?  When's the best time to do it?  Right away or wait a while and to how competitive things get?   I have a few acceptances, but my first choice is expensive and only gave me a 50% assistantship.  Need some pro advice.

I have heard of people negotiating for funding once they have other offers.  I have also heard that this is very common among men and very uncommon among women.  My boss and a customer where I waitress (who is a tenured professor) told me that they did it at several schools, and were successful in getting more money.  The key seems to be leveraging another offer you have though, not just requesting more money.  I was told to couch it in some sort of statement about how I would rather go to the program with less money, but got better money at another school which would eliminate the need for loans. 

 

Also, it generally doesn't hurt to ask as long as you are polite and respectful about it!

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I had the exact same question as you just a week ago, and I successfully "negotiated" a higher stipend for myself. I put negotiate in quotations because I wasn't bargaining, neither was I trying to use another acceptance as leverage. I have already verbally accepted an offer to my top choice and later got an email from my second choice offering me almost 2x as much money as my first. I wrote my POI an email, stating whether there are opportunities for other scholarships/fellowship offers and also stated I did got offered X amount from another school. I kind of regretted my decision afterwards, because 1) it is VERY awkward to talk money, and 2) I didn't want to give the impression I was going to withdraw my decision (which I wasn't under any circumstances!). But we talked on the phone, I explained to my POI my point of view (i.e. that I'm just trying to look at all my options, and that I am in no way using the second school as leverage or threatening to withdraw). It all worked out, because I received an email shortly after our convo stating what my stipend would (and could) be...which turns out to be a little bit higher than before. 

 

BTW, I am a female if that makes any difference to you. The biggest thing is IF this is your top choice and you absolutely want to go there, do not use the second offer as leverage. I've been told this could come off the wrong way and annoy your POI or make you appear greedy. Just talk to him/her in a straightforward manner. For example, I mentioned I'm looking into apartments right now and I just need to know which ones I can afford. 

 

I think as long as you are honest and polite, it couldn't hurt. The worse thing that could happen is your school stays firm with their offer.

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This will vary by program/insitution. Sometimes the source of student funding is a fixed amount for all students (and not negotiable), but sometimes there is more flexibility (e.g., individual faculty funding students from grants, set-aside extra funds for especially strong applicants). Can't hurt to politely try, but also be aware that some programs/POIs have no control over this.

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