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Asking for more merit awards?


dngo
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I've managed to whittle down my choices to two schools- Carnegie Mellon's Heinz and UPenn's Fels. I've visited both and was thoroughly impressed with both programs, but am leaning toward UPenn for the location and the brand recognition. My dilemma is that Carnegie is offering me $12K and UPenn only $8K. Coupled with the lower cost of living in Pittsburgh, I am wondering if it makes financial sense to go to UPenn over Carnegie. I am wondering if anyone here has asked for more money from a school, and how to go about doing that. Can I leverage Carnegie's offer to get more money from UPenn?

Thanks in advance!

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I am wondering the same thing...I'm planning to leverage one school's offer to increase funding from another school, but feel a bit nervous about it. But it's not like they'll rescind our offers, so maybe we have nothing to lose??

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I am wondering the same thing...I'm planning to leverage one school's offer to increase funding from another school, but feel a bit nervous about it. But it's not like they'll rescind our offers, so maybe we have nothing to lose??

I'm curious about this too, especially since I'm not good with conflict/negotiations! Has anyone here done this before? I also posted this in the Bank but was curious. If I have a good (but not full-ride) award to school A and accept their offer, while others who do have a full-ride from school A turn down the offer, could I be in line to get more funding? Or would they be more likely to spread out that unused money to students who are either presently unfunded or on the waitlist? I'm not trying to be greedy, but who wouldn't like more money if it's offered?

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Firefly, I definitely don't know the answer to your question about redistributing funds once students with scholarships decline, but you raise another interesting question for the group.

Do waitlisted students ever get scholarship funding? I would have assumed no, that if you weren't competitive enough to get in the first time around then you're lucky to be in and they aren't going to throw money at you later... but as a waitlisted applicant hoping to get accepted to my first choice school, I would love to hear otherwise!

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I am wondering the same thing...I'm planning to leverage one school's offer to increase funding from another school, but feel a bit nervous about it. But it's not like they'll rescind our offers, so maybe we have nothing to lose??

I have heard horror stories of schools getting offended that you are trying to play a school against another and have rescinded offers. I suppose $4K is a modest sum that probably won't make a huge difference, but I just want to feel like I'm getting the best return for my investment...it is a HUGE investment after all, right?

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I have heard horror stories of schools getting offended that you are trying to play a school against another and have rescinded offers. I suppose $4K is a modest sum that probably won't make a huge difference, but I just want to feel like I'm getting the best return for my investment...it is a HUGE investment after all, right?

Well in that case a rescinded offer would make the decision making process easier. :D

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I question your assumption about "brand recognition". Carnegie Mellon is a highly respected school among employers, and Heinz would generally be considered a much stronger policy program than UPenn/Fels.

You mentioned location as a factor- but in all other respects, Carnegie Mellon/Heinz is a clear-cut first choice, in my opinion. If you are considering a career in public service, I do not think the UPenn name will get you anywhere that the CMU name will not; indeed, I might argue that the reverse is true.

Just my $0.02

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I question your assumption about "brand recognition". Carnegie Mellon is a highly respected school among employers, and Heinz would generally be considered a much stronger policy program than UPenn/Fels.

You mentioned location as a factor- but in all other respects, Carnegie Mellon/Heinz is a clear-cut first choice, in my opinion. If you are considering a career in public service, I do not think the UPenn name will get you anywhere that the CMU name will not; indeed, I might argue that the reverse is true.

Just my $0.02

I realize that Heinz has a stronger policy program than Fels, but there was just something about Fels that struck me. It's a much smaller program, and their commitment to their students and community really impressed me when I visited. After attending a mega state school (UCLA) for my undergrad, I'm looking for a program where I'm not just a number. I visited Pittsburgh last weekend and was just not very impressed. Fels just clicked for me, it's hard to describe. I realize I'm fortunate to have two great programs to choose from, one way or another.

I appreciate your 2 cents though! Are you considering Heinz?

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Funny how I found a thread on this topic, considering that I just heard back earlier this morning from the financial aid office at JHU SAIS. I wrote them an email on Monday asking if they might be able to raise their initial fellowship offer of $10k and mentioned that I'd been offered $16k from Fletcher. I also wrote how much I wanted to attend SAIS but that after comparing the costs of attendance at both schools, Fletcher would be a much cheaper option for me and that, unfortunately in my case, financial aid would be a huge factor in determining where I'd be able to go. I wrote all of that in the nicest and most polite way I could think of and received a polite denial hours ago. Here's the email they sent me:

"Dear _____,

Although our desire would be to award every admitted student some form of fellowship assistance, financially we are unable to do so. In an effort to serve our applicants, we have awarded as much aid as possible in our initial offers, and as such, are not able to take re-consideration requests.

We thank you in advance for your understanding, and we realize that graduate school is an investment to be weighed carefully. We hope that after a careful consideration of all of the benefits we have to offer, you will decide to invest in your future at SAIS."

I'm actually wondering if the SAIS fin aid office asked the director of the program I've been accepted to whether I was offered any extra funding by the program (which I was--I got an additional $10k from the program, but to my knowledge, the funding is from an external source, so I don't think the school's fin aid office would be aware of it unless it actually asked the particular program). Even so, I thought my request was still valid b/c believe it or not, even w/ the combined offer of $20k from SAIS, it would still be cheaper for me to attend Fletcher. :shock:

...or maybe the school thought I wasn't worth investing more dollars in, based on my application and credentials :lol:

...or maybe the fin aid staff had a feeling I would choose to attend SAIS regardless of their decision, in which case, they'd be right :lol:

I'm not sure what other schools' financial aid policies are, but I'd say it's at least worth a try. And I'd think as long as you're nice and polite when inquiring about the possibility of additional fin aid in your email, the worst they could do would be to say no. I seriously doubt any reputable school would rescind its offer of admission b/c of your inquiry, and if it does, well, it probably doesn't care about its students as much as it should, and you probably wouldn't want to go there anyway. Hope this helps. :)

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Thanks, dngo. You are in a better position to evaluate the intrinsic merits of the programs, since I have personally visited neither. I was speaking only of the respective reputations, and their impact on your employment prospects.

I am a first year student in another program (Chicago/Harris) but I did seriously consider Heinz last year. Somewhat ironically, my decision not to attend Heinz was based partly on financial considerations.

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Pika,

Was your offer given over the phone by the director of the program? My potential program director offered me funding over the phone last night, which I am thrilled about but it'd be nice to have some written confirmation before signing on the dotted line...

did your guy say anything about sending a letter with the info?

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Pika,

Was your offer given over the phone by the director of the program? My potential program director offered me funding over the phone last night, which I am thrilled about but it'd be nice to have some written confirmation before signing on the dotted line...

did your guy say anything about sending a letter with the info?

Well, originally the offer was meant to be given over the phone, but for some reason my phone didn't pick up his call, so the director sent me an email instead saying that I'd been awarded the program fellowship, which is in addition to whatever financial aid the school gives me. He didn't tell me anything about sending me any sort of letter or other written confirmation. But I know many SAIS students in my intended concentration have been awarded the fellowship in the past, so I didn't think it'd be necessary to ask, but you do bring up a good point.

I'll probably ask the director about this later today...

Edit: Or I guess the email could serve as a written confirmation, albeit a less formal one? I don't know; I'm pretty bad w/ all this administrative/legal stuff. And I don't know when or how the fellowship will be disbursed to me (all I know is that it will be paid directly to me in some way or another), so I'm still planning on asking about the details.

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I'm drafting my letter to UPenn now, and am wondering if I should specify how much Heinz gave me, or whether or I should just say leave it ambiguous and say "Heinz has awarded me a larger merit scholarship"?

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dngo, I would approach this cautiously, at least at the beginning. You might wish to simply ask if Penn has a policy regarding matching/adjusting awards based on other offers, without referring to your specific situation. They will know what you are getting at, and if they are receptive to the idea they will ask you what your Heinz award is.

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dngo, I would approach this cautiously, at least at the beginning. You might wish to simply ask if Penn has a policy regarding matching/adjusting awards based on other offers, without referring to your specific situation. They will know what you are getting at, and if they are receptive to the idea they will ask you what your Heinz award is.

That sounds like a great idea, as I'm trying my best not to offend UPenn, since I may end up going there anyway. Thanks, Stephen33!

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dngo, I just sent you a PM b/c I too am thinking about Penn. I didn't visit during their formal day, but when I did meet with them a few months back, I truly felt I belonged there. I'd love to hear how you're request works out. Also, Stephen33, great advice on how to broach the issue!

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East_of_Eden,

I know what you mean! The Fels Mansion was my (a Californian) vision of an East Coast Ivy League college experience. The faculty and current students were extremely welcoming and all took pride in their small program (I even got a current student to host me for the night and show me around!). Just sent you a PM.

For anyone else who's interested, this was their response:

Dear ____________,

Thanks for your email and warm note. As you saw on our admitted students' day, we pride ourselves on our personal touch and each and every staff member cares deeply about his/her work and believes in the Fels mission. Our students, faculty, and alumni also have the same dedication to Fels, so I am glad that this was evident to you!

At this point, we cannot make any more financial aid commitments since all our aid has been given out. Although we have already heard back from some applicants, we are still waiting for the majority of offers. We hope that admitted students will reply back to us before April 15th, so that we can re-assess our financial situation before students have to notify us of their decision. Regardless of our situation, I will be in touch with you in the days preceding 4/15 to alert you of the most recent status.

I also encourage you to visit the following site for the federal student loan forgiveness law, which will benefit students who intend on pursuing a public service career: http://www.fels.upenn.edu/Alumni/resources.html

Let me know if you have other questions and have a great weekend.

Best,

Michelle

________________________________

Sounds promising enough, and at least they know that I'm seriously considering Fels and will gladly take any leftovers that admitted students turn down! :D

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On this topic,

I got a very solid piece of advice from a faculty member. Play your cards with the schools that are in the mix, but only approach schools you are willing to "walk away from" if they don't offer you any more aid. They have to be "last resorts", so to speak. It would be hard to say, "I can't come unless you fund me ... " and then, upon getting no more funding, still attend, right?

Hope that helps. It'll be my strategy. But, I should say, I've talked increased money availability with a director from a school at the top of my list, but only after frequent personal emails...

Hope that helps.

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That does help - thanks. Good advice.

If money were no object, Michigan would probably be my first choice, Chicago my second, and Duke my third. As the money situation stands now (turns out after living and paying taxes for two years in CA I STILL most likely won't qualify for in-state tuition at UCLA - WTF?!) Duke is most likely where I'll go, unless Pitt does something crazy like offer a full ride (not betting on it).

However, I feel like I've got nothing to lose begging Michigan and Chicago for some aid, so I think I'll try it. Worst case scenario is I piss them off too much to go there, which isn't a much different outcome than I'm headed to now since I can't afford to go anyway.

Hmmm.....

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yes, great piece of advice from Stephen33! wish i'd thought of that prior to sending my email to the fin aid office, though i doubt it would've made a difference in my case.

Pika & Escincau,

Do you mind if I ask which programs at SAIS are offering you department-specific fellowship funds?

Thanks!

the korea studies program. and i do think the SAIS fin aid office asked the program and found out that i'd been offered a fellowship, b/c i received an updated fin aid letter in the mail two days after they emailed me their response noting that the fellowship has been included as part of my fin aid package. yeah, i guess it was kind of stupid of me to hope they wouldn't know or find out :oops:

but it's true that nevertheless SAIS would be more expensive for me to attend, so i guess my case would still be valid...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was offered an excellent financial aid package from one school, but had been hoping to attend the Univ. of Denver. As people are talking here, I sent them an email (sent to people in both the Admissions office and Financial Aid office that I'd talked with previously). I outlined my situation (which was basically that I was really hoping to attend DU, but that I'd been made a significantly better offer by this other school), and asked if there was anything that they could do. Sadly, their response was that no, there was no way that they could come even close to what the other school was offering (I'd been specific in the letter). I don't know if this meant there was nothing that they could do or just that they couldn't do enough to come close to the other school's offer. But, in either case, it made my decision a lot easier. I will not be attending DU in the fall.

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