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Polite version of "no money, no go, sry"


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It was between two MA programs. One is unusually specialized toward many of my interests, one professor's interests and activities perfectly and uniquely suited to mine (though she is a very new professor, and the Master's seminar she is teaching next year is much less directly related to my work), and I have had extensive correspondence with this person. I was accepted to this program with a personal letter from the department's grad. director, asked a number of questions, received very friendly and kind responses, told her this program was my top choice (which is/was true).


But no money. And the very next day I was accepted to the second. A vastly more prestigious program and university, with one of the leading scholars in my (broader) field of interest. And they are giving me a fellowship that covers all of my tuition. 


So I really have to pick the second. I can't take in (min) $50,000 of debt because I feel bad telling nice, friendly people "oh um actually no." And I am not unhappy to do it either. And I know they expect some students to decline and they're not my friends, or what-ever. But...I don't know...I would feel bad, just saying "I appreciate your offer very much, but must unfortunately decline. I will continue to follow your research with interest. mvh, Klondike" after the more personal (and very nice  :() communications. So is it a good idea to mention that my decision was due to funding? Something like:


"While I am still very passionate about the research ongoing in your department, due to the financial difficulty, I must regrettably decline your offer of admission. (plus a specific sentence about their research, and wanting to keep in touch)"


Maybe this just sounds silly, but I feel so bad saying no to nice people.

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Have you tried asking for funding from your top choice, mentioning there was no way you could afford to attend otherwise?


You have a funded offer from a more prestigious program, which provides you with some leverage to request funding from your program of choice. If they decline your request, then your reasons for declining their offer will be clear. Unless they are completely out to lunch, they will understand your decision.

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I may do, but they mentioned they have only 6 scholarships to give to 15-18 students, and all on the first list have received those offers, so unless several of those decline, I think it is all over. I will of course wait at least a week or two.

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