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Asking for financial aid


alecon

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I've been admitted to some universities, but my preferred one has only offered me a tuition waiver (they will phone me if they can offer me something else...). Is there any polite way to ask for funding? I know there is a person with a lower GPA than mine but a slightly higher GRE who has received funding... I have better offers from other universities, but I really like this one...

Thank you!

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The most you can do is tell them a version of what you said here: reaffirm your interest in this school, but tell them you can't attend without funding. Ask for a timeline for when you might hear about funding decisions and an estimate for your chances of getting it. You might mention having other offers but still preferring this school, if there was adequate funding. Unless the other schools are pressing you to make decisions before April 15, I don't think there is much more that you can do, except wait and periodically ask for an update and tell them you are still interested. 

Independent of that, I would strongly advise you not to compare yourself to others, it's not a healthy thing to do and also not really relevant to your funding decision. Beyond that, if you are going to do it, then at least look at relevant factors. GPA and GRE are among the least important factors in admissions decisions, so I don't find it at all surprising that someone with a lower score than yours could have had a better outcome. 

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I agree with what fuzzylogician has said about what to do -- tell them that you really want to go but that you can't attend without funding, and do not compare yourself to other applicants when you do this. Unless you know the applicant's SOP, CV, LORs, and full life story, you simply do not know enough. Maybe they were a bestselling author or they invented Velcro. And even if they didn't, you are questioning the committee's judgment and also tarnishing the applicant.

 

8 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

GPA and GRE are among the least important factors in admissions decisions, so I don't find it at all surprising that someone with a lower score than yours could have had a better outcome. 

Not so sure about this blanket statement. I think it depends on the area of study, program, and level. For the GRE it might ring true, but we would be remiss if we said that GPA was not an extremely important factor for many programs. All things considered, GPA is really the only transparent yardstick that admissions committees have to determine whether an applicant can succeed in the classroom. Some schools also have GRE cutoff scores for university-wide aid.

In the OP's scenario, however, it appears like we're splitting hairs. A point less on the GRE is not going to factor majorly into a decision on funding.

 

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5 minutes ago, mikeck said:

Not so sure about this blanket statement. I think it depends on the area of study, program, and level. For the GRE it might ring true, but we would be remiss if we said that GPA was not an extremely important factor for many programs. All things considered, GPA is really the only transparent yardstick that admissions committees have to determine whether an applicant can succeed in the classroom. Some schools also have GRE cutoff scores for university-wide aid.

In the OP's scenario, however, it appears like we're splitting hairs. A point less on the GRE is not going to factor majorly into a decision on funding.

The GPA is important in the sense that every component of the application is important and particularly low PGAs may be cause for concern. It is indeed entirely true that things are field-specific and vary (also: degree-specific; the GPA probably matters more at the MA level because students will on average have less research experience and not as strong LORs, SOPs, CVs, etc. than at the PhD level; it probably also matters more for professional programs than research-focused ones). Clearly, if you know that there is a GPA cutoff, you have to meet it; and sometimes there will be a cutoff even though no one told you. However, to say that the GPA is a transparent measurement of academic success is far from accurate. Grades mean very different things at different schools (and even different departments within a school), and if you throw foreign degrees with whole different grading systems and views of what constitutes a strong performance in a class into the mix, and you get anything but a transparent measurement that you could straightforwardly use to compare applicants. The GRE is the closest thing to that, but then we'd have to discuss all the ways in which it disadvantages certain populations, and why some schools are now moving away from using it.

Overall, I think we both agree that both the GPA and GRE, while important, are less important than some other factors. I think a more accurate way to put it is that low GPA or GRE scores could keep you out (or: hurt you on funding decisions), but it's the SOP, LORs, CV, and writing sample that really get you in. 

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Thank you fuzzylogician and mikeck!

I know GRE and GPA aren't the most important factors. However, this person was admitted in the second round, while I entered in the first one... Anyway, I don't want to compare myself to others, I am just trying to find an explanation to why I didn't get funding... I guess I can only wait for that phone call and write them often to ask for an update...

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