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Negotiating Grad School Financial Assistance

  1. Feb 22, 2013 #1
    So I've received all of my grad school offers and it is time to make a decision. Of the four schools that I am seriously considering, two of them are offering much higher financial assistance which includes tuition and no TA duties (both schools in the states). The other two schools (Canadian) are offering a lot less money which also does not include tuition and includes TA duties.

    If I average out the costs over a year, and assume 2k a year for summer months, the school which I want to go to for its program among other things (let's call it school A), is offering only about 73% of what I could get at the two US schools, but this also includes working as a TA. It is also about 5-10% less than the other Canadian school.

    I was wondering if anyone has negotiated or has heard of people negotiating financial assistance with graduate schools on the basis of offers received at other schools?

    Additionally, I have applied for a fellowship, and will hear back from it in the coming month or so. The thing is, at school A, if I get the 17k fellowship, I'll only get 2k additional funding (10k goes to the school, 5k to the supervisor, 2k to me). I feel that if I got this fellowship, it may give me a bit more leverage in trying to get more assistance.

    What do you guys think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2013 #2


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    While in general I subscribe to the theory that there should always be room to negotiate, in most cases of graduate support my experience with Canadian schools has been that you're stuck with what you're offered. They just can't justify haggling with every student who comes along.

    Sometimes you can receive "top up" awards though. These are offered to students who, oddly enough, are coming in with awards already (such as NSERC).

    Your TA commitments can sometimes change too. You may start teaching in your first year, but after that if your supervisor has funding you can drop to a half TA half RA or even a full RA. The letter of offer establishes a baseline for what you can expect.

    Something else to consider is the cost of living, which can vary considerably from city to city. So more money may not necessarily translate into more cash in your pocket.
  4. Feb 25, 2013 #3
    I think it is very similar to what Choppy describes in the U.S. as well. At least the handful of schools that I am directly familiar with have a "standard" support offer... if the student wants to go and apply for additional funds from some other source, this is welcomed and encouraged, but the department has a certain budget per student, and that's it.
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