Congratulations! You’ve gotten into your dream school and you can’t wait to get started! But, you either didn’t get a scholarship offer or you got one that only covers some of your anticipated costs of attendance. What should you do?
Welcome to another installment of our Ask The Art of Applying® series where we give you a peek into what it’s like to be a client asking a question in our Q&A Vault. We bring you answers to your questions about getting into graduate school. This month, Adam, one of our consultants, is answering a question about how much you should ask for when it comes to negotiating scholarships for graduate school.
Our client asked: What should I do if I want to negotiate the amount of scholarship aid I get from graduate school?
Here’s the full question from one of our amazing clients, “I just received a scholarship from American University School of Public Affairs for $30,000, the equivalent of about 40% of total tuition. However, I’d like to negotiate for more. I’m wondering how much I should ask for. Is it better to ask for a higher number, like doubling it, and see if they accept that or meet me in the middle? Or should I begin with a lower amount in negotiations and see if it goes up from there?”
Always ask for more, but not for too much.
Our consultant, Virginia, weighs in, “Great question! I always advocate for asking for a higher amount when you negotiate.” Start high, but don’t go unreasonably high, because they won’t take you seriously. But, you should definitely start with a number that’s high and even feels a little uncomfortable for you. And, if they meet you in the middle, that’s much better than if you left money on the table by asking for something lower and getting half of that.
Should I write an email, or make my ask over the phone?
This can go either way because on one hand, you don’t want any specifics lost in a conversation. On the other hand, there’s a benefit to scheduling time to talk over the phone as it’s harder to say no directly to someone you’re speaking with. This also applies to making your ask in-person. Just be sure to be well prepared – since the admissions people negotiate aid all the time, they will be very skilled in navigating the conversation.
How much should I ask for?
Virginia says, “I do think you can ask for double the amount of your awards. But, keep these points in mind:
- What is the graduate school’s maximum award amount?
Sometimes public policy schools have limits they can’t move past.
- Do they have an established set of fellowships?
Depending on what other students got, you can infer whether or not it’s likely that you’ll get these things from the school too. It may not be realistic to start your counter-offers at a higher level than what their fellowships offer, like asking for full tuition scholarship with a stipend.
- What’s in it for them?
Although it would be great for you to have more scholarship money, you need to explain the benefit to them in giving you that money. Why should the school help you with a lower financial burden at graduation? Talk about why your contributions and planned service to the world aligns with scholarship funds. Pitch them on why they should be so excited to make your financial burden lighter.”
How do I get started?
Use your other awards as leverage. If another school is giving you a larger scholarship, the school you’re negotiating with may want to match that award. Bear in mind that if that award was from a less selective school, the school you’re negotiating with may not see that offer as the same as what they can offer.
One exercise to go through is mapping out your graduate school budget in a spreadsheet. Use different award amounts as scenarios for how you’ll spend your money and where it’ll come from to help you justify the amounts you’re asking the admissions committees for.
As far as amounts to ask for go, you should take some time to think through the scenarios and take a look at the named scholarships and fellowships the school already has. Ask to be considered for those scholarships and fellowships, especially if you haven’t already been awarded a specific scholarship. According to Kaneisha, if you name a specific scholarship you’re a fit for, it makes it much easier for the school to agree with you. Kaneisha had success with this approach at Harvard previously.
The Bottom Line: Should you ask for more money?
Kaneisha Grayson, Founder & CEO of The Art of Applying® says, “You always have the right to ask for more money and you should. Bring your financial aid letters and appeal email drafts to us at The Art of Applying®. If you bring them to a weekly Q&A call, we can go over them and everyone on the call can benefit from them. Or, you can submit them to your consultant for feedback.”
Where can I get more help with graduate school application and awards negotiation?
If you want any help applying to or negotiating with your dream graduate schools, book a Quick Call with us, and we’ll make sure you get the help you need. If you enjoyed this post, keep your eyes peeled for another edition of Ask The Art of Applying®!