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I applied to PhD program and gladly received official admission offer on the 29th of March. They guaranteed me four-year funding. I accepted the admission offer and was preparing for obtaining student visa. I accepted the offer on the 13th of April, declining two admission offers from other institutions.

However, my application page suddenly changed that my admission is rejected. A staff of the department said that they decided to rescind my admission offer on April the 22nd. What can I do now?

I received this message this morning:

My sincere apology for this unfortunate admission circumstance. There was a misunderstanding after the initial admission process, and the initial determination of "Deny" for your application made by our faculty was indeed the decision that should have been maintained. Later, due to a misunderstanding, we reversed the admission decision from "Deny" to "Offer". After this change was made, the faculty who had considered your application - and who denied your admission - confirmed their denial of admission due to lack of funding available to support you. For this reason, we needed to change your offer of admission back to the original "Deny" status. Yours was a very competitive application, and I am sorry to have to rescind our offer of admission. We therefore ask that you disregard our offer of admission and funding, which were made in error.

My sincere apology for this misunderstanding, and best wishes to you as you pursue other graduate program offers,

  • Side discussions on similar cases, answers in comments, and similarhave been moved to chat. Please read this FAQ before writing another comment. – Wrzlprmft Apr 24 at 7:58
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    Given your username, the details, etc., I assumed that this is happening in the US and tagged the question accordingly. Please edit your question if this was incorrect. – Wrzlprmft Apr 24 at 8:03
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    Are you sure there wasn't any fine print or language saying your admission was contingent on available funding or something similar that would allow them to do this? It does seem odd they wouldn't feel at all obligated to follow through. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 25 at 2:44
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    @GotoSeattle Would be interesting to hear how this went on further? What did you do and what was the outcome? – lordy May 15 at 9:49
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I would recommend the following:

  1. Contact the other universities and ask if they might still be willing to admit you (this might be the easiest way out). If the answer is negative make sure to keep their answers for the later points.
  2. Write to the university that revoked the offer stating (in a friendly tone) that you turned down other offers due to their offer and that this situation leaves you (and them) is a suboptimal situation. If the result of point 1 was negative then add this information too. Ask them for a solution. If the mistake was made just on your application then they might consider admitting you to avoid a law case. If they wrongly offered to all applicants (e.g. software bug) then they will not be able to do this.
  3. If point 1 and 2 do not lead to anything then write to them a second time threatening with a law case in order to cover your damages caused by their mistake. But still in friendly words along the lines that you would prefer not to etc ... (Many people in the comments below suggest to skip this step and go for the lawyer right away "Never threaten to sue. Either do it, or don't").
  4. Get a lawyer to discuss further actions.

Other points to consider:

  • How long was their offer there? If it was just there for 30 min it might be different to being there for days and they decided to revoke weeks after you accepted.
  • Was the offer conditional on anything?
  • Assume you win with the help of a lawyer - do you want to spend the next 4-5 years of your life in this environment? I am not saying yes or no - it is just something to consider.
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    According to the original question, the admission offer was made on March 29, and the rescinding email was received on April 23. That's almost four weeks. In particular, the rescinding email was sent out after April 15, which is the common US deadline for accepting all first-round graduate funding offers (and by extension admission offers), making it much less likely that other universities can still extend admission and funding. – JeffE Apr 23 at 9:46
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    You may want to flip points 3 and 4. Having the letter on attorney letterhead will carry much more weight. – Pyrotechnical Apr 23 at 12:31
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    @lordy I suppose, but I think you'd be in that venue anyways if you are intending to write a letter threatening legal action. At least if it's on an attorney's letterhead, the attorney will help craft the letter that cites specific and appropriate law; ideally the letter is forwarded to the university's legal department and they determine it's not worth the cost of a legal battle and provide a concession presumably with an NDA attached. – Pyrotechnical Apr 23 at 12:37
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    @lordy I would be surprised if such letters were not shown to the legal department on the Uni side of things from the very start anyway. By threatening to use legal action without seeing a lawyer first, OP just gives Uni opportunity to be the first party that actually puts lawyers at work on this. – Mołot Apr 23 at 13:36
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    -1 Never threaten to sue. Either do it, or don't, if you decide to seek a lawyer's input into this,do it before point 3, not after. You don't want to play your hand prematurely, and IF they believe you, they will cease communicating with you entirely. If they don't believe you're really going to sue, you just look like a jackass to them and erase all goodwill that they could have possibly had towards you for their mistake. – Adonalsium Apr 23 at 14:27
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I wouldn't bother with the legal threats. Call the institutions that made the other offers as soon as possible. Probably one will come through.

It's unfortunate and makes the uni look bad. But in reality things like this happen some small fraction of the time. Just like job offers get pulled a small but noticeable amount of time. It's part of why I am on the side of people who find things have changed substantially and decide to go somewhere else (job, school) even after acceptance.

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    Yes, confirm that the alternate offers are no longer recoverable before considering the lawyer route with the rescinded offer. – MaxW Apr 23 at 18:45

protected by Massimo Ortolano Apr 26 at 5:55

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