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I got PhD offers from a few US universities this year, and I've been deciding between two of them. I needed to defer my start date to the next year, so I asked both departments. University A deferred my admission (so I'm already admitted for the next year), but University B deferred my offer, but I should accept it now, if I want it deferred.

Question: If I accept Uni B's offer and defer it, will I be required to comply by the terms of April 15th agreement as if I've accepted an offer next year, or as if I accept one this year? I mean, if I decide to take Uni A's offer next year, can I just withdraw my acceptance of B's offer next year and simply accept A's offer (as if I'd been given the offer that year and accepted but changed my mind before April 15th), or will I need a release letter from B?

I'm more inclined to Uni A, but they deferred my admission without guaranteed funding. They say every PhD student there is funded for the duration of the PhD, but since only my admission is deferred and not my financial package, it is possible (not likely) that they won't offer me a financial package next year. Uni B though, deferred the exact same offer, with guaranteed funding, but asked me to accept my offer this year. I don't know if I can do that, but take A's offer next year.

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The April 15th Agreement simply says that:

  • students have to inform their programs if they want to renege on an accepted offer after 15 April (no "ghosting");
  • programs cannot force a student to accept an offer before April 15;
  • "the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties"

As you see, the April 15 agreement has nothing explicit to say about deferred offers. But it doesn't really matter, because the April 15 agreement allows you to rescind your acceptance at any time so long as you inform the program (which you would hopefully have done anyway). There is no need to obtain a "release letter"; these were phased out before the Fall 2020 admission season.

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