I recently won an NSF mathematical Science Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at University 1. At this University, the math NSF postdocs have a have a much lower salary and benefits than regular "named postdocs" (XYZ Assistant Professor)and during their 2 years of half-time NSF support teach two thirds the amount (despite only half the salary coming from the university). I did not get a regular postdoc offer from Uni 1.

At the same time, I have a 3 year postdoc offer from a fancy institute at US University 2, with significantly higher salary than regular postdocs at Uni 1 (which is already much higher than NSF postdocs at Uni 1), more travel funding than the NSF MSPRF, and NO teaching unless I want to.

Research wise, Uni 1 is a better fit. Would it be reasonable for me to leverage the Uni 2 offer to perhaps convince Uni 1 to raise my salary during my NSF postdoc there to the level of their regular postdocs and maybe give me the title of a regular postdoc at Uni 1 for one or two years when I am there? Or perhaps reduction in the number of courses I have to teach? If so, does one go about it?

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    While I like the question, I would propose to make it more general. E.g., the underlying problem seems to be: "How to negotiate with University A using a better offer from University B, given that you actually want to go to A", right? – xLeitix Jan 21 '14 at 16:18
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    Are the two universities in places with similar costs of living? If not, the salary difference might not mean a whole lot. – Tara B Jan 22 '14 at 0:55
  • I think if you negotiate by leveraging a higher salary somewhere else, you need to be prepared to actually leave. Don't make empty threats. The extra salary and other pluses must be worth for you to go to the other place (taking all possible downsides of changing) if Uni 1 does not budge. – Captain Emacs Jan 26 '16 at 20:01
  • @CaptainEmacs -- absolutely correct. First rule of negotiating -- you have to be willing to walk away. If you're not, and your adversary sees this, you have no real negotiating power at all, so all you can do is bluff and hope. – bubba Apr 10 '16 at 14:27

I think that there is a difference between University 1 wanting you, and having you because you come with an NSF. That makes a huge difference in whether you can leverage for a higher salary or not.

The fact that University 1 did not offer you their regular postdoc title sounds like a hint to me that they will probably not be up for negotiation. Though, it doesn't hurt to try.

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