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I am an international student and about a week ago emailed my top-choice PI about the current status of my PhD application (top-50 university in USA). He said, that he is going to offer me a position with full funding via "graduate student researcher" assistantship.

Next day I have received a letter of acceptance. The email says "we are unable to guarantee you financial support at this time", blah - blah, please contact your department. I have contacted dept and PI, they say everything is OK, my program offers funding for everyone, I will get stipend and GSRship with full funding. Ok, I have accepted this offer officially.

But until now they refuse to tell me my exact salary and now i do not have any financial certificate, I do not know my GSR appointment, I do not know anything. I asked them to give me any financial document because I need one to apply for my visa, but instead they tell "you will get about 1,5-2k$ stipend, everything will be ok".

Ok, now I have to apply for I-20 and I can not do this because I do not have financial certificate for my first year in the program. The grad coordinator does not answer my email.

So, is it normal? What should I do? I am just waiting like an idiot because I even can't find housing (because I do not know anything about my funding)? I have rejected another offer (with official TA contract, which was attached to the acceptance letter). As I believe, they can just tell me something like "oops, we don't have funding offer for you" and I will search for another job outside academia.

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    Contact the International Office or similarly named department at the university in question and tell them your story. They should be able to help. – Bill Barth Apr 21 '15 at 20:48
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    Thanks, @BillBarth, International office has one answer for all questions: "please, contact your department". So I will just wait, hoping for some news from my department. – ElenLane Apr 22 '15 at 20:55
  • When is the deadline for the I-20? Or at least, when do you need it in order to find accomodation etc? Add some extra margin then communicate to them what that deadline is. – smci May 21 '15 at 10:23
  • They have sent me offer, but it took 2 weeks for them to compose it. In fact, without my inquiry I would not receive anything. Seems like they had no idea about international student' documents and visa stuff. – ElenLane May 24 '15 at 19:37
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Many departments guarantee that their students will be funded got a given period of time, although they can't provide specific details on where the money will come from in advance. That's probably what's going on here; they can't issue the letter yet because they don't know what they should write.

If you can't afford to wait to apply for the visa, then you should contact the international office at the school you'll be attending, as Bill Barth suggests in his comment. They should have plenty of experience issuing such documentation, or helping incoming students to get the information they need for their applications.

  • Thank you, hope everything will be fine. I hate this feeling of distrust of the admission system. Late April is the deadline for offers and so I will wait for answers from grad. coordinator. – ElenLane Apr 22 '15 at 20:53
  • I also curious about their answers. Why don't they just say something like "you have to wait, we cannot provide financial statement now, but we will do it next month". Seems like it is a question of university policy. – ElenLane Apr 23 '15 at 11:47

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