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This might sound odd, yet here is my story. I was lucky to get governmental scholarship (GSch) for 4-5 years of PhD to study abroad. But It requires student to work as Assistant Professor in a relatively smaller university in my homeland for 8-10 years afterwards. Which I would not like myself bound to after my PhD.

This is an advantage for sure to get admission in a top university. But by myself (without using GSch), I might also get funded by TA/RA. In that case, I wouldn't use GSch.

Should I mention GSch in the first contact with PIs or in PhD applications (i.e. in SOP)? I am asking this because once I inform them about GSch, it is unlikely to get TA/RA funds even though I deserve. I also don't want to lose the chance of PhD in a top university, I use GSch if needed. So there is a trade-off.

I can think of three possibility:

1 - Mentioning the GSch in the first contact, hoping that they will promise funding anyway if they this I deserve.

2 - Mentioning it in the first contact as it is a possibility.

3 - Sending another email and mention it if they reject me because of lack of funding (Would they say it is lack of funding?).

P.S. : I am planning to apply mostly to positions in U.S.

P.S.2 : Sorry for bad English level, edits are welcome.

Edit : If I decide not to get back to my country, I have to pay scholarship in 5 years with ~50% interest.

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    I'm not sure there is a correct answer to this, but I have one comment / question: what sort of work is it that you would do for 8-10 years afterwards? Many areas of academia generally require that you do two or three postdoctoral positions in different universities prior to applying for tenure track positions. If you aren't able to significantly advance your research career in that time, spending 8-10 years after your PhD at one university could seriously compromise your chances of getting a professorship in another country. – Moriarty Oct 27 '15 at 11:22
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    My rule of thumb if in doubt is full disclosure. That way, nothing comes back to bite your afterwards... – Fábio Dias Oct 27 '15 at 14:19
  • @Moriarty I need to work as Assistant Professor. Although I can work as post-doc somewhere else up to 1 year prior to that work, this option is undesirable for me. I would rather pay it back if I can (yes there is also this option with %50 interest). – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 15:03
  • @FábioDias in which way do you mean? Here we are talking about opportunities not secrecy. – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 15:03
  • You are in doubt if you mention something or not, that is a related issue. I would, that's it. My personal policy is to always mention related issues and let them decide if they are relevant or not in my context. Decisions are easier if you have all the facts... – Fábio Dias Oct 27 '15 at 15:06
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This is a tricky situation. If you mention the scholarship without explaining your reservations, then it might help you get admitted, but you'll be admitted with the understanding that you'll use this scholarship. Not having to pay for you is exactly why it could give you an advantage, so the department would probably be upset to learn that you didn't plan to use it. It would feel like a form of cheating, and you might face pressure (such as withholding other sources of funding on the grounds that you had this scholarship available).

If you don't mention it, then you don't have to use it but it won't help you.

Sadly, there's not much room in between these possibilities. You could try mentioning it but explaining your reservations about using the scholarship. However, this isn't likely to help your chances (nobody cares about the scholarship if you won't actually use it), and it might create an awkward situation if they try to convince you to use it.

I also don't want to lose the chance of PhD in a top university, I use GSch if needed.

This is a judgment call you'll have to make regarding when to reveal the scholarship.

Sending another email and mention it if they reject me because of lack of funding (Would they say it is lack of funding?).

Probably not. At least in my experience, rejected candidates are not given a specific explanation. On the other hand, you might end up on a waiting list, where you may be admitted if a suitable spot opens up (for example, if someone else turns down an offer). That could be a time when revealing the scholarship would help your chances, if you are willing to use it.

  • If I say I have a scholarship and they accept me, I would use GSch for sure. I don't want to trick anyone. --- When do you think should I reveal the scholarship? --- Mostly I am talking about contacting with PIs, do they give specific explanation for rejection? – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 15:56
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I see a few things to consider:

  • First, you need to read the terms and conditions of your GSch scholarship very carefully. Especially, what would happen if you decide not to return to your country.

  • How much of an advantage would GSch give you in your admission process? Have you contacted past GSch scholarship holders? Do you know what their experiences are? Ask them how this scholarship helped them getting into top grad schools.

  • Once you obtained information regarding these two points I listed above, re-evaluate your plans.

Good luck!

  • 1 - See 'Edit' in the original post 2 - I asked them, they all think that it will improve my chance significantly. – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 15:06
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You should list this scholarship on CV as an award with "(declined)" after it. This will make clear that you were qualified to obtain the scholarship, but do not want to use it to fund your studies.

  • Yet, I didn't decide not to use it. If it will place me in a position which I cannot without it, then I would use it. – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 15:51
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    @BarışGeçer I would not advise enrolling in an institution that will not offer you funding. An eight year commitment is too much, unless it is your dream job. – Anonymous Physicist Oct 27 '15 at 18:08
  • I can pay it back instead of working (in 5 years). What is your opinion in this case? Would it be worthy of it? – Barış Geçer Oct 27 '15 at 18:21

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