I recently applied for an intensive language program at my university; the program's relatively expensive, but many students get full or partial scholarships to cover some of the cost. I just got a letter confirming my acceptance into the program, along with a modest scholarship. I'm thrilled, but, unfortunately, there's no way that I can afford this program based on the scholarship they've given me.

I have to write back to the program executive, who I've spoken with several times throughout my application process, either accepting or refusing the scholarship. What I'm wondering is: is there some way that I can refuse the scholarship while also hinting at the fact that the only thing keeping me from attending this program is money? I've had a lot of friends who have written letters along the lines of "I would love to enroll in University X, but University Y has given me a larger scholarship", and have gotten larger scholarships from law/grad schools. I'm wondering if sending an email like "I appreciate this opportunity and would love to attend, but, unfortunately, cannot afford the tuition" would have a similar effect, or does it seem... I don't know, slimy? Is trying to subtly manipulate my way into a larger scholarship inappropriate and/or a futile effort? Should I just politely reject the scholarship offer instead?

Any previous experiences/advice anyone has would be a huge help!

2 Answers 2


"I appreciate this opportunity and would love to attend, but, unfortunately, cannot afford the tuition" - that's pretty much the situation according to your description. It's not flattery, it's not manipulation, it's the fact, isn't it? It sounds just right.

It gives the commission full discretion to decide whether they consider you worth being helped over this hurdle.

Just don't decide to join, after all, at this support level without having a very good idea how to justify where your suddenly newfound riches have come from.


Just tell them. They are choosing to fund you because they want you there. If you do not accept, they have to go further down their list and because they are paying the money, they would like their first choice. Some universities even have scholarships for helping recruit students who are on the fence due to financial issues. They can't pull from that pool unless you say something.

There is nothing ethically or morally wrong about saying what your situation is and asking for more financial aid. The worst that happens is they say no.

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