View Full Version : Berkeley ARE is requiring me to commit tomorrow to go if I get FLAS funding

01-31-2012, 08:15 AM
Apparently Berkeley ARE has a couple days to decide some important things with regards to their FLAS funding, so they called me today to ask me to commit to them being my 1st choice if I can win this FLAS fellowship (16.5k, but only 1 year and requires taking a year of lang., which I think I can postpone and isn't too much of a big deal). I guess I should be happy if I can get in and get any funding, but I'm freaking out thinking about whether to say yes since I found an old thread saying Berkeley Econ's funding offers were around $22-25k, and any bit can help considering the ridiculous cost of living in the SF bay area. I could turn them down and hope for a funded offer from them or elsewhere (i.e. Cornell, Maryland or Michigan). Anyone have any inside info (i.e. the size of Berkeley ARE's funding offers, or my chances of getting them in this bad year), or just general helpful advice as I make this ridiculously important decision, in 18 hours or so? How reasonable an existence could I scrap by on 16.5k there?

P.S. for those of you worrying about whether you're in at Berkeley ARE they said this FLAS funding ultimatum has nothing to do with admissions. They need to decide funding for this now, and they'll figure out admissions later.

01-31-2012, 08:34 AM
Tough call. Berkeley ARE is at least as good as most of the programs you applied to. I think $16.5K is close to their standard funding offer for RAships and TAships. Their placements are terrific and Berkeley is a great place to live both in terms of social and academic life.

01-31-2012, 02:44 PM
Shoot an email to some of the current grad students (or have your contact at Berkeley put you in touch with some students). Feel them out. See if 16.5k is the norm for grad assistants and whether that amount is even remotely livable.

Also, bring your cost of living concern up with Berkeley. My notion is that UCB has some, although it may be at odds with the CA state budget, endowment funds to work with to sweeten grad students deals. They've revealed an interest in you which gives you the upper-hand -- try to bargain with them, or at least extend the deadline. I think it's a little ridiculous to make a student commit to a school prior to visiting/speaking with professors, but I know funding in California is a hot button issue.

01-31-2012, 06:23 PM
Good night sweet prince.

01-31-2012, 06:36 PM
I'm confused by your original post: what exactly is at stake with your response? Berkeley ARE is definitely the best of the programs you listed, but without additional resources it may be quite tough to get by. I would check what the cheapest housing options are; this will be the majority of what you spend. I was looking last year and rent prices were extremely high (minimum ~$1000 among those that I looked at, and many were higher), but I was not necessarily looking for the cheapest housing.

If you can afford to attend Berkeley, you probably should.

01-31-2012, 06:40 PM
Good night sweet prince.

As of this moment I've won neither admission nor FLAS funding, so I'm doing my best not to get my hopes up yet. They're just asking me to make commitments if I win both.

Thanks for all of your advice. I also took resource's suggestion to heart and shot some e-mails out. Hopefully I can get some last minute info/advice, but I'm obviously leaning heavily towards making that commitment right now. Only downside I found out today is you can't delay the language requirements so I would have to carry an extra language class in my 1st year, but I suppose it won't be that hard considering there's no macro comp. It might even be comparable to a TA workload.

01-31-2012, 06:41 PM
Berkeley ARE is definitely the best of the programs you listed.

Not necessarily. I don't think Berkeley ARE is strictly better than Michigan Econ, Cornell Econ, or Maryland Econ (which are the departments I presume the OP was referring to).

01-31-2012, 06:47 PM
Yeah, I was talking about straight econ programs. Strictly in terms of placements Maryland actually may edge out Berkeley ARE just because I'm more interested in policy placements to places like IMF and WB. Just in terms of the quality of the faculty and their fit with me Berkeley ARE narrowly wins. Sadly I was looking at housing prices recently and did see that its hard to get under $1000 without being pretty far away from campus, and since I won't have enough money to drive that will make extremely late night study sessions, which I remember as a staple of 1st year classes more difficult.

02-01-2012, 01:40 AM
Just out of curiousity, can't you go for it and also hope/assume if they like you enough to nominate you for this fellowship, you'll also get a department RA/TAship on top of that?

02-01-2012, 08:17 PM
Well, DGSE, what did you decide?

02-01-2012, 09:02 PM

I emailed them again some more questions since I found out there were restrictions on the language and an additional culture class I needed to take. Long story short it seems they didn't need as hard a commitment as it initially sounded. They called to confirm that they were one of my top choices and that was enough. I suspect they didn't have enough time to change the paperwork on the people/person they were submitting. Also, I suspect the reason they were calling me so late is they'd called others and I was a backup. Also, mainine I'm pretty sure they'd only offer me a TA/RA if I didn't get this fellowship.

02-01-2012, 09:09 PM
Awesome -- I am glad that worked out for you. Is that an unofficial acceptance, then?

02-01-2012, 09:14 PM
Ah sorry, resource, I meant to say that they wanted to confirm they were one of my top choices. I told them "yes" they are one of my top choices I just feel uncomfortable making any commitments just yet. You should have heard the jokes from my fellow math geeks about me being "afraid of commitment" when I told them about this dilemma.

In answer to your question, though, I think I can take it as a big positive signal for my chances of admission.

02-01-2012, 09:23 PM
Right -- that's what I interpreted it as. 2/1 is way too early to make any decisions. Congrats on the "big positive signal," Berkeley ARE is a fantastic program.