Graduate school admissions

I am in the process of applying to grad school (Math). A few weeks ago I emailed a prospective school (UC Berkeley) about the likelihood of financial aid. Today I got a response, which indicated if admitted, I would get aid. Following a discussion of the admissions procedure, and the financial shortfalls in CA, the email closed with this:

Now keep in mind here that they have not seen my application. All they know about me is that (i) I want a Masters in Math and (ii) I have a Bachelors in Math.

Has the financial state of our universities become so dire that we must actively discourage students from applying?

Yes I will still be applying. I am also planning to apply to U. IL (U-C), U. MI, U. MN and U. WA…

Short, yes the situation is pretty bad in the UC system from a financial standpoint. My Dad’s a professor there (not in the Math department!) and has worked admissions.

Budgets are being cut, it sounds like they need to cut way back on admissions and there are people having trouble taking required courses because said courses aren’t being offered, again for financial reasons.

I’m not surprised that they include a general warning - wouldn’t want to send out a bunch of acceptances and then have to tell a mess of students on day 1 “Thank you for coming, now please go home, we’re full”.

Not a nice situation but there it is…

I wonder if they really meant to say ‘I suggest that you also apply to universities that are under less economic pressure than we are.’ As much giving you the heads up to the economic pressures as anything else.

And yes, the financial situation at some Universities is that bad right now. I’m currently familiar with the University of Minnesota system which is hurting. The department I’m in will probably have to watch admissions more carefully in the next few years, as they need to gaurantee funding to current students. We’re one of those departments that needs oodles of TAs, which have typically been first and second year students and a few older students. As the older students are losing funding options, they go back to TAing.

Of course, with international students having such difficult times obtaining visas, the whole situation may balance out. But that’s a whole other topic.

Good luck!

Yeah, man, U-C is fucked as are a lot of public universities, and morale is not good. They’re just being honest with you. I can see how that remark would be off-putting.

U-M is doing hard work trying to protect the academic side of things, but they too have had to make difficult and even painful cuts. Can’t recall what has been done in the math department, but it must not be too much because it isn’t trotted out as an example of how much pain we’re in. The state of MI may be making more higher ed cuts-- and boy the mood has been grim at work.

I’m sure the U of S. Florida isn’t up to snuff with most of the schools you are looking at. But so far as I can see, USF is alive and kickin’, hiring on new staff every day.

I think you should appreciate the suggestion and not take offence. Your email was basically a solicitation for money, and the response was basically: “Yeah, we can probably provide some assistance, but if you’re really strapped you should apply to schools that are better off.” Maybe they should have worded it differently, but I don’t understand what the problem is.

My school claims to be so broke that they’ve threatened to terminate subscriptions to a variety of literature indexes and databases. How are we supposed to do research if we can’t find the articles we need? But if school says it’s broke, there isn’t anything we can do. So to answer your question: Yes, the situation is bad at some schools.

If you don’t want to worry about money, your best bet is to apply as a Ph.D student. You can always drop out if you don’t like it and pull out of with a Master’s, no charge to you.