Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

Post Reply
Bry793
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:04 pm

Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by Bry793 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:57 pm

Hi everyone. To make a long story short, I got into my safest of safety schools for my Ph.D. and I really don't want to go there. Two other schools I like have told me I'm waitlisted, but I won't hear from them until after the first school requires I make a decision. I am also doubting whether I want to go to grad school at all.

Because of all this, I'm thinking I could defer my admission to the first school (if they'll approve that) and then determine whether/where I want to go after hearing back from the other two schools.

If I defer admission to the first school, is it expected that I absolutely plan on attending that school next year?
Hope this isn't a stupid question, not really sure how deferral works. Thank you, everyone!

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by Nishikata » Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:16 am

if they want to approve your request, they will present you the paperwork that you need to complete.
the terms and conditions will be explained there. You can judge from the contents whether it will be binding or not. Just don't sign anything that you're unsure of.

Bry793
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:04 pm

Re: Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by Bry793 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:20 pm

Thank you! I had no idea it was even that formal of a process, so that helps to know.

astroprof
Posts: 114
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by astroprof » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:36 pm

I have never heard of official paper work associated with a deferral of an offer of admission and financial support. By requesting a deferral, you are essentially asking the department to assume that you are equal-or-better-than students who will apply in the subsequent year, such that you would be admitted if you applied with that cohort of students. If that is the case, they may be perfectly willing to let you defer. However, if you are borderline this year, then you are likely to be borderline next year. In this circumstance, they may be willing to honor the offer of admission (often there are university policies that state that the offer of admission must be valid for another year or two) but not the offer of financial support. We had this situation in my department many years ago. While we honored the offer of admission, the student was not offered financial support in the subsequent year because they were not competitive within that group of applicants.

Your question, however, is not about whether they will let you defer, but rather whether you are obligated to attend the institution if you do defer. The answer to that is "no." Students drop out of graduate school at many different points. By deciding not to attend after you have deferred, you are essentially dropping out of the program before you start. Thus, if they agree to let you defer while retaining both your offer of admission and financial support, your plan to defer is a safe way to give yourself options for other schools in the future.

Nonetheless, you may want to ask the school if you can get an extension beyond April 15 to make your decision for this year. Many schools will be willing to do this for one or two students in their prospective class, as we all want students to be happy with their choice of school. However, it is also important to note that if you do say "yes" to a school, you must get their official permission to withdraw before you can say "yes" to another school after April 15 (this is part of the Council of Graduate School's April 15 Resolution).

Another consideration is whether you want to attend graduate school. As a general rule, if you are questioning whether you should go to graduate school at all at this point in the process, you may discover that graduate school is not the right choice for you (unless, of course, this questioning is a result of imposter syndrome). A graduate degree is required for some select jobs, such as professor, lead scientist in a lab in industry, etc. However, it is not a requirement to work as a scientist. There are many interesting careers that only require an undergraduate degree. Check out the careers page at the American Institute of Physics https://www.aip.org/career-resources for other options.

jabennett2194
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Re: Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by jabennett2194 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:37 am

Great answer astroprof! Useful info here!

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Is deferral binding? Can I defer and then not attend?

Post by Nishikata » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:03 am

astroprof wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:36 pm

Your question, however, is not about whether they will let you defer, but rather whether you are obligated to attend the institution if you do defer. The answer to that is "no." Students drop out of graduate school at many different points. By deciding not to attend after you have deferred, you are essentially dropping out of the program before you start. Thus, if they agree to let you defer while retaining both your offer of admission and financial support, your plan to defer is a safe way to give yourself options for other schools in the future.
If an applicant accept an offer, I know that some schools (my undergrad school, for example) set a requirement that the applicant become obligated to pay for the tuition fee of the first semester even if the student decides to withdraw before the term starts. Given the tuition fee of US universities, this is a death sentence for an international student from developing countries. Since deferral request is also a kind of acceptance, I think that students should be careful in approaching this, and be sure that there are no legal complications of their actions.



Post Reply