Long story short: I was very uncertain where I wanted to attend school, and going into the final week before my deadlines I hadn't committed to any school. On the very last weekday before the end of the cycle, this past Friday, I received an email offering me a full ride at UChicago (not a Ruby, a Hormel). Before that I had been offered $75k to UChi and was about to bite the debt bullet and go to Harvard.
Here's what I suspect happened: UChicago has a named scholarship, which is in recognition of an applicant's demonstrated commitment to public service (though doesn't come with any requirements that you do that kind of work in the future) along with general merit, and it has to give it to someone. Initially they gave it to some other applicant. That person sat on it until the very end of the cycle, then turned it down. They needed to give it to someone, so they needed another applicant with good PI credentials, ideally one who hadn't committed yet. There I still was. I can't be sure that's what happened, but the fact that I was offered this at the extreme tail end of the cycle, after having received a good but far from enormous scholarship offer earlier, makes me think that's the likeliest story.
I have a love-hate relationship with this website, but I have gotten lots of helpful advice and bits of knowledge from here so I figured I would try to return the help and share what I think is the biggest lesson of my personal cycle: don't commit before you have to. You can be sure in your mind, but don't tell the school until the end. You maintain your bit of leverage over the school, giving them an incentive to keep looking at you if more money comes available, and importantly you don't sacrifice a single thing by not sending your commitment form into the school until their deadline.
Someone can (and will) tell me if I'm wrong, but to me this just seems like a no-cost bit of strategy that I haven't seen suggested all that much around here. Hopefully it's of some use to some of you future applicants.
(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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