This is how my negotiations went
that was a great (albeit condensed) example of how the negotiation process might go for applicants at every level.
Assuming I'm lucky enough to get an acceptance, can I actually be this direct? At $15k/yr, I'm attending (no ifs or buts)?
you can still be that direct without sounding quite as entitled. personally, i wouldn't name an exact figure or include the ultimatum, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with emailing to discuss your financial situation as it relates to the viability of your matriculation.
I think it should be added to the top of the article - APPLY BROADLY.
As for negotiation style, do you really have to worry too much about how you phrase it? I didn't do that much negotiation, but I was successful just saying "I really want to go to this school but I'd like you to please consider other offers of $X from School Y and, etc." and I just emailed them scanned copies of award letters.
good advice. applying to more schools increases your chance at picking up those valuable negotiating chips outlined above. you really can't have too many options.
it actually sounds like you phrased your aid-related correspondences quite well, and, even if it didn't feel like it at the time, emailing them copies of competing award letters is a great example of the negotiation i talked about in the article. the assumption is that they often base their offers off of the existence and amount of competing offers rather than just offering a scholarship to everyone who deserves one.