Jonesing in Janesville writes in...
How common is it to transfer from one MFA program to another? I'm slightly concerned about the funding situation at the program I'm attending in the fall. I chose it over several options offering better funding because the program is such a good fit for me and I just had that "gut feeling" that it was the right decision to make. It offers excellent assistance for the first year, then becomes a little less financially attractive for the duration of the program. As a back-up of sorts, I'm thinking about giving myself options at some of the schools I didn't have a chance to apply to in the last round because of money (I only applied four places because I was flat broke, but it ended up working out).
1.) Is it tacky to apply to other programs when I haven't even begun attending my (ideal) school?
2.) Will word-of-mouth make it back to my program?
3.) Will a school look down on me for applying while recently enrolling at another school?
I think there is the slight possibility of more financial support to match the support in the first year, but I can't bank on that. I'm worried about debt. My worries might be premature, but I can't help feeling the need to make other plans in case these fall through...and when it really comes down to it, maybe there are other dream schools out there too if this one doesn't work.
JiJ, it's not common, but not unheard of either. I had a friend who went from UMass to Virginia, and she doesn't regret it. She liked UMass, but felt that Virginia was a better fit.
In answer to your questions: Since deadlines fall in January, you'll have a sense of the program, including the 2nd year financial info, for a few months. The odds are that this question won't be much in your head then. (But it's a good question nonetheless).
I don't think that word of mouth will make it back to your program. It's possible, but there are confidentiality rules. Word of mouth isn't supposed to happen in these circumstances.
Finally, the committee (at the second school) might be hesitant to take you. If I were on the committee, and you were neck and neck with someone else, I'd wonder if you were still keen on transfering. It's a question that would be in my head, so yes, there is that danger.
I'd be interested to hear from any transfers in the comments section.
Re: Funding at your school, JiJ. I really don't like that situation (funded first year, possibly not funded in the second). That sounds like the ol' bait and switch to me. Do ask around when you get there about that second year. I mean: ask current and former students. You'll want to inside scoop to put yourself in the right spot.