Yeah, the application here is pretty straightforward. Be sure to include a CV, whether the application asks for it or not. In terms of how many people are leaving...
I think three fiction PhD people graduated over December, and they weren't replaced this semester (but I don't know if they were on stipends or just straight instructorships). There's at least one fiction PhD person graduating in May, though I think it's just one. Also, another fiction PhD person decided not to do the PhD thing shortly after she got here last fall - a nice middle-aged lady with a family, who returned to New York because that's really where she belonged.
A lot of MA people are graduating, though, and the MA people compete for the same stipends. I can count at least four MA fiction students (including me) with the $10k TA who are graduating. I don't think they're competing for a PhD spot here, either - I'm going to FSU, one had a baby recently and I hear is going to take some time off, one is moving to wherever her husband gets a teaching job, and one is going to work for a newspaper. I don't know how many $15k TAs are available - those are pretty hard to get.
It looks like there will be quite a turnover in fiction this year, what with all the graduations. Poetry, on the other hand, I count two people graduating - one MA, one PhD. The MA student might stay for the PhD, which would leave just one spot open.
Oh, by the way, when I applied here I didn't mention anything in my SOP about reading Rick's or Steve's work. I also didn't mention that I think Donald is awesome. I think either one of those remarks would probably not work so well (unless you really do love Rick's or Steve's writing and can talk about it without sounding phony). Rick is also not a fan of: Dave Eggers, D.F. Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, (anyone who tries very hard to be clever in their writing). Both of them like Taniguchi and Kawabata for some reason. Steve also loves the Russian masters. Not to say that you should lie about your interests and influential figures, or that you should mention any of this, but, well, it's there for your reference, just in case you find it useful for whatever reason. When I first got here Rick asked me who my influences were and I mentioned Thomas Pynchon and he changed the subject and asked me what restaurants I'd already been to in this town. Haha.
Well, hope that helps.
Rie got back to me. She also said I could still apply. I'm going to have it all done by tomorrow. USM doesn't require too much in terms of materials (in other words, I've noticed that they don’t waste your time with a bunch of superfluous garbage), which is great; I have a dossier service so I can send all of my letters and transcripts in one easy package.
I did ask her if I could email my writing samples but I might just overnight it anyway.
Do you have an idea of how many fiction PhD’s are graduating?