Funding is something very special. It is that thing you never think you’re going to get, and even when you do get it, you don’t believe it’s true. I just want to debunk the myths of the notorious “full-ride.” Funding is real, and it is important.
The most helpful advice I ever received when I decided to go to graduate school was about how I should look at graduate school. I was told that when people ask me why I’m continuing your education instead of getting a job, I should look them dead in the face and tell them, “Graduate school is my job.”
Well, if it is a job, it reasons that I should be getting paid for my work. You should be too. There’s should be absolutely no mysticism about funding. Let me be perfectly blunt, if you are going for your PhD and the school is not offering you funding, I would seriously reconsider attending that university. Okay, there was the blunt statement, now let me back up a bit. Not all programs offer funding. Professional schools, such as medical, law, and business will almost never offer funding, and it is becoming less and less likely that master’s degrees will offer funding, but academic degrees/PhD’s almost always do.
Graduate school is a lot of work, and you should be getting paid for the work you do, especially if that work includes teaching, grading, and/or researching for the department/faculty. If you are seeking a master’s degree and they are not offering funding, then ask the department for A.I. (assistant instructor), T.A. (teaching assistant), or R.A. (research assistant) opportunities.
It is important that you are looking into these avenues as some schools even compete for attendance to the point that your financial awards can be negotiated. If you are really qualified and a bit little bit lucky, you may even be eligible for a fellowship. Fellowships offer stipends to students to attend graduate school. They come with all of the perks of an A.I., T.A., and R.A. but none of the responsibilities—other than grades.
What this blog hopefully reveals, is that there are a lot of funding out there. Please look into them. Do not be distracted by the gold lettered “acceptance letter.” Do your homework, make sure where you are going is offering you a nice package that fits your needs.
For more information on these opportunities please contact your school’s department of graduate studies or look into a number of graduate resources on fellowships and academic appointments. The McNair program, along with many others like it, offer a wide range of financial opportunities. If there is a will, there is a way.