Finding funding is an integral experience of most graduate students’ post-baccalaureate endeavors. The majority of funded graduate students earn appointments as graduate assistants. In fact, some programs will not admit a student unless they secure a graduate assistant position. Similar to most other job searches, many graduate assistant positions require an application, record of previous employment, statement of skills, and an interview. GA positions, as they are commonly called, frequently appear in job listings as teaching appointments (as associate instructor or an adjunct), administrative work in a campus office, or research. Graduate Assistantships are often institution specific, some are even departmentally assigned. (For help finding Assistantships at IU, visit or contact the GradGrants center http://www.indiana.edu/~gradgrnt/ .)
A more flexible, and accordingly much more competitive, source of funding exist as portable funding. Portable funding refers to financial assistance that is not tied to a specific institution and thus may be used at any institution accepting the funding.
See the following list of websites to find and further explain portable funding:
* US News & World Report – http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-graduate-schools/paying
* Grad schools website has a page dedicated to portable funding – http://www.gradschools.com/article-detail/graduate-fellowships-1676
* The National Science Foundation offers multiple fellowships each year – http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=12759
Get a loan.
Unless you’ve worked full-time and stored up a considerable amount of savings, then you will more than likely need a loan to supplement your graduate assistantship. Some positions pay better than others. My assistantship as a ten month associate instructor is pretty common for doctoral students. The assistantship allows for a 97% fee remission for up to 12 credit hours in the Fall, 12 credit hours for the Spring, and 6 hours for the summer. Thus, 3% of the fees is still mine to cover. To help pay for that portion of tuition fees and help with living costs, I get a stipend that covers, just barely, the rent, food, and personal bills. During the Fall and Spring, the stipend is enough for just living, but not exactly enough for books and going out; moreover, it is no help at all in the summer. In which case, graduate students do a scramble every summer to find work for the two months we’re unemployed. It can be difficult, but doable. To survive the summer, I teach math for Upward Bound high school students and serve as a counselor for any other summer program I can find on campus. Additionally, I room with two other graduate students to keep the cost of living low. To avoid such hardships, most other graduate students get loans and live comfortably.
Now that you have sent in your application, you must be wondering what you should do next. Double check with your school if you need to submit separate applications for fellowships and scholarships. You will want to investigate these opportunities. It’s a good idea to talk to faculty of your department to see what departmental opportunities there are to apply for. Fellowships will provide opportunities for you not only to seek funding but also experience. What is important about fellowships is that they allow you to be secure regarding funding and during your first year as a graduate student, you can explore other options if your fellowship is only awarded for one year. If fellowships are not an option, begin looking for other financial assistance either through campus employment or working in the community if you are in need of funding while studying. Many schools and departments have research centers that may be looking for help. Make sure to be exhaustive in your search.
If you have missed the deadline to apply for fellowships, create a folder and collect information for the next year. Being prepared will help you keep a foot out front and have all necessary documents, recommendations, and information ready to submit at a moment’s notice. If you are needing recommendations, do not procrastinate. Professors will write you a better recommendation if they have time to prepare and not have to use a “canned” letter.
Stay tuned to next month about filing for a FAFSA.
What’s up blogheads I’m back! With some important information about grad school life. The topic this time is grades, gre, and funds [oh my!]. Christmas* is right around the corner and I have an early Christmas present for you. That right it’s the FTOD. Todays free tip is take advantage of test prep offered at your institution. Visit your campus’s Career Services. Often times they have partnerships with testing vendors.
My first year of grad school one of my colleagues informed me that they received free test prep from Kaplan just by going to a session hosted by Career Services. While I don’t believe in test prep as an industry. They do work. The main reason is they help test takers create a strategy to take the test. If you can’t afford test prep. Visit your local library, most will have previous versions of both the GRE and GMAT. You can also go to Barnes and Noble or another bookstore and by a test prep book. Remember practice makes perfect! So practice, practice.
GRE score and grades can largely determine what funding you qualify for. SO do well on your GRE and college grades that will go along way in increasing the number of opportunities that are available to you. Good luck.
PS – I love the Lion King… en Español! Check out the trailer por El Rey León!
Once you have submitted your applications, it becomes time to breathe. You may not know what the future has in store, but reading the tips from my colleagues, I hope you have been able to gain some insight into what a successful resume and CV looks like. Hitting the submit button or mailing the package is not the end of your journey. I remember sending off the five completed packages and trying to move my mind to something else. Yet, I know that is important for you now to move on to the search for funding options. There are many options that you should consider when looking for funding:
1. Institutional funding opportunities. This can be found on the graduate school website that you have applied to. Additionally, you may find information listed on your program website. Look for fellowships, grants, and scholarships. Be sure to meet the deadlines and do not hesitate to pick up the phone to ask questions.
2. Look for outside organizations that support graduate students. Organizations such as Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) offer free applications and other forms of support. It is important to recognize these early in your search and remember them throughout your educational experience.
3. Make sure that you understand the changes that have occurred with loan processes in the U.S. If this is an option for you, be sure that you recognize the penalties, fees, and restrictions.
Although this is a short list, I hope that it encourages you to make sure that you increase your knowledge of your funding opportunities.
When I graduated with my master’s degree, I was a happy recipient of a graduate assistantship. It allowed me to consider a doctoral degree as a strong possibility.
To be really clear: what follows is a very particular take on graduate funding, and one that emerges from (and speaks to) the social sciences. Every university and every college (within each university) handles things differently: what’s normal for me, in political science, is a world away from graduate students in physics, law, religious studies, and medicine! So, with that caveat in mind…
I’d venture that after finding the right program and the right mentor for you, obtaining funding at a reasonable cost to you is the most important factor in having a positive experience as a graduate student. Resources are scarce, graduate education is very competitive, and graduate students are very insecure; collectively these factors can make the scramble for funding an awful annual experience if you’re not careful. Here’s three thoughts on funding in the social sciences:
• Make sure that you can: (1) either afford to pay for seven years of tuition and your own living expenses—whether by loan or personal fortune (and you’ve definitely got a fortune if this is your path!)—or; (2) you have a guarantee for a certain amount of funding for a certain number of years before accepting an offer to join your program.
• Take seriously, very seriously, the search for funding for the entire course of your graduate career. If/when you’re funded by your department and have a steady stream of income it is easy to lose sight of what comes next. You should bear in mind two things about this ominous “next”: (1) eventually your funding will dry up; what comes then? (2) your ability to obtain external funding communicates to potential-employers both that you take your career seriously and that you have managed to convince a funding agency that your career is promising…
• I’d suggest spending at least 40 hours a year (only the equivalent of a work week, right?) searching for funding—and be methodical in how you keep track of the resources you uncover. Personally, I’ve developed a spreadsheet of funding sources that are germane to my work; I’d suggest considering something along these lines. Two implicit, but important, benefits of researching funding are: (1) you’ll also get a sense for which types of projects receive support and, (2) you’ll be compelled to think more clearly about your own work, which is always a useful endeavor!
….is part of life in graduate school. I haven’t really had an issue living within my means, as I’ve always been fairly conscious of my money and where it was going. However, there are a few things that are important to consider in terms of budgeting for graduate school.
Many programs at IU offer a part-time teaching contract with your acceptance to their department. To my knowledge, the packages range in amount and contract years–I think the average is something like 4-5 years of funding.
There are many places on campus where students can research further options for funding, including student loans, scholarships, fellowships, and work-study.
For nearly everyone arriving at graduate school from a paying job, of course, you’ll be taking a major pay cut. But that’s pretty obvious from the start…
In short, if you are smart about managing your money while you’re in graduate school, it’s entirely feasible to get through your program while staying comfortable and happy. It just means thinking carefully about the expenses you know you’ll have to shell out for, and the ones that you know are non-essential, even if you don’t want to admit it.