Funding Your Graduate Education

For graduate study, universities support students through fellowships, teaching appointments, research assistant positions, or a combination of these sources. The monies available are often dependent on the size of departments' and schools' endowments and resources that may be available through the Graduate Division. Each school or department has its own methods of distributing fellowship funds. Keep in mind that little funding is usually available for terminal master's degree students.

  • Inquire about fellowships that are available. Ask about the number that is generally received by students in your department. Does it usually include tuition, fees, and/or stipend? Does tuition include out-of-state tuition and what is the level of the stipend? Is there summer funding available?

  • Complete any fellowship requirements for each school you are applying. You may have to fill out specific forms or applications to be considered for a fellowship. Some state schools may also require that students complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA requires graduate students to complete financial information for themselves only, not their parents.

  • Apply for national, portable fellowships. Early on, identify national fellowships for which you may qualify (in addition to university monies), such as the Mellon Foundation, Jacob Javits, and Ford Foundation, among others. Be aggressive in applying for national fellowships. Apply for small fellowship amounts, as well as big. Do not depend only upon the university to which you are applying for funding. Graduate school is a long, expensive venture and you will need as much financial assistance as possible to see you through.

  • Do not count on large loans to see you through graduate school. Financial aid in the form of loans can add up quickly in graduate school. Do not plan to attend graduate school on loans alone. If you do, your loan total will be very high at the end of the typical six or seven years it takes to complete a doctoral degree in the arts and humanities.

  • Keep in mind that information on forms is requested for a particular reason. Each field exists because a decision about financial assistance requires the information requested. Sometimes monies from specific sources are earmarked for students from particular backgrounds that are specified by the donor or the source.