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How do I fund graduate study?

"Graduate School + You" Information Clip

Click to view this short video clip from a recent webinar about:
"Finding Funding for Graduate School"

Graduate education can be affordable as there are numerous opportunities to receive funding from a specific program or school, or an outside source of funding too.  Just as with selecting a program, searching for sources of funding can be a bit overwhelming.  Where do you start?  As with all steps of the graduate admissions process. do your homework about funding sources.  Do not expect someone to approach you with some kind of funding source just because you have shown an interest, or even sent in an application, for a specific program. Funding for graduate school, just like all other aspects of graduate school, requires a lot of planning and work on your part.

Types of funding

Consider these terms to be keywords when you are looking for ways to fund graduate education. While some of these sources of funding do not require repayment, you may be required to perform certain job duties, including teaching, research, or administrative tasks.

  • Grants
    • Can be grants, fellowships, or scholarships.  These provide funding for a specific purpose or task, such as supporting a research project.  These may cover additional costs, such as tuition and fees.  Great for professional development.
  • Graduate assistantships
    • Can be in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or graduate assistantships.  These provide funding for a specific job, such as teaching a course.  These may cover additional costs, such as tuition and fees. Great for professional development.
  • Loans
    • Require repayment, may accrue interest, should be considered a last resort for graduate school

Funding sources

Funding can come from federal agencies, non-profits, and several other organizations.  Funding can be used for specific research projects or initiatives too. For example, Ball State maintains a fantastic resource of funding opportunities and has additional resources for funding specific projects.  Your own institution may have similar pages with more specific resources to your interests.

Assistance with finding funding sources

Finding funding sources for graduate education can be as overwhelming as identifying a program to which you would apply. There are people at the program or school you would like to attend who may be able to assist you. If you are enrolled currently as a student at a university, there is likely someone on campus in charge of external grants, scholarships, and fellowships who could help you.  If you are an alum, people from that specific school may be able to assist you too.  For example, at Ball State University, Dr. Barbara Stedman is in charge of assisting students with applying for national and international scholarships.

Sources of funding are not “free” money. Grants, scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are a privilege, not a right. You may need to consider the following questions as you research funding sources.

Questions about funding:

  • How does this source of funding affect my graduate school experience?
  • What specific expenses does this source of funding cover?
  • Do I work a certain number of hours? 
  • Do I have an obligation to teach? 
  • Is there a responsibility to conduct specific research?
  • Do I need to maintain a certain grade point average?
  • Do I need to consider multiple funding sources to cover my expenses?
  • Do I need to consider graduate assistantships and grants from within my department specifically or are there opportunities available from other university offices or departments?