How to pay for Grad school?
March 2, 2008 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Best book or online resource for funding Grad School?

I keep hearing about how you can fund your studies through external sources, but all I see are scholarships that are either impossibly selective (for example, the Rhodes Scholarship) or fairly meager (under $1000). I don't mean to scoff at a thousand dollars, but I'd have to win twenty or thirty of these scholarships to pay for a year of school.

My situation: I got accepted into a doctoral program at a prestigious school. I haven't gotten an official acceptance letter yet, just a quick congratulatory note from the chair of the program. I therefore don't know what funding is going to look like, but said chair has mentioned the program is not in a position to fund their students throughout their students, and that the students are primarily externally supported. I can't afford to pay my own way. Before I give up, I'd like to know where I should look for funds.
posted by limon to Education (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What field? It matters a lot.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2008

Response by poster: Education.
posted by limon at 10:11 PM on March 2, 2008

Best answer: I don't know about funding for ed, so I can't be specific, but if nobody else turns up with ideas you should:
- ask the chair of the department what kinds of external support other students have gotten (there may be standard ed-related grants, fellowships, etc available from the government or private nonprofits) and whether the students apply on their own or if the department helps (or if these external things require that the student already be associated with a faculty member)
- ask if the department funds some students and not others, and if so, what the funding decision is based on (usually academic performance in the program each year; this means a stressful situation for students in the department)
- ask the chair if there a TA-ships, graderships, etc available, possibly in other departments (eg to teach English comp)
- ask if s/he means that they'll pay your tuition but can't offer a stipend, or if s/he means you would need to pay full tuition.

The chair should be expecting to answer this sort of question from new students.

My general advice is: do not take out loans to fund a PhD in any field where you will not make that money back in industry. So for example, a PhD in some engineering field might make sense to take out loans for, but a PhD in history would not. I am guessing that education falls into the same category as history, in that your expected salary after graduation is not great enough to justify taking out huge loans.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:23 PM on March 2, 2008

Best answer: Congrats on being accepted, but what I've always been told re: PhD programs is that if you are paying your own way, you shouldn't be there. To be blunt, PhD programs (and especially prestigious PhD programs) have money to fund their students. If they are not offering you funding or finding you money from an external source, I would go somewhere else.

I think it would be better to go to a less prestigious school that fully funds you (tuition, stipend, insurance) than a more prestigious school that you have to fund yourself. PhD programs are stressful enough without having to worry about money. However, it could be that they are planning to find you money externally somehow (grant from grad school, external TA or RA position, etc.) so it is worth investigating further to make sure that you aren't just misunderstanding the chair's comment. I'm not in an education college, but I work with ed people on a regular basis and even have a couple of them on my committee, so if you have any other questions my email is in my profile.
posted by jtfowl0 at 6:25 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The two previous answers are very useful for me, but I'd still appreciate recommendations for books or websites on financial aid, if anyone has any.
posted by limon at 10:48 AM on March 3, 2008

here's an overview (pdf of ppt, yuk!) of resources available at my particular library for both individual study and project-based grant funding. I especially recommend the free online directory kept by Jon Harrison at Michigan State.
posted by zepheria at 1:19 PM on March 3, 2008

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