This year I'll be sending out PhD applications (to the USA) for 2015 onwards. I'm also applying to an external scholarship (from my home country) and it seems I have a good chance. Note, this funding is for one year. More specifically it pays tuition fees and a lower end stipend for one year. I was wondering: what is the motivation to get external funding? What I've understood so far from the American system is that funding is usually guaranteed if you get admitted to an upper end university (although sometimes via TAing). (*) Hence why should I do the effort of obtaining external funding? Two things come to mind: (1) Build up some savings. Suppose I get the external funding and also TA, then I can save up some nice money. However, it seems likely that the money for tuition won't double, and I even think some (most?) scholarships won't give the stipend if you already get a stipend from the university(?) Maybe the virtue is then that one simply doesn't have to TA, leaving more time for the actual PhD, getting a head start in research? (2) A PhD applicant is probably more desirable if he has his own funding. However, I will only definitely hear back about this scholarship in February, which is also when a lot of universities make their decision, so it seems unlikely it could influence their decision. Is there a way to let it improve your chances? (Remember though, it's only for one year...) What would you say? All insights into the funding system in America is helpful! (I've looked a bit into it, but it's quite something.) --- (*) I've often come across the statement that getting into a PhD program without funding is a polite rejection. Indeed it makes sense: they're not convinced enough that they're willing to pay for you, but if you're willing to work for free they won't send you away. I suppose external funding can be useful for this, but it seems unlikely that one would be motivated to go to a school that is not interested. Either way, my particular funding is only for one year so that doesn't seem relevant here.