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How does one fund graduate school?

  1. Apr 9, 2009 #1
    I got into graduate school! yay! I'll have a "Dr" in front of my name.

    Here's the problem: there is no funding associated with the offer. Thus, no TA/RA in return for tuition and a stipend,or any such thing. Does anyone know of any options or funding possibilites? or rather, how did everyone pay for thier graduate study?
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  3. Apr 9, 2009 #2

    Everyone with a Ph.D. whose source of support I know about was supported by their department for the duration. This isn't universal (obviously), but I think it's the most common path. I suppose student loans are available, but the idea of taking out loans to fund an open-ended degree program would scare me...
  4. Apr 9, 2009 #3
    yeah,it scares me too. I am not the only one this year this has happened to, either. I think the schools know they don't need to give money to entice students away from the job market. So many more people applied to graduate school this year, they probably didn't see the need to give a lot of money to those accepted (got to love supply and demand).
  5. Apr 9, 2009 #4
    Just off the top of my head besides the NSF and NSDEG fellowships you can also look for funding from the military branches (air force, navy, etc.), look for teaching fellowship funding and look for some new federal and state grants that have been given out recently (I know there's some money is state space grants, etc). It'll still be tough but you might be able to find something if you're proactive.

    With respect to the tuition/benefits as long as fill out fafsa and show a need you should be able to get some money there from the institution.
  6. Apr 9, 2009 #5


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    Dont do it or transfer after Masters theres no reason you should take on that amount of debt
  7. Apr 9, 2009 #6


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    That's your immediate response? :rolleyes:

    Personally, I wouldn't take on such a place. I don't think it's worth taking out loans to pay for 5+ years of grad school. I also don't agree with your summary that schools don't need to give out any money this year due to the financial situation: I can't think of many people that would see this as a sound investment.
  8. Apr 9, 2009 #7
    I do not mean to discourage you, but being accepted without funding is essentially a polite rejection. I think you will be much better off in the long run if you take a year off and strengthen your application (retake the GRE-Ph, publish a paper) and look for an acceptance with financial support next year. I think that you will lose more than one year of salary paying your grad student loans if you take that path, so waiting a year to go into grad school does not really cost you much.
  9. Apr 9, 2009 #8


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    There is another scenario here that hasn't been discussed. For many schools, especially smaller ones, they tend to not give assistantship, or there's only a limited number of assistantships that are available, to incoming new graduate students. However, after you pass your qualifier, then there almost an excellent chance that you can get at least a TA'ship, if not an RA'ship.

    So I would imagine that one has to pay for maybe 1 to 2 years worth of graduate education, but not the full ride, assuming the school isn't hiding anything and not simply a diploma mill. Again, talk to a faculty member or the dept's representative on such possibility. It may even be that after you're there for one semester and become familiar with the staff and faculty member, that you could wiggle yourself to get a TA'ship. Without knowing more about where you will be enrolling, it is hard to predict what's available.

  10. Apr 9, 2009 #9


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    I have some contrary advice here.

    First of all, I would get in touch with the department you've been accepted into and speak with a graduate advisor. It is possible that the department does not fund the students because most are supported through the grants of their supervisors. Financial support may thus be a factor to consider when selecting a supervisor.

    Second, just like in undergrad apply for any and every scholarship you qualify for. I realize this can be tough, but it's to your advantage to meet with a potential supervisor, hammer out a rough project outline (even if you're not sure it's something you want to commit to) which you can submit as part of the scholarship applications. This also gives you a jump-start on your thesis work.

    I disagree somewhat with taking a year off to improve the strength of your application (unless you really have no interest in attending the school you've been accepted to). The reason is that this is essentiall trading something you have for something you might get. What you could do is go through a master's degree, get the publication(s) etc. (much more probable in a graduate program) and then apply to a PhD program that has support.

    Finally, you can work part time through graduate school. If they are not offered through your own department, you can look to other departments for teaching assistanceships, tutoring or marking opportunities, etc. I once took a job as a lab demonstrator at a nearby community college and it worked out quite well.
  11. Apr 9, 2009 #10
    Not all schools just automatically give you a TA position when you apply. For instance, my school requires you to first talk to faculty members after you have been excepted and then if your lucky you will get something.
  12. Apr 9, 2009 #11
    Thank you all. University of Washington is pretty good for what I'm going into, so it isn't just a degree mill. I'll look into the options given above (except for the taking a year off thing, because my grades this year haven't been as good as before).

    :) arigato!
  13. Apr 9, 2009 #12
    Interesting you mention University of Washington. They did the exact same thing to me. When I pressed further they said I might be able to get a TAship on my own by finding an individual department who needed TA's. At the time I didnt really give it much thought since I had decided not to go there anyways, but later I talked to one of my friends about it and he said they did the same thing to him. Perhaps this is their standard practice.
  14. Apr 9, 2009 #13
    Along the lines of what ZZ said --

    Based on what I understand, it is relatively common to not be funded for your first year. Usually they just put you in the masters program, and if you do well in your first year and make a good impression, then you will be able to achieve an R.A. or T.A. position in your second year (and all the rest of the time, obviously). Plus, you can apply for a lot of fellowships in your first year through NSF, DOE, NASA, and lots others. It seems like you are confusing (or failing to distinguish) funding for first year between funding for other years.

    For example, even a lot of departmental fellowships only last for the first year or first two years, so even the students who are awarded funding are expected to take an R.A. or T.A. position after 1-2 years. For an unfunded student, it is exactly the same, except the first year is usually unfunded, and the second year funding is more merit based. (Of course, there's also bad-*** fellowships that cover people completely, but those are more uncommon.)
  15. Apr 9, 2009 #14
    I dunno about this. The other programs I was accepted to, as well as the programs my friends were accepted to (in math/science), all offered funding to first year phd students in some form or another (TA RA or scholarship). UW seemed like the odd one out.
  16. Apr 9, 2009 #15
    I'm not sure what's your point. The fact is, some people get accepted without funding. That doesn't mean they don't have funding for all five years -- it's not like a contractual stipulation, it's just an omission of an initial funding award.
  17. Apr 10, 2009 #16


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    Some people does not equal
    It is common to be funded for Phd programs. It is uncommon to be unfunded to PhD programs .

    It is common to be unfunded for Masters programs.

    I am assuming we are discussing PhD/Masters in the Sciences which I assume is a justified assumption in a physics forum.
  18. Apr 10, 2009 #17
    I am still confused. The purpose of this message board is to answer the OP's question. What new information are you providing?
  19. Apr 13, 2009 #18


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    A second confirming opinion that it is uncommon to be unfunded for PhD since there were conflicting opinions it provides a means of distinguishing advice based on knowledge and that which is not. More data to establish a trend in the advice.
  20. Sep 14, 2010 #19
    is this true for students doing a thesis in MS programs in engineering? where its common to start off unfunded but then find funding after a year?
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