Financing a graduate or professional education can be expensive. Finding the resources to meet these expenses can be a challenge. Ideally you should begin your research in your junior year. This is because many organizations that do have funds will have applications due in the fall for the following year.
Types of awards/assistance available
- Fellowships. Prestigious awards, often quite substantial.
They are competitive and based on academic achievement. Do not usually
- Assistantships. Paid, part-time employment that may
include a full or partial tuition waiver (often of the out-of-state portion
of tuition). Those with this type of award may teach, conduct research,
or work in student affairs.
- Loans. Low interest loans are available to most graduate
students. Contact the institution's office of financial aid for more information.
- Grants/Scholarships. These are gifts of money. They may be "free
money" with no obligation for work or repayment, or they may be for a specific
purpose. Science organizations, for instance, may award a grant for completion
of a student research project.
Sources of awards/assistance
When looking for financial assistance,
you should explore all options—federal, state, institutional, departmental,
professional associations, national and state agencies, and private
How to apply
forms of financial assistance. If you plan to access assistance
available through traditional financial aid (mostly loans at the
graduate level), you should contact the financial aid office of
the institution you plan attend to obtain the correct forms. These
will probably include the FAFSA and perhaps institutional forms.
2. The university
. Most universities have fellowships and other awards
managed through the institution. When writing for information about admissions,
you should request information about these awards. They may be administered through
one office or through numerous offices, so you need to ask. Each program will
probably have its own application form/deadline. The Office
of Graduate Studies
can help you identify opportunities as FSU.
3. The department. Teaching and research assistantships are usually administered
through the academic departments. When contacting the department about admission,
you should ask about these and the application procedure. If you are interested
in assistantships in other areas (housing, advising, orientation), you should
contact those departments directly.
4. National Scholarship/Fellowship Programs
. There are numerous national
and international programs, such as Rhodes Scholarships, Fullbright Scholarships,
Phi Kappa Phi Fellowships. Though you will use these at your graduate institution,
most are initiated from your undergraduate institution or through the granting
organization directly. Inquiries should be made early, as some have application
deadlines as early as September preceding entry into graduate school. At FSU,
the Office of Graduate
can help you identify these.
5. Your academic field. Some forms of aid are available through scholarly/professional
organizations associated with certain academic areas. Some private and public
entities also fund projects in certain academic areas. In exploring possible
forms of assistance, you should check these out. Either your undergraduate department
or your graduate department may be able to help you identify possible programs.
Each program would have its own application procedure and deadline.
6. Other sources. We often hear of
aid that goes unclaimed because no one has applied. Though perhaps not as plentiful
as the media would have us believe, there may be assistance for you if you
look hard enough--but you have to work at it! Your search should begin by the
end of your junior year, as many programs will have very early due dates. It
is generally thought that the fee-based scholarship services are not worth
their fee. However, there are good resources available both in print form and
over the internet. At FSU many of these resources are available in the STAR
Center, Office of Financial
Aid, 4474 A University
Some sources available over the
- FinAid. This
gives you a menu of other sites to explore
Aid Resource Center. Gives you general information about
graduate aid as well as access to FREE scholarship search services.