*Typical categories of funding for graduate education include graduate assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, grants, and loans.*
Not all graduate programs offer funding and it is often highly competitive. You should be certain that you indicate in your application your interest in applying for any forms of financial aid available, requesting the packet or necessary application materials for such. Upon acceptance to graduate school of a particular academic department, you may be offered a "package"which could entail funding from several of
funding categories. A breakdown of the package may consist of a combination of paid assistantships (teaching or research), tuition reduction / remission or waiver, fellowships, grants, or scholarships (which may or may not have service component). Students may occasionally secure loans (to be paid back usually with interest).
For graduate students, the first point of contact to initiate application proceedings for financial assistance is the department of study or school. Beyond that, students may be referred to the Office of Financial Aid, Scholarship Center or its equivalent. There are websites and directories available online that provide information about
government, private and institution- based aid. There are often organized by field of study, region, or specific student profiles.
It is very important that you fully understand the terms and definitions of various sorts of aid and there may differ widely from school to school:
Awarded by academic departments. Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA or TA) with half time appointments generally receive a stipend plus a full or partial tuition waiver. Graduate Research Assistant (GRA or RA) most often receive a stipend and may receive tuition reduction or waiver. Highly competitive, merit-based.
Awarded by academic departments, schools, governments or foundations to support professional development while student pursues advance coursework, research or writing dissertation. Highly competitive, merit-based.
Typically awarded by academic departments or schools to recognize outstanding achievements, ability of need. Amount is usually less than other forms of aid. Competitive, merit-based.
Awarded to support specific research or projects, covering expenses directly related to research activity. Selection based on quality, originality, and importance of research and potential to carry out project successfully. Competitive, merit-based.
This type of aid should be considered as last recourse. All loans must be repaid after the conclusion of studies, usually with interest attached. Statistics do show that two-thirds of all graduate students use loans to supplement their financial aid resources. There are few loans available in the USA for international students and they often require a co-signer who is a US citizen.
Source: University of Kansas
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