Financing Your Graduate Education

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Graduate schools in the biomedical sciences will generally provide a comprehensive funding package to their students.

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Funding packages generally consist of a stipend, tuition and fees, and health insurance. It also may include travel awards, relocation fees, and housing subsidy.

Types of Funding

Fellowships are awards from a government agency or private foundation for support of a graduate student during advanced study.

Scholarships are usually gift aid to a student to support graduate study.

Grants are support that is usually applied for that may include support for research activities as well as some salary support.

Loans are a sum of money provided for a period of time and usually repayable, possibly with interest.

Research assistantships are a form of financial support provided to a graduate student for performing research; usually provided by the thesis advisor from their research grants.

Teaching assistantships are a form of financial support for a temporary teaching job; usually provided by the institution.

Graduate student assistantships are financial support for a graduate student for research that may or may not be related to thesis research.

Funding Package

There are some questions that you should ask about the funding package, regardless of the source.

  • What and how much funds are available and for how long?
  • How is the funding awarded?
  • Are there payback/teaching obligations?
  • Are the funding packages full/partial for the duration of study?
  • How is the funding renewed each year?
  • Is the funding sufficient to live on for that particular location?
  • Are there opportunities to supplement the financial aid package if needed?

It is particularly important for you to evaluate the funding package in light of the location of the school and the cost of living in that location.

Independent Funding

There are a number of sources of independent individual fellowships. You should ask the School if they will provide help with your grant application. This is particularly important if you are thinking about applying for an independent individual fellowship after you matriculate.

So why should you apply for an extramural individual predoctoral fellowship if you do not have to, particularly, prior to matriculation?

  • The prestige of winning a competitive grant.
  • Shows initiative.
  • Shows that you are a go-getter who knows what to do.
  • Alleviates the financial burden to the program.
  • Increases your competitiveness.

Even if the application is not funded, the experience of writing a grant proposal will greatly benefit you as you move through graduate school


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