There are plenty of financial aid opportunities available to students, but we understand that they can be very frustrating to sift through. The definitions, differences, and requirements for each grant, scholarship, and fellowship can really test one’s nerves. Even the most collected student might wince at the sight of the bullet-pointed descriptions found in many awards.
Even when one knows the generalities, award classifications differ so much from one provider to the next that feeling lost is understandable. But don’t let all the rules and requirements stop you from applying. Take a deep breath and a sip of green tea, light a scented candle, and return to your search.
Many awards, especially fellowships, are worth thousands of dollars, thousands more than a summer job at Gap or Sizzler will get you. Plus, you might need your summer-job money for a "back to school" wardrobe or a new laptop.
Of all aid types, fellowships tend to be the most lucrative. Giving fellowship applications some extra attention can really pay off. Start with the basics: check out the fellowship information below.
WhoFellowships are generally reserved for graduate students, but there are also some undergraduate fellowships out there. Because very few students are able to dig out sufficient funds for time-consuming doctorate degrees (some programs take 7 or 8 years to complete), many fellowships are directed at students pursuing a doctorate degree.
WhatFellowships are merit-based scholarships. Common fellowship requirements include graduate research work, participation in time-consuming projects, and exceptional merit proofs. Some schools also categorize undergraduate teaching opportunities as fellowships, but most refer to these as assistantships.
WhenA.S.A.P. Many fellowships are contingent upon a school’s available resources, so you should apply as soon as you receive your acceptance letter. Because fellowships have different requirements, check the financial aid section of the school ’s website to see what’s available and whether you’re eligible for it. Some fellowships are reserved for incoming graduate students, some for students with a master’s diploma, and some for students who can convince colleges they can heal all of the world’s ills. There are no rules so read up on fellowship opportunities. Whatever the requirements, be ready before the others are.
WhereScholarships.com is a great place to begin your search. Fill out a profile to see if you are eligible for any of the fellowships listed on our website. Our database is filled with myriad scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities. You should also browse through the financial aid websites of prospective colleges. I have yet to see a college that doesn’t offer graduate aid.
WhyOk. This is one is self-explanatory. Financial need is often the greatest obstacle standing between students and their goals. According to the American Council on Education, the average debt acquired by students graduating with a master’s is $26,119 for those at public institutions, $29,000 for those at private institutions. For those graduating with a professional degree, the number rises to $63,500 at public institutions, $71,317 at private institutions. Students who land lucrative positions after college may be able to repay these student loans, but most are in serious need of aid. Fellowships are a great opportunity for graduate students in need of financial help, and there are plenty of them (both students and fellowships). Get a head-start on the competition and apply for fellowships as soon as you can. It could save you thousands in loan payments in the not-so-distant future.