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If you are just beginning your funding search, here are some answers to some basic questions:

How do students pay for graduate school?

Most students pay for graduate school through a combination of the following ten avenues.  

Basic Funding Research

Databases and Information for Graduate Students

If you are just beginning your search for funding, begin with the following databases and websites:

After receiving an acceptance to graduate school, one of the first issues on students’ mind is how to find funding. Most students return to this issue several times throughout their graduate education. Here are a few strategies to find sources of funding:

  1. Talk to People

In our office, we find that many students feel lost when thinking about fellowships and appreciate an explanation of the basic landscape of funding. Georgia Ehlers, director of the Graduate College Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement, and I have put together a few of the basics about fellowships which might be helpful as you make plans for the new year.

What is a fellowship?

Let me tell you a story.

About a year ago, I received an email from a student in linguistics asking if I would review a draft of her proposal for the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research. This was the first time I had heard of the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research, or at least, the first time it caught my attention. With a little investigation, I found that the American Philosophical Society supports the fund and that several UA graduate students in geology have previously received the award.

You may have heard of a student who decided to apply to a fellowship two weeks before it was due, dashed an application together, and received the fellowship.

Sometimes this happens. But not often. Although it makes for a less interesting story, most successful applicants plan well ahead of the deadline, work strategically towards making themselves good candidates, and then systematically apply.

As summer approaches, consider putting together a plan for fellowships to which you might apply. Below you will find a general guide to help you think about process.  

The most frequently asked question I receive from graduate students is how to find funding. Finding funding is like finding a job; it takes a mixture of work, perseverance, luck, and connections. 

We have some basic information on funding graduate school on our website ( Further, here are a few strategies to keep in mind in your search for graduate funding:

1. Talk to People

With approximately 1,600 annual awards, the Student Fulbright is one of the largest and best recognized national fellowships. I often talk with graduate students who think that they might be interested in a Fulbright but are not sure about the details. If you are one of those people, read below for insight from Emily Kotay, the Scholarship Advisor in the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (ONCS).

Finding funding is a challenge for any graduate student. But, because they are not eligible for many of the opportunities that are available to domestic students, international students studying in the United States have a particularly big challenge. Here are a few tips and resources to help international students in their search.

  • Consider starting your search for funding in your country of citizenship. Some of the best funding can come from a student’s home country.

One of the lovely, and potentially challenging, elements of academia is summer. While summer often gives graduate students a change of pace, funding it can be tricky.

Many of you already have your plans solidified. For the rest of you, consider this a tap on the shoulder to begin, or to continue, thinking about how you will finance your summer.

Here are a few suggestions:


Money for graduate fellowships generally comes from the following sources:

As you search for funding, large fellowships of thousands of dollars will probably catch your attention. You should apply to the big fellowships, but also consider applying for smaller ones. Aiming for the small potatoes is worth your time for three reasons:

  1. The more you apply for fellowships, the better you will get at it.

  2. Smaller fellowships are usually less competitive so you are more likely to receive the award.

Finding funding is like finding a job. There is no one way to go about it and talking to people is usually your best strategy. However, an additional excellent strategy for finding funding is to sign up for funding alerts.

Yes, it is true, you can receive email alerts specially designed to fit your research interests! You can also receive funding alerts from organization that you think might be interested in your research.

You have done a lot in the past three weeks. Unless you are one of the lucky few, this has probably included managing some financial uncertainties. Hopefully you have most of your questions answered by now. But the University of Arizona is a big place and you might find that you have to run around in circles a bit before getting issues resolved.

Here are few suggestions for students trying to navigate the financial milieu of graduate school.