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Strategies to Securing Funding for Graduate School

One of the major concerns prospective students worldwide face is securing funding for their higher education studies. This concern is valid as the cost of graduate school is by no means cheap, especially for students who do not have the option of applying for loans! With limited funding available as opposed to the high demand of students' scholarships, not everyone is lucky to be awarded significant funding to pursue their education. In this post, we highlight 5 strategies to utilize if seeking funding for your graduate education.

1. Apply early

If your goal is to attend graduate school on some sort of external funding or scholarship, then applying early cannot be over - emphasized. Ideally, you should gather your application packet at least a year before your intent date to enroll just so you do not feel rushed to submit a well - prepared application. It is important to note that most institutions and organizations in the US, UK, and Canada tend to post on their funding opportunities at least 6 months or more before the academic start date. For example, most of the significant MBA Scholarships in the USA often tend to have their scholarship deadlines due the year before the intended start date. Additionally, some schools and organizations require that the applicant gets an offer of admission before they are giving the opportunity to be considered for a scholarship, hence, you can never go wrong with applying early.

2. Be intentional about which schools you apply to

Don't just apply early, but if you are a prospective international student, be particularly intentional about which schools you are applying to, especially if your goal is to secure some sort of scholarship. There are different types of schools; some of which are well - noted for providing substantial funding for international students e.g. Illinois State University, and there are also other schools which have a low budget for international students. It is important to be self - aware of your finances and what you can contribute towards your education and let that knowledge guide you in determining which schools you apply to. Also, there are organizations like the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which funds the graduate education of qualified international students from Africa, so another alternative would be to look into schools with funding from outside organizations first and then, apply to some of these schools with the hopes of getting a scholarship.

3. Apply to more than one school

'Do not put all your eggs in one basket', and by now, you should know the reason behind this statement. No matter how good of a student you are, you need to be aware that there are thousands of equally good students out there sending out applications to the same institutions. With limited resources available, the competition among students for scholarships is fierce. By limiting yourself to only one school, you stand the risk of either being rejected an admission offer or being accepted, but with no substantial funding. Applying to more than one school gives you the opportunity to choose the best alternative when it comes to funding and in some cases, the liberty to confidently negotiate your funding offer.

4. Apply to as many external scholarship opportunities as possible

When it comes to funding for graduate school, you need to cast your net wide open! Aside of institutional funding, private organizations, government agencies and private individuals are amongst the many donors of educational scholarships. The Gates Cambridge Trust, the Mastercard Foundation and the Rhodes Trust are some of the organizations which have partnered with higher education institutions to award scholarships to students. Due to the fact that the release date for some of these scholarships tend to be around the same period, it is better to apply to as many scholarships as possible since you do not know which one may turn out in your favor. Is there really anything like too much money?

5. Apply for an assistantship

Some schools offer various assistantship opportunities to graduate students. Depending on the school, there could be research, teaching or administrative assistantship opportunities available, which usually tends to waive the tuition (i.e. full or partial) for students who are offered these positions. These assistantship positions usually require that the student has attained some experience for the position listed. Usually, you need to receive an offer from the school before you can even apply for an assistantship, hence, the need to apply early!

It's important to realize that you can follow all these strategies, but would still not get the funding needed to pursue your graduate education. Sometimes, your undergraduate GPA or not meeting certain institutional requirements could be inhibiting your ability to securing funding. As such, it is imperative that you build your skills and experience in the field in the program you intend on applying to, especially where your undergraduate performance was abysmal before seeking significant financial support for graduate school.

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