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question about funding - mature student


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After 20 years of adjunct teaching, researching and publishing with only a Master's degree in my field, I have decided to go for my PhD. Happily, I was admitted to the PhD program of my choice, with guaranteed funding for years 2,3,4. This includes a yearly tuition waiver and $20,000 TA-ship, but NO funding for year 1.

I am so grateful for the funding that was offered, but I was naive enough to think that a PhD would be fully funded! The University is 2 hours from my house, so my plan was to relocate (which requires selling my house and moving my family), but now with no funding for the first year, my plan must change. Should I ask for a deferral? (This would be so frustrating bc I just want to dig in!) Or, should I ask my advisor for a part-time arrangement and commute 2-3x/week? (This would be grueling, but save me a ton of money and hassle). I could then relocate for year 2 and be full-time.

How common is it for a program to grant part-time status to a PhD, even if self-funded? I am afraid if I ask for this part-time accommodation, the committee might just move to the next student on the waitlist. Also, what is the dynamic in a department between the funded and self-funded grad students?  Last, does this mean that the department is "trying me out" for the first year because their confidence in my success is low?

Thank you for your input! 

 

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I am not sure if you made a decision yet or have more information, but I thought I would follow up.

I would suggest you find out more about why the program has no funding for your first year. Talk to the director or your POI and politely ask for more information about why. I think important to the decision is determining why they aren't giving you funding.

I don't think it necessarily means they have less confidence in your success, but I would question if they do not have money to fund you this year, how can they be sure they have money for you next year? If it is an issue of funding this particular year (budget issues), then maybe ask if you were to apply next year and be admitted, would the award more likely have funding for the first year? If that is the case, you may consider pushing back your timeline a year. 

If it is typical of that particular program to not fund 1st year students and they are not funding other 1st year students, then I would be more open to thinking of how to make the first year work. They may or may not allow you to do part-time. Maybe you can talk to current students in the program to ask what students typically do in the first year of the program if they are not funded. 

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You might not really have to move--you might be able to get all of your classes/responsibilities on 2-3 days per week. I completed an MA that way. My commute was only 1 hour, not 2, but I think 2 would have been doable. Get some books to listen to in the car so that your driving time isn't totally wasted (long drives can be relaxing if the traffic isn't terrible). 

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Did they mention anything about finding work on campus that provides tuition remission? I know this can be an option at some schools. I would start looking into job opportunities at the school that might provide this, or even a TA ship in another department since you have experience teaching.

On 2/19/2019 at 3:52 PM, bonegirl said:

After 20 years of adjunct teaching, researching and publishing with only a Master's degree in my field, I have decided to go for my PhD. Happily, I was admitted to the PhD program of my choice, with guaranteed funding for years 2,3,4. This includes a yearly tuition waiver and $20,000 TA-ship, but NO funding for year 1.

I am so grateful for the funding that was offered, but I was naive enough to think that a PhD would be fully funded! The University is 2 hours from my house, so my plan was to relocate (which requires selling my house and moving my family), but now with no funding for the first year, my plan must change. Should I ask for a deferral? (This would be so frustrating bc I just want to dig in!) Or, should I ask my advisor for a part-time arrangement and commute 2-3x/week? (This would be grueling, but save me a ton of money and hassle). I could then relocate for year 2 and be full-time.

How common is it for a program to grant part-time status to a PhD, even if self-funded? I am afraid if I ask for this part-time accommodation, the committee might just move to the next student on the waitlist. Also, what is the dynamic in a department between the funded and self-funded grad students?  Last, does this mean that the department is "trying me out" for the first year because their confidence in my success is low?

Thank you for your input! 

 

 

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