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Listing personal savings as financial support?


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Hey everyone, 


I am fortunate enough to have a good amount of money in my educational savings plan. It amounts to around $70k/year spread out over 5 years.


Several applications ask for sources of funding that would not be coming from the program, presumably things like NIH or NSF grants.  


Should I list my personal savings in my applications under "Financial Support"? Is there a negative connotation to this? Obviously, programs welcome applicants who would minimize financial risk and burden on the departments, but this is typically in the case of grants. I do not know how they would perceive personal savings, perhaps as a not-so-subtle way of "buying one's way" into a program?


Does anyone have advice on this situation?

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Wow, you are quite fortunate to have that amount of money saved up to support you during your education!


I don't know if it is true for all universities, programs, etc., but I was recently checking out the wildlife ecology program at the University of Florida after seeing an ad for a PhD position. Under their funding section of the website, they specifically mention that self-funded students (i.e. money from parents, savings, etc.) are very undesirable. They don't actually list any reasons, but do say that there are a variety of reasons for it. So I would say that yes, being self-funded could be viewed negatively.


This could just be something about the culture of that particular program... they don't seem to like the idea of grad students having more money than what is necessary for the very basic necessities. Their stipends are quite low (and I can't imagine being able to pay for more than just an apartment, food, and clothes with it... I think something like a car payment would be impossible on top of that) and they justify it by saying that the education students receive is so good that they should be happy to be even getting that much money.


However, I think I can understand why a self-funded student would be somewhat undesirable. As you said, it could be considered buying your way in. There is only so much funding to go around, so someone with their own funding can sort of bypass the funding restrictions and get a spot in the program that otherwise wouldn't be there. Plus, funding from places like the NSF, NIH, etc. make schools look good, while a self-funded project doesn't really say anything about the caliber of the school. A self-funded student also doesn't have to deal with timelines in the same way, either. In theory, a self-funded student could take 10 years to accomplish what a fellowship-supported student could do in 4, simply because they don't have the pressure on them of money and time running out. Schools definitely don't like unproductive students, so the threat of a self-funded student slacking off may also play a role. I'm sure there are other reasons, too.

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I wonder how much self-funding comes in to play for Master seeking applicants.

Why would applications ask the question "If you are not offered a financial award, do you plan to enroll if offered admission?" then, if they think self funding is not wanted? I still wouldn't mention your personal savings because you could also be shooting yourself in the foot, and negatively impacting your chance at getting funding right off the bat.


Anyways for a self-funded PHd topic, I think the it depends mostly on the university if they always support their PHd canidates. Have you guys looked at the Data-Based Assesstment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the US? One of the data shown is about Percent of first year students with full finiancial support. Now the data is from 2005 but it is quite interesting. You can download the excel file free at the following below


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I would only mention it if they have a place in the application for such information (and the place to list fellowships and external funding is not such a place). For example, the Berkeley application has a spot to enter things like personal savings, family support, cost of relocation, etc.. I believe this information is used for determining need-based funding. Another example would be that the University of Washington application (at least for Math) has a place to indicate your need for funding: (1) Will not attend without, (2) Preferred, or (3) Not required.

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  • 2 weeks later...

IMO that's an odd way they ask the question. We ask if they intend to apply for an assistantship. However, we just generally assume they need financial support.


Not sure how other departments do it but we make admission decisions first and funding decisions later. Self-funding doesn't play into the admissions decision. They either think you can succeed or you can't.


If you were applying to my program I'd tell you to leave it off. Since you're not, I'd ask the grad secretary what they consider to be financial support.  

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