Jump to content

Multiple fellowship/scholarships


Recommended Posts

I will be starting a doctoral program in the fall and have been awarded a fellowship through the university's graduate college. The fellowship comes with a tuition waiver (which covers up to 9 credits in the fall and spring and 6 credits in the summer) and also a stipend that is larger than any of the assistantships offered through the department. So, my question is: In this situation, is it common practice or acceptable to apply to other fellowships or scholarships? Perhaps, I would not apply to another fellowship, though, I would prefer to take an additional course in the fall, which would not be covered under the fellowship that I have been awarded. While I would like to avoid taking on any new loans, many - if not all - of these awards require letters of recommendation and the last thing I want is to seem selfish and stingy by applying to funding that may seem like much more than I need.  

Edited by HigherEdPsych
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The short answer is yes, most students should always apply to any **major** scholarships and fellowships that they are eligible for. However, keep in mind that it is likely that with every new fellowship you earn, your funding package will be recalculated. 

For example, when starting my Masters, I was initially accepted with the standard department funding package (in March), which is a full load of TA work, some RA pay and a department fellowship, total was 24k (no tuition waiver in Canada, but tuition is about 6.5k back then). Then, I got a national fellowship (applied in the previous Fall, awarded in April), which was valued at 17.5k, so my funding package changed. My RA offer was removed and my TA load was cut in half. My total pay would be 30k though, so I still ended up with a better package than without the national fellowship. Finally, in May, the department asked me to apply to a University-level fellowship and I was awarded that fellowship in August. The value was $10k, but ultimately, my new funding package was $36k (no tuition waiver still, so take-home pay was about $30k). The adjustment was that all department fellowship monies were removed and then replaced with the University fellowship. So, in the end, my income for my first year came from a national fellowship, a department fellowship, and a half-load of TA work.

With my PhD, the policies were a little different. My department had a policy to pay every student the same amount, no matter if they bring in money or not. In 2012, when I started, this number was $29k + tuition waiver. In my last year, this number has now increased to $33k + tuition waiver, to be closer to the national fellowship numbers. When I started, I also had a 3 year fellowship from Canada, valued at 20k USD. This did not change my stipend at all, my school just removed $20k from their offer so I got the same as anyone else. Later, I got a fellowship from the US government and that was valued at 24k USD. Again, my take-home pay remained the same. This year, the same fellowship I had will increase in value, from $24k towards stipend to $35k towards stipend, but that's only an upper limit. Winners of this fellowship will still only get $33k stipend. The only way a student here will get a stipend above the prevailing rate is to win a fellowship that specifically instructs the school to pay the student a stipend above $33k or provides a budget that is meant to go directly to the student above $33k. For example, the most common way is to win the NSF GRFP, which is currently valued at $34k for direct support, so NSF GRFP award winners get an extra $1000 compared to others in my department. Sometimes people have nice fellowships from their home country that pay above this value though, but that's rare.

Even in these above cases, where winning more fellowships doesn't make a big change in your stipend, it's a good idea to try to get the major fellowships. There is prestige involved. Lowering your costs to your advisor/department may have fringe benefits. In my case, I was able to ask for a needs-based award in order to pay for some medical costs in my first year that the department said they were willing to help since I cost them less than others. And, my advisor was willing to send me to more conferences / spend more on my computer/travel because they were spending less on my salary. Awards sometimes also come with non-salary benefits. One of mine had a travel budget I could use, which was helpful to pay for myself to visit places to give talks and help my postdoc applications. Others come with societal/network benefits that you can tap into. 

So, the longer answer is yes, you should apply to more fellowships if you feel that the additional effort to apply is worth it. This is a cost-benefit analysis that needs to be tailored to you, your needs, and your program/field norms. For me, I would apply to 1) university/local fellowships that don't require a ton of effort (e.g. a CV, a research statement, a letter from your advisor), or 2) national-level fellowship that carry a lot of value for my field (at least $10,000) and some sort of prestige/side-benefits etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use