The funding calendar of external grants and fellowships to support graduate study has a distinct rhythm that we at GradFund know well: Small grants, scholarships, and pre-dissertation research grants have a concentration of deadlines during the early spring semester, but are broadly distributed throughout the academic year. Awards with large financial payoffs, such as early graduate study fellowships, dissertation research grants and fellowships, and completion fellowships tend to concentrate their deadlines in October-December. Since the application-writing process for these large awards can easily take 6-9 months, now is the time to plan for the fall deadline season!
To determine whether now is a key moment in your graduate program to apply for a large fellowship (to provide a stipend or tuition) or grant (to cover dissertation research expenses), first consider the amount of time involved in receiving the award. Most funders take an additional 6-9 months to review the application after it has been submitted, and may wait a few additional months before disbursing funds. Essentially, if you will need external support in the fall semester of 2014 or the spring semester of 2015, you will want to apply during the fall semester of 2013.
However, keep in mind that especially fellowships are not always available exactly at the moment when individual graduate students need them: Many graduate programs provide a few years of TA, GA, or fellowship support early in students’ graduate careers, but expect them to find other ways of supporting themselves in the final years of research and writing. This does not align well with external fellowship funders, who rarely accept applications from students 2-3 years into their graduate programs. Thus, if there is a chance that you may need fellowship support at any time during your graduate program, we encourage you to plan to apply for an early graduate study fellowship during the fall semester of your first and second years in graduate school!
There are many ways that GradFund can help Rutgers graduate students plan and prepare now for the fall application season. Search the Pivot Database to find potential awards, and schedule a Pre-Application Meeting to discuss your options. Or, apply to participate in our Summer 2013 GradFund Graduate Funding Mentoring Program (GFMP), a fully-online structure to provide feedback on developing applications. Remember, the keys to success are to start early, plan ahead, and take advantage of GradFund’s services!