How to Choose the Best Awards for You

Do you know what fellowship or grants you will apply for this year and in the coming years? In this blog post we will look at how to choose what awards to apply for and when.

If you are eligible for multiple awards and you are trying to decide what to apply for, prioritize your efforts based on your current and future funding needs. Do you need to fund your living expenses or do you primarily need money to cover research costs, or both? As you progress toward the completion of your graduate degree, it is likely that your funding needs will change and, likewise, selecting the right award to apply for will also evolve.

To a certain extent, what you are able to apply for is shaped by your timeline to completion. Grants and fellowships often specify the stage of graduate study that students are eligible to apply. There are, for example pre-doctoral fellowships including the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the Ford Predoctoral Dissertation Fellowship which are intended to fund students at the beginning stages of doctoral study. As you approach graduation, there are dissertation completion fellowships that provide students with a year of assistance while you finish writing your dissertation. In addition to graduate fellowships there are research grants that assist students at multiple stages of graduate study. While a fellowship funds your living expenses, a grant covers the research costs associated with carrying out the research. Grants often fund travel to a site, research equipment, transcription, and paying participants. Choosing the best award to apply for depends, in part, on your current stage of study and how it lines up with the requirements of the funding opportunity.

In addition to considering your funding needs and eligibility, it is important to focus your grant and fellowship application efforts on awards whose mission aligns with your research and scholarly profile. That is, once you have utilized GradFund’s resources to generate possible funding opportunities, prioritize the awards you will apply for based on the match between your career trajectory/research goals and the objectives of the funding organization. Consider setting up a pre-application meeting with GradFund where a fellowship advisor will work one-on-one with you to identify external funding opportunities and map a strategy for applying to them.

About Ben Arenger

I am a postdoctoral associate in fellowship advising at the Graduate School-New Brunswick, Rutgers University.
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