How to Search for Funding Effectively

One of the most common questions that fellowship advisors hear from students is “What can I apply for?” Even with the web resources available for searching, it can sometimes be challenging to find awards that are a great fit with a student’s research area and stage of study. Today, we will focus on using both the GradFund Database and Pivot effectively. Before you begin searching, take some time to learn about awards, so that you know the kinds of awards you would like to apply to.

GradFund Database

The GradFund Database search is open to the public and is maintained by the GradFund Office. This database holds nearly 4000 award records, and range from early graduate awards through postdoctoral awards. The database offers two different search modes: funder search and award search. In a funder search, you can look at all of the awards offered by a particular funder. This method is good if you know a particular funder, and want to learn all of the awards they have. You can also look up all the funders with a particular descriptor (e.g. health) or location (e.g. New Jersey). We also offer an award search, which is more like the traditional keyword search. Here, you can look for awards by keywords; they can include research area, degree program, type of award, or stage of study. Try combining your research area or degree program with type of award or stage of study, and see what’s available for you! The results can also be filtered by citizenship.


Pivot is a service that Rutgers University subscribes to, so you can only connect if you are on-campus or sign up with a Rutgers email address. With Pivot, you can search for student, faculty, and institution awards. Their advanced search has many options, so you can narrow down the activity location, citizenship, and funding type based on what you are looking for in addition to keywords. For graduate students, make sure “Graduate Student” is checked off under the requirements tab. Once you run your search, you can save the search terms and even track awards. There are also curated lists of awards based on degree program or stage of study.

For most students, searching for funding that fits his or her needs takes some time; so, don’t be discouraged if your first search doesn’t return a lot of options. With these tools and tips, we hope that you can now more effectively search for awards to support your graduate work.

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