Tips on Grant Searches

Who is Eligible?

Graduate students at all levels of study are eligible for funding. This includes beginning master's candidates through students at the dissertation-level Ph.D. When you first find a funding opportunity, read the eligibility criteria first. Some grants limit to a very specific demographics, disciplines, type of research, and/or activity location. Check the eligibility to see if you fit the funder's requirements.


Next, note the deadline. Failure to meet the deadline date is the most common reason that an application fails. Always check directly with the sponsor to confirm the deadline date and to find out if application forms must be requested within a certain time frame. If you've missed the deadline for this round, note the deadline for next year in your calendar planner.

Plan Ahead

Start thinking about the grant search now! Summer is often a good time to begin a grants search, without the pressure of full-time class schedules and imminent grant deadlines. Most grant deadlines fall between November and March; planning ahead allows you to gather needed information over the summer and get prepared for the rush of deadlines in October and November. For large grants and fellowships, the average turnaround time (from application to acceptance) runs six to nine months.

Trading Up

Not all students are immediately ready or able to compete for large awards. There are many small grants which are ideal springboards for "trading up" to larger awards later on, particularly for new graduate students. Trading up can help you both in the long and short run. Many sponsors offer awards in the $250-$1000 range, often in the form of essay prizes, research supplements, or tuition assistance. Although small grants will not pay your tuition and living expenses or finance your research project, they are a good investment in your future nonetheless -- sponsors look favorably on past grant winners, even winners of relatively small awards. When you apply for a $10,000 dissertation-level award, your track record will work in your favor. The sponsor will see that you have been through a competitive review process and have come out on top.