Most graduate students fund their years of graduate study not through a single funding source but through multiple sources. Listed below are the most common sources of funding. For additional details, visit “Grad School 101 - Funding Graduate School.”
Assistantships entail performing work in exchange for a stipend. Assistantships are provided in terms of percentage of full-time effort (“FTE”), and they range from 1% to 100% FTE, with the most common being 50% FTE (20 hours/week). Tuition waivers are generally provided for assistantships that are between 25% and 67% FTE.
There are four kinds of assistantships:
- Teaching Assistantships - TAs provide instruction, either by teaching their own classes or helping professors teach classes.
- Research Assistantships - RAs help professors conduct research and are usually paid through a professor’s grant.
- Graduate Assistantships - GAs usually perform administrative duties to assist a particular department or administrative office.
- Pre-Professional Graduate Assistantships - PGA duties allow students to gain experience closely related to their field of study and career preparation.
Most assistanthips are awarded through your home department. The Assistantship Clearninghouse lists some additional assistantship opportunities.
Fellowships are competitively awarded funding packages that officially do not require work in exchange for a stipend. Instead, fellowships generally allow the awardee the freedom to devote 100% of his/her time to research and coursework. Fellowships usually pay a generous stipend, and if that stipend is $10,000 or greater, the awardee may become eligible for a tuition waiver (waivers are not available to students in cost-recovery and self-supporting programs).
Fellowships are divided into two categories, depending on their source:
- Internal fellowships are those that are provided by a unit on campus such as a department, a research center, the Graduate College, etc. Some units advertise their fellowships on their websites. For details, students should contact the units directly.
- External fellowships are provided by a source external to campus, e.g., a private foundation, corporation, governmental agency, professional association, etc. External fellowships usually carry significant prestige, and the Graduate College houses an office dedicated to helping Illinois graduate students compete for these awards. Visit the Office of External Fellowships webpages for details. One key resource offered by this office is the Fellowship Finder database, one of the nation’s most comprehensive and current list of fellowships and grants for graduate students.
Some students may wish to work in more traditional positions either on campus or off campus. See the listing of campus job boards.
Private loans and unsubsidized federal loans are available to graduate students. Students pursuing loans should consult with the Office of Student Financial Aid.