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Funding Factors to Consider

Sources of Funding

Graduate Programs

The graduate program is the most important source of funding for the majority of graduate students. Types of assistance and availability of funding vary by graduate program. Nominations for program fellowships, assistantships, and awards are made through the graduate program.

When you are admitted to U-M, your program may offer you a funding package (this is more common for doctoral students than for master’s students). Funding packages may include fellowships, teaching (GSI) appointments, or other department-level funding. In addition to funds allocated to graduate programs by Rackham, programs may have their own pool of funds from U-M, federal research grants, and other sources to be used specifically for their students.

GSI/GSSA/GSRA Positions

Depending on the appointment fraction, Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) receive tuition grants under the terms of the University’s collective bargaining agreement with the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO). Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs) with appropriate appointments receive tuition grants according to University policy.

If you are enrolled in a doctoral program, GSI or GSRA positions may be part of your funding package and your department will contact you about applying for a position. Otherwise, interested graduate students seeking possible GSI/GSSA appointments should visit U-M Careers to view current openings. For GSRA positions, contact departments related to your research interests or degree and ask your advisors if they are aware of any available positions.

Federal Aid for U.S. Citizens

If you haven’t already done so, apply for Federal Financial Aid online by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Graduate students who apply will be considered for Federal Loan and Work-Study programs. For more information, visit the U-M Office of Financial Aid.

Rackham Administered Funding

Rackham distributes more than $50 million in funding to graduate students each year. About three-fourths of that is allocated to graduate programs to support students’ funding packages. The other roughly 25 percent is distributed through Rackham administered fellowship and grant competitions. Students can apply directly for some of these awards, while others require a nomination from your graduate program. Visit the Rackham funding page for information and application deadlines.

External Grants and Fellowships

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek funding from sources external to the University of Michigan. Rackham partners with graduate programs to provide cost sharing to ensure that students who compete successfully for selected external awards are better off than would be the case without the external award. Several specific fellowships are included in the funding resources for Master’s and Doctoral students, but the list of additional resources for finding funding provides links to search tools for external fellowships.

U-M Campus Units

There are a number of units on campus that either provide funding directly to students or may be able to connect you to additional funding opportunities. Some specific grants and fellowships are included in the funding resources for Master’s and Doctoral students, while information about relevant units can be found in the list of additional resources for finding funding.

Before Accepting Funding

  • Do you completely understand what it is you will be receiving?
  • Does it provide a living stipend?
  • Does it cover tuition?
  • Does it require someone else to pay your tuition?
  • What are the stipulations to accept it?
  • Will accepting it impact other funds you have already received?

Supplemental Funds

  • Are there funds available for extras such as travel, conferences, and research expenses from your fellowship?
  • Is it possible to accept other supplemental funds from outside sources?

Working Stipulations

  • Are you required to work for your fellowship?
  • Are you able to accept employment while on the fellowship?
  • Would working help or hinder your progress and skills?
  • Is there a limit (hours per week or dollar amounts) that you can accept while on the fellowship?

Combining Awards

  • Is it possible to accept more than one at a time?
  • Is there a limit?
  • What about the timing of various grants?
  • Can you defer or overlap fellowships?

Benefits

Does it come with health and/or dental insurance or other benefits?

After Accepting Funding

Your Funding Source

  • Be sure they know how to contact you.
  • Have you registered correctly in order for the fellowship to be released?
  • Have you set up a direct deposit through the Payroll Office?
  • Are you sure how the funds can be used?
  • Is it a stipend and/or tuition?
  • Will it be applied directly?
  • Does it need to be renewed each year or term?

Graduate Coordinator or Student Services Assistant

If your fellowship is handled through your department this person will most likely be your greatest source of information.

Financial Aid Office

Some sponsored fellowships are distributed through the Office of Financial Aid. If you have applied for loans, your fellowship will affect them.

Health and Dental Insurance and Other Benefits

  • If your fellowship comes with health insurance, please be aware that it is not automatic.
  • You will either need to have your funding source sign you up as a re-enrollee or you will need to fill out an application if you have not had it in the past. You will need to make benefit selections.
  • Depending on your selections there may be a cost to you.

Last updated: June 6, 2018 - 1:35pm