Please Note: I do not work for the financial aid office at Indiana
University. Do not send me requests for financial aid information or
This is just some friendly advice from one graduate
student who has done many funding searches over the past few years.
Looking for External Funding
While most people know why they might want external funding, it's
often harder to figure out where to apply. This page has been set up
to give you a set of pointers as to how to conduct an external funding
search at IU, along with some pearls of wisdom from those who have
conducted such searches before. I don't claim that this list is
- Jennifer Fleisher is the department staff member in charge of funding
materials; her desk is across from the main office in Lindley. She
has a large collection of
applications and information on various programs. Start your funding
search by talking to her and looking at her lists of
- Section in the graduate handbook on financial assistance for graduate students, including a listing of some programs.
Miscellaneous Pearls of Wisdom
- Start Early. Application deadlines range from early November to
early February (in particular, the NSF fellowship application
deadline is early in November). Starting to think about applications
at the end of fall semester is probably too late for funding for the
next academic year.
- First year students can use references from their last
institution, though you should try to get at least one current
reference (the NSF requires two of your references to be from your
current institution). It's not impossible to file applications early
in your first year though --- talk to graduate advisors and your
professors and see if anyone would be willing to write letters for you.
- Some programs, like the NSF fellowship program, make the
reviewers' comments available to you sometime in the spring. These
comments can give you good feedback for filing future applications.
They don't advertise that these comments are available, but you can
get them for the asking; other programs might have similar options.
- IU has a program by which students who apply for the NSF
fellowship during their first year and get honorable mention (but no
fellowship) receive additional research support during the summer
after the first year. The amount of award was $1500 in 1992. This
alone makes the application process worthwhile.
- Pay attention to the restrictions on programs. The
NSF program puts a limit on the number of credit hours you can have
finished before application. This becomes important if you are
planning to put off applying for fellowships for a year.
- Get feedback on your application essays from professors and other
students. Look at guides for proposal writing if you're new to
writing fellowship applications or ask Shelly to show you some of the
successful proposals submitted by other students.
- Shelly can help you get all your materials together and get the
application sent out (including typing and formatting), but you have
to give her sufficient warning. Plan to have your application to her
at least a week before the application deadline. Some programs
require signatures of university officials that cannot be obtained on
really short notice. If your application requires this, talk to
Shelly well in advance to work out an application timetable.
- Make copies of your application and hold onto them. If you apply
for more programs in later years, it can be helpful to have the old
copies around. The department also likes to have copies for your
- Always keep copies of official transcripts from prior schools on
hand (one per school should be plenty). Doing this makes it a lot
easier for you to submit applications for programs that you hear about
at the last minute. IU does transcripts-while-you-wait, but plan on
out-of-the-area schools needing a week to receive and fill a transcript
- Keep trying. Just because you don't get any awards one year
doesn't mean you can't get them in later years. You become much more
attractive as an applicant as you get publications, research focus,
and better recommendation letters; your writing style will also
improve over the years. I personally applied for two
programs a year for four years before getting an offer, but the
persistance was well worth it and I learned a lot in the process about
writing good applications.