Funding Your Education
You have decided that Sarah Lawrence College and one of its graduate programs is the perfect fit for you. You have also discovered that a graduate education may incur some debt. Now you want to figure out how to gain access to scholarships, fellowships, internships, and grants to help you get through school with as few loans as possible. This document will introduce you to the world of personal fundraising and help you begin researching opportunities, determine your eligibility and prepare for writing your application.
Who gives money for graduate education?
Donors can be divided generally into two groups: Individuals and Organizations. The information presented here addresses organizations.
Generally, support to individuals pursuing graduate degrees is given in the form of grants, fellowships, residencies (sometimes), low-interest loans, and internships. The following guide will focus on researching all of these, with a focus on grants and fellowships.
The types of organizations you will be researching are non-profits such as foundations and civic, fraternal, religious, political, educational, and social welfare organizations. In addition, some corporations give money to individuals for education.
You in Relationship to Funding Organizations
Before identifying potential funders it is important to think about who you are so you will recognize a good match as you sort through the various lists and databases identified later in this document.
Your Personal Profile
Your fundraising profile is part autobiography, part resume, part genealogical heritage. Funders are interested in where you are from, where your parents are/were from or where they worked. Your ethnic and religious background may also be relevant as well as your family’s membership in local organizations or unions. The Foundation Center provides a useful resource for developing your personal profile. Please go to Foundation Center Online Training Courses to enroll in the free online course Finding Foundation Support For Your Education. If you have time for nothing else, please fill out the personal profile sheets in the third module: Use Your Unique Profiles to Find Funding for Your Education.
The Personal Profile
The information from the personal profile sheets are your leads to the types of funders you should be investigating. Consider the following example:
John Smith needs about $20,000 per year for his graduate education. On his profile sheets he identified as a bi-racial African-American and German-American, a multi-generational native of Akron, OH, an alumnus of Firestone High School where he was a member of the cross-country and track teams, a National Honors Society member, and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. His interests include biochemistry, critical languages such as Chinese and Arabic, jazz bass, and long-distance running. He lived in Virginia for his undergrad years.
- Fastweb, through its rather tedious registration process, will create an online profile for you and send internship, job, and scholarship announcements that appear to match your profile.
- Guidestar also creates an online profile which you can use to research organizations that might consider a funding request from you. Guidestar is not specifically focused on scholarships but rather on helping individuals research non-profits. Students have found that registering for Guidestar Basic helps in learning to navigate their system.
Next, John Smith searched for civic organizations, alumnae/i associations, and local foundations where he might apply for grants or fellowships. He also searched the Michigan State University Grants for Individuals Web site. Finally, he signed up for a one month membership to the Foundation Center’s database Grants to Individuals On-Line. For less than $10 per month he searched the offerings of over 600 private foundations.
The above links and steps are just one approach to identifying a list of possible funding matches.
After you have a few matches, e-mail or write for the paperwork the organization or foundation requires. You should also plan to attend a Sarah Lawrence College Graduate Studies-sponsored Funding Your Graduate Education event.
For more information or assistance, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.