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Thread: Grad school money: how?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Grad school money: how?

    So I'm a neophyte to financial aid (I was on scholarship in undergrad). I know some schools send you financial aid info when they send your acceptance package, but others (UT Austin for instance) admitted me without a word about financial aid.

    Is it considered inappropriate for me to contact them and try to negotiate/secure financial aid?

    Should I contact individual professors who I'd like to work with and ask if they have any room for a GA or RA? or is it better to contact the admissions folks I've heard from and follow those channels?

    All relevant stories anecdotes and advice are welcome!

    EDIT: I've already completed my FAFSA.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Good questions.

    I've been generally of the mind that I'll wait for the schools to send me all the acceptance materials since I figured they would include info about all this stuff but then I wondered if I shouldn't be more proactive about it.

    From what I understand, UT SOA focuses any of its aid on continuing students so you'd be eligible once you've completed one semester. They don't usually give anything to you your first year. But hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

  3. #3
    I'm looking forward to hearing responses from this thread as well.

    I'm a bit concerned that I'll be having trouble finding sufficient funding considering the fact that I, first of all, have a low GPA (2.8) and thus am disqualified from many scholarships, grants, etc. right off of the bat, and 2) we're in a credit crunch / recession.

    I'll do just about anything to get funding for grad. I've even considered the military (albeit as a last resort).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    I'll do just about anything to get funding for grad. I've even considered the military (albeit as a last resort).
    As a veteran, I strongly discourage you to go this route. Unless you are training to be a pilot, nurse, medic, doctor, engineer (depending on the service) and a few other speciality white-collar fields, the military really works counter to long-term civillian goals. As a soldier who proudly served my country, the military should NOT be treated as a springboard towards a civillian job. You will set yourself up for disappointment.

    However, I strongly encourage you to prepare for school the old fashioned way: hard work, thrift, while saving as much as you can for school. Personally, I think this recession is going have negative impacts on planners' salaries over the long haul. There will still be a high demand for planners. However, the recession has caused everyone (individuals, corporations, and even municipalities) to change their spending habits. This might lead to lower salaries for planners over the next 5-10 years. This is one of the big reasons why I am working for a few more years as a planner, saving up as much as I can for grad school, so I can double up as a landscape architect.

    We have no idea how quickly the economy will improve over the next few years. I have a feeling it might get a lot worse even after we see some signs of recovery. The last thing you need is to go heavily into debt in school without a guarantee of a job when you get out in the next 2-3 years.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    As a veteran, I strongly discourage you to go this route. Unless you are training to be a pilot, nurse, medic, doctor, engineer (depending on the service) and a few other speciality white-collar fields, the military really works counter to long-term civillian goals. As a soldier who proudly served my country, the military should NOT be treated as a springboard towards a civillian job. You will set yourself up for disappointment.

    Even as a member of the reserve? Like National Guard or something?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I believe you still have to commit to the military for a couple years if you go the Reserve / National Guard route for funding. Then there's the issue of getting deployed for an extended period while participating in either of those.

  7. #7
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    Even as a member of the reserve? Like National Guard or something?
    I did my time in the '80s. Figure out something else, trust me. Obama is saying he'll pull out, but would you bet your life on that? The commercials don't frame it like that, do they? Well, do they?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I got a graduate assistantship at the end of my first semester. Alot of the professors are working on funding sources for research throughout the year, so they may not have money to commit for a GA/RA 6 months before the semester starts. Money is tight everywhere. Grants and research funding to universities is not as plentiful as it was a few years ago.

    How did I get my assistantship? I made everyone aware that I was looking for part time work, and I had experience and skills to offer in exchange. Take a GIS course and update your resume. Also don't be afraid to go to other departments at the university. Alot of my classmates got work just doing GIS stuff for other departments that didn't have students with those skills.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    Even as a member of the reserve? Like National Guard or something?
    I was in the guard for 4 years and got out about 6 months before my unit was activated and shipped overseas in 2003. I enlisted and then did a simultaneous membership program (SMP) with Army ROTC. The guard and reserves are even worse than active duty in terms of benefits. If you are in the guard while you are in college, you do drill 1 full weekend every month, AT (annual training) once a year, and yes, you run the risk of being deployed (and they don't care if it's in the middle in the semester). Again, the military is not a money-making machine. If you do it for the money, you are in the wrong place. Period.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I worked full time doing GIS tech work for the local government and went to grad school part time, took 3 years. Nothing says you have to finish in 2 years or less. Summer classes are usually cheaper and can help you get your credits filled up fast too.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Just a note for the vets on the board:

    Thank you for everything you have done for us.

    If I had my druthers, every vet would have totally free tuition to any school no questions asked.

    thanks.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I worked full time doing GIS tech work for the local government and went to grad school part time, took 3 years. Nothing says you have to finish in 2 years or less. Summer classes are usually cheaper and can help you get your credits filled up fast too.
    Seconded, at least from our institution.

    Also...the FAFSA is mostly for Federal Financial Aid, i.e. loans which you can get up to about 18K depending on need, part of this is subsidized which means the interest does not accrue while you are in school and part is unsubsidized which means interest accrues (but you can and should pay it). Also, don't be discouraged if you don't get a TA/GA right off the bat, many times those are awarded to second years based on relationships you establish with professors in the program. Many schools are generous in the amount of student work in the department. I came in with a 50% tuition reduction, a small stipend, and was able to get work in the department pretty quickly. Most universities also have a lot of student employment opportunities and you can also find a job outside as well.

    Living with roommates, considering being an RA for undergrad dorms can get you free or close to free housing, living frugally are all ways to make it work. I'm a single mom and have done it just fine although it's taken me slightly longer.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  13. #13
    Thanks for all the advice, guys.

    As for bringing skills to the table........OK well I graduate this fall, and will not enroll until fall 2010. I'm trying to think of something productive to do during that in-between time next year. I think I'll do either an internship, GIS certification back home at Samford University, or maybe even both. If I could afford to do so, my preference would be GIS certification.

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