Aim Low For Funding

Nov. 13, 2015

As you search for funding, large fellowships of thousands of dollars will probably catch your attention. You should apply to the big fellowships, but also consider applying for smaller ones. Aiming for the small potatoes is worth your time for three reasons:

  1. The more you apply for fellowships, the better you will get at it.

  2. Smaller fellowships are usually less competitive so you are more likely to receive the award.

  3. Funded people get more funding; getting smaller awards will make you more competitive for the larger fellowships.

How do you find smaller fellowships? Here are a few places to look:

Department or College Funding

Start with your department and college. If you are just beginning your graduate career, spend a little time exploring the annual awards offered by your department and your college. You can often find these opportunities on websites, but not always. For example, the Writing Program, has a nice little award for graduate teachers who use music in the writing classroom – the only way to currently find out about this award through word of mouth. Knowing about these sorts of opportunities, which are often granted in the spring, gives you time to prepare to apply.

University Funding

Next, explore what is available at the university level. All UA graduate students should apply for the GPSC travel and research grants (; these are wonderful sources of funding that are available to both domestic and international students.

Then there are many other interesting opportunities at the university level. For example, Tech Launch Arizona has a Student Innovation Fellows ( program for students interested in commercialization and technology. The UA Renewable Energy Network is currently accepting applications for students interested in energy-related fields (  

Information about most university-wide funding opportunities can be found on Scholarship Universe (

City or State Funding

Finally, look in the larger Tucson community, or any other community to which you belong. Local churches, Rotary clubs, and other organizations often have small funds available to support students. For example, the Arizona Community Foundation currently has two opportunities available for graduate students in Public Administration. On December 7th, they will open nearly 100 opportunities, only some of these are for graduate students but the process is easy and it is worth looking at what is available (

Large databases of funding opportunities are extremely useful as you look for information on funding. You should use them, but while looking for smaller opportunities don’t neglect the most ancient way of discovering information – talking to the people around you.


The GradFunding Newsletter is a service of the University of Arizona Graduate College, Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement. You may reuse this article but please acknowledge Shelley Hawthorne Smith and the University of Arizona Graduate College Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement.

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