Finding Funding

Aug. 13, 2018

The number one question I get in the Office of Fellowships, is “how do I find funding?”

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The possibilities are endless; maybe a person you meet on the bus will decide she wants to pay your tuition or an anonymous donor will buy the equipment you need. I hope something like this this happens to you.

Meanwhile, I do have some more practical advice.


1. Talk to People

Your advisor and your colleagues are almost invariably the best place sources of information on funding. However, you need to ask them. Ask grad students who are nearing graduation for their advice about funding and ask faculty how other grad students have funded their tenure as students.

Secondly, when you attend conferences and find people who do work similar to your work, ask them about funding. When you read articles on work that is similar to yours, find out how the work was funded. However, because everyone’s work is different and because new opportunities continually pop up, it is a good idea to supplement the advice of the people around you with other sources of information.


2. Search Funding Databases

Pivot and Grant Forward are amazing sources of information. They are huge databases with a googolplex of funding opportunities. Just kidding, I wanted to use that word but they actually have far fewer opportunities; Pivot says they have $49.93 billion worth of funding opportunities and Grant Forward says they list over 9,000 sponsors, which is still a lot. These databases are not free, but as a UA student, you have already paid to use them. The best way to get into these databases is through the UA library website.

The best part of the funding databases is that you can get free, personalized funding alerts. This is truly a wonderful resource. I have some tips for setting up your personalized alert.

I also like to visit UCLA’s database, GRAPES. It is simpler than Pivot or Grant Forward and less comprehensive, but you can get results in seconds.


3. Pay attention to UA Sources of Funding

Because the U of A is so large and decentralized, it can be easy to lose track of the funding opportunities available specifically for UA students. Try to stay abreast of what your college, school, and department have to offer. Many institutions across campus maintain lists of opportunities. There are too many lists to feature in this email, but here are a few particularly helpful examples:

The Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI) maintains a funding list. This includes opportunities that are specific to the U of A, although many of those opportunities are not specifically for graduate students.

SBSRI also maintain a wonderful little database of funding opportunities:

The College of Science has a list of opportunities for graduate students and other colleges have similar lists.

And every single graduate student should apply to the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) funding at least once while they are at the UA. It is great source of funding:


4. Make a plan

One key to finding funding is to keep track of when to apply for which opportunity. If you do not already have one, begin a spreadsheet now to help keep track of opportunities.

Remember that most funding opportunities have application deadlines several months (or even a year) before the start of the fellowship. So look for opportunities well in advance of when you will need them. For example, apply for summer opportunities now. And if you are beginning your dissertation research, keep your eye on postdoctoral positions.


Good luck! We have a lot more advice on our website.


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