September 2022 Dear Gabby: 3 Questions from Grad Students

Sept. 15, 2022

Hello Graduate Students,

I’d like to re-introduce Gabby who loves to gab about grants and grant writing. This month’s Gradfunding features her responses to questions she has received in the past few months. Some names and details have been changed to protect the innocent. We invite you to submit your own questions!



Dear Gabby,

I am in the Fred Fox School of Music, and I suddenly got a chance to go to New York in two weeks to work with a guitarist whom I’ve admired for years. I’ve talked with the head of our department, and he is supportive of the trip and said he’d try to help. Do you have any suggestions for funding?

On a String Budget

Hello On a String Budget,

Wonderful! This sounds like an amazing opportunity. As you seem to be aware, the best time to apply for grants is a few months ago, but life rarely operates according to our preferred timelines. You are on the right track; your department and your college may have some funds to help in these kinds of situations. I’d also suggest applying for the GPSC travel grants. Fortunately, you can apply for the GPSC grants even after you complete your travel.

Have a wonderful trip!



Hello Gabby,

How can I fund my doctoral work through internal UA grants if I am conducting my research in Tucson and need support for rent and cost of living?

Staying in Place

Dear Staying in Place,

This is a common question. Once you get to the dissertation stage, it is often wise to put your head down and complete your degree as quickly as possible. But it isn’t always easy to get the funds to focus on your dissertation. Here are four suggestions.

  1. Do some good searches using all the tools that we suggest in our other advice articles. Ideally, you will be able to find a fellowship to fully support you, but there just are not a ton of fellowships that will do that. (You definitely should look for and apply to the ones that exist.) Next, consider options outside of fellowships.
  2. Write down what you hope to be doing in five years. Are there any gaps you need to fill now to make yourself an especially good candidate for the job you want in the future? Look at our list of ways people pay for graduate school. Would it be a good idea to look for a teaching position? Or get an on or off campus job that expands your experience while you finish?
  3. Do a cost benefit analysis. For graduate students who know they can get a well-paying job after finishing their degree, it could be worth it to get a small loan that will allow them to focus on writing for six months and finish up. If that is not the case for you, trim expenses as much as possible, find the least demanding (or most beneficial) work available, participate in any writing support that you find helpful, communicate to friends and family that you need to focus for a few months, and do your best.
  4. Have conversations with your Advisor and other people in your department. Talk with other graduate students about how they funded or plan to fund the dissertation stage. Discuss all possible funding options with your Graduate Coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies.

I hope that helps. You have gotten this far, so you can do it!



Hi Gabby,

I did an internship over the summer, and now the organization wants to fund my dissertation work. What should I do next?

Happy Grad Student

Dear Happy Grad Student,

This is terrific news! Congratulations!

I recommend that you start with your Advisor, Director of Graduate Studies, and Graduate Coordinator to make sure that the Advisor approves of the funding and that that the funding aligns with departmental policy. Be sure to discuss questions about confidentiality and ownership of the research that may arise in the process of your dissertation work.

Your business office should be able to help determine whether the organization provides the funding directly to you, or if it needs to be funneled through the University and then disbursed to you. If the funds will come through the University, your department will need to work with Sponsored Projects and Contracting Services establishing an account under your department for the funds to come to and be disbursed from.

Again, congratulations on the award!