Guide to Funding in a U.S. University by Vikas Bansal, Grad student, UMBC.
Funding is on top most priority in every international student’s list. Funding is given in three ways by any university. Most common ways are Teaching Assistant (TA), Research Assistant (RA), Graduate Assistant and graders. Now I am going to discuss about these positions one by one.
Please ignore any grammatical, fragmentation, structural error. This article is a side effect of (5 minutes)*20 boring bus rides.
Assisting a professor in managing a class during semester. Some of the responsibilities may include office hours to solve doubts of students, correcting exams and invigilation during exam.
Very very decent compensation. They pay for 9 credits per semester. And also $1400 for living expenses (way more than what you actually need to survive). Compensation may change for half TAs (half everything).
How to get?
No specific criteria for this type of funding. It is generally allotted by program director at the time of admission.
Most of the TAs are allotted with admit letter with one year of contract. High gre scores, relevant experience, research profile and gpa ate dome deciders in TA during admission.
Very few TAs are given after admission letter. In first semester if your program director is taking a course, make sure you perform excellent in that as TAs are allotted by him only.
Financially chill job but doesn’t add to your resume as relevant work experience.
TAship is like a surprise package, it may come when you least expect it or may never come. For students who definitely need funding can not rely on TAship.
You get to work on a funded project (funded by organizations such as NSF).
You work under a professor to help him complete the project. In my opinion this is the best type of funding because you get to add some weight to resume in addition to enjoying luxury of a good income.
Experience gained while working on a research project is very valuable. And there is a good chance that professor might fund you for the entire duration of project which is usually more than 3 semesters.
Compensation is more than decent, equivalent to or even more than that of TA (9 credits, health insurance, 1400 stipend).
How to get?
In my opinion, this is the most logical and assured way of getting funding, provided that you work hard.
Search for RAship can and should start even before you reach university.
As soon as you get admit, start reading about the research work being done by professors.
If you find something relevant to your previous work or something that interests you, email that professor regarding that. Meet him as soon as you reach the campus.
Remember, he might ask you to work for him for free for first semester to test your dedication. Work hard to impress him and you will surely get funding by next semester.
One alternative way is to take independent study under a professor who you know has funding (check their personal web page for that). Perform well in independent study, ask for funding after 2-3 months of work (patience is the key here).
Of all the funding types, RAship is the only one which is directly related to the effort you put in. If you do hard work, you will get it.
Not at all related to your course work. Mundane office activities.
It’s very decent. They may also fund you for 9 credits plus more than 1k of stipend.
How to get?
Look for openings on graduate student association board in your school. Keep your eyes, ears, nose everything open and apply as soon as there is an opening.
Doesn’t add to your resume but compensation is good.
Note from Raghu: You can actually add this to your resume as part of research or work experience. Even though it doesn’t count as work experience, but its good to list couple of semesters of GA experience in resume. If GA is different from your thesis, then you should include in your resume.
For instance, if GA is from different department as webmaster, then you can add it to your resume.
If GA is part of your Thesis, then include a section for Thesis/Project in your resume.
Correct and grade papers.
At max they can make your tuition instate which is like half of the original tuition. Pay is like 1.2k per month.
How to get?
They are given randomly like TAs. Don’t rely on this.
Even if you get this position for a semester, start looking for RAs or better opportunities because they are usually given for a semester only. So you might lose it I second semester.
That’s it from my side guys. READ, REMEMBER AND ACT!!