4 Different Ways to Get Funding in U.S. University

funding us universityGuide 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.

Teaching Assistant


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.

My opinion

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.

Research Assistant


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).

My opinion

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.

Graduate Assistantships


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.

My opinion

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.

My opinion

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!!

Next – Top 10 Private Universities with Financial Aid for International Students.



  1. perumal on October 21, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    can you suggest me some good universities in US to MS in Electrical Engineering for my marks which i scored in my GRE 282 and in university 72.5%.

  2. bhanu paneru on March 27, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    sir i have completed my MSc in microbiology so i would like to apply for Phd in USA how i have to contact proffesor whwther i have to contact before GRE or after GRE

  3. Devesh on March 9, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Well my question is for a completely different place to Germany. Do these things are equally applicable to Germany?

  4. Shruthi Venkatesh on March 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Just what i need right now! Thanks raghu for this post. Gonna bookmark this one 🙂

  5. junaid on March 3, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    hi i am civil engineering student, i am in last semester of my b.tech
    i want to apply for spring 2014 would the graduate school will offer T.A,
    R.A type of funding in spring intake.

    • HSB Counselor on March 6, 2013 at 11:24 PM

      Hi Junaid, Chances for RA/TA positions are a little less in the Spring semester. You may have to wait till the next Fall semester. But there is nothing impossible. If you have a strong application you may get some sort of financial assistance in Spring semester as well. Else you may have to wait till the next semester.
      All the best!

  6. Kashif on February 27, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Hi, Aren’t any of these opportunities available for undergraduates? Which jobs are available for the students in UG?

    • HSB Counselor on February 28, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      Hi Kashif, Chances of TA/RA are relatively less compared to students pursuing graduate programmes. Reason being undergraduates are not exposed much to research or teaching experiences to contribute to these jobs. What undergraduate students can expect is merit based scholarships which again are tough to get.
      Keep your hopes high nothing is impossible. Prepare well for SAT and TOEFK/IELTS. High scores always help making such chances.

  7. Kumari Nidhi on February 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Thank you HSB for this very useful information. Actually I was looking for these information. Thanks a lot.

  8. Akhila on February 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Very nice informative article!

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