Once you’re accepted into a Ph.D. program, the problem for many students may not be how to complete the coursework or find a job afterward, but how to pay for school in the process. If you’re fortunate enough to land a scholarship at the school of your choice, but other students may not be so lucky. Here’s a list of some alternative means you can use to fund your Ph.D. that you may not be aware of.
- Find a Grant
Grants operate similarly to scholarships in that they’re free for the student to receive, don’t require payback, and are awarded on merit and need. Where they differ is the source of funding. Many federal and state-level grants are available to students who apply through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid); if you qualify, you’ll be notified after the approval process. Alternatively, some companies and foundations may also provide grants for Ph.D. students, but the requirements may be specific to certain fields or certain demographics like gender, nationality, or age.
- Gain a Fellowship
Fellowships are particularly prestigious because they’re highly sought after, very competitive, and usually only come about after numerous interviews and recommendations from past professors. Not only do fellowships pay for your tuition, books, and other fees, but they usually also carry a stipend to live off as well, making them ideal for students who want to devote themselves fully to doctoral work.
- Get a Side Gig
It’s not the most glamorous route but getting a side hustle can be a great way to earn some extra money to pay for your schooling. Things like driving for Uber, freelance writing, or others can bring in a good chunk of change. If you’re especially prominent in your side gig, it could even turn into a full-time job or something to put on your resume after graduation.
- Obtain a Private Loan
Doctorate degrees are normally not eligible for federal loans due to the loan size limit these type of loans have. Private student loans are a great option if you don’t have another means of funding your PHD. They can come with fixed or variable interest rates – anywhere from 3-10%. As with most traditional loans, you’ll have to have an established credit score and possibly even a cosigner, but if you have both of those, you should be able to get a pretty decent interest rate.
Another reason you should consider a private loan for your doctorate is that you can always refinance the loan later on when you have a better credit score. This makes these loans a cheaper option in the long run than other funding options.
- Crowdfund Your Ph.D.
If you’re not familiar with the term, crowdfunding is all the rage in the startup world, as businesses put up their products or inventions online in hopes that backers will support them in exchange for early adoptions or reduced prices. While nobody else will theoretically benefit from your Ph.D. work (at least, directly), setting up a campaign through a site like FundMyPHD.com may allow other people who are passionate about your type of work to support you financially. Make sure you treat your campaign like a business if you want it to work, which means making a video and getting it shared on social media.