A clear and reasonable funding plan is a key part of every student's graduate education. Although many students cooperate with their major professor to create their funding plan, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to ensure all of their costs are met.
Graduate students need to plan for expenses in three general categories:
Research expenses that support the completion and communication of their research. These include travel to research sites, equipment used to collect or analyze samples, and travel to conferences to present their research.
Living expenses that support their basic survival. These include rent, food, clothing, and transportation.
Due to the unique research interests and lifestyles that each student brings to their graduate program, it is difficult for OSU to estimate the exact total cost of any specific student's attendance. It is important for students to assess their own expenses and how to pay them, both before their program begins and as their program progresses.
Few (if any) students have sufficient financial resources to cover all of these expenses. Consequently, most students need some kind of financial support to get through their graduate program.
There are three general ways that FES graduate students receive funding:
Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs): Most GRAs are appointed by their major professor and are paid using the grants, contracts, or agreements that support their professor's research. Other GRAs may be appointed by course instructors to serve as teaching assistants. For every term that a student is appointed as a GRA, they recceive tuition remission, access to health insurance, and a stipend. This type of funding supports institutional and living expenses but not research expenses. For more information, see the FES Graduate Program Handbook.
OSU awards, scholarships, and fellowships: Competetive scholarships and fellowships are administered at three levels at OSU: the Graduate School, College of Forestry, and FES department. Scholarships and fellowships are usually paid as one lump sum or in installments deposited into the student's business account each term. A few fellowships meet certain criteria that qualifies the receipient to be appointed as an OSU Graduate Fellow. Officially appointed OSU Graduate Fellows receive a tuition waiver and access to health insurance. OSU awards, scholarships and fellowships are best accessed by applying in careful accordance with award instructions and deadlines. Please be aware that certain OSU awards, scholarships and fellowships may carry restrictions on how they can be accessed or used - please thoroughly review award stipulations before applying to determine if that award will suit your needs. See the Graduate School Awards page or the FES Graduate Program Handbook for more information.
External awards, scholarships, and fellowships: External funding is usually an award paid directly to the recipient without interacting with OSU, although some external funding meets the criteria to appoint the recipient as an OSU Graduate Fellow. Officially appointed OSU Graduate Fellows receive a tuition waiver and access to health insurance. External funding is best accessed by independently locating potential funding sources and applying in careful accordance with award instructions and deadlines. Please be aware that certain external awards may carry restrictions on how they can be accessed or used - please thoroughly review award stipulations before applying to determine if that award will suit your needs. See the External Funding section below for more information.
We strongly encourage students to search and apply for external funding to help support research and living expenses. Besides helping to relieve financial stress, receiving external funding is an excellent addition to a student’s CV. Graduate students should discuss options for external funding with their major professors. Major professors are expected to alert their students to funding opportunities in their professional fields.
The OSU Library offers assistance in searching for and applying to external funding, and students can find a partial list of opportunities on the Graduate School webpage. For other opportunities, students should ask their major professor and graduate committee for suggestions. Searching online may also yield funding opportunities specific to particular research areas or identities.