Types of Scholarships & Funding
Help with funding isn’t necessarily limited to scholarships only! There are several sources of financial assistance available to you, and they all require different methods of application.
Scholarships and grants
Arguably the most applied to of all financial help, this application process is usually pretty similar to applying to the course itself. In fact, some universities have the practice of accepting the applications for entry onto a postgraduate course and for funding as one.
Let’s have a look at the criteria that institutions look for when awarding scholarships, and what is usually required to prove you have them.
Good grades tend to be an absolute must for scholarships and grants. You’ll need all your academic transcripts, proof of any academic prizes won and possibly letters from academic references.
Outside of the classroom
You’ll want to show that you’re made of more than just your grades. The application form will likely have a section devoted to extracurricular activities and/or work history. Make the most of this opportunity to show that you are a well-rounded individual who has useful skills and experiences under your belt.
Showing you’re the right person
This is usually displayed through a written personal statement or a written response to the question ‘Why should we award you this scholarship?’ Some institutions also award scholarships as prizes to essay-writing competitions, as a way to test your research and writing skills.
For means-tested financial aid, you’ll have to declare your personal and household income to prove that you are in financial need. This could include documents such as your payslip and income tax filing statement.
Many scholarship and grant committees now include an interview as part of the application process. This could range from an initial telephone interview to a full panel interview in front of academics and admission officers. This is where your communication skills, interview know-how and confidence come to play.
Due to the nature of assistantships, the application process for these are more similar to job applications than applying for a course. You’ll still need to demonstrate good grades, but your application form should highlight your interests in the relevant area of research and a good working ethic. Thus, if you have any relevant work history under your belt, make sure you include it in your application. You must also prove that you are able to take on the additional workload in addition to your course – a well-rounded résumé alongside academics would be able to show this.
The prerequisites here would be stellar performance at work and good relationships with your superiors and colleagues. You must also be prepared to explain how your postgraduate study will add benefit to your employer. Acquaint yourself with the various talent development initiatives offered by your company and find out more about how to apply – different companies have different application processes.
Make your interest in furthering your studies known to your superiors and through the proper channels, convince them that funding your endeavours will lead to a value increase in their human capital in the long run. However, make sure you research the bonds and conditions of any financial assistance you seek, especially if you see yourself switching employers in the near future.
When it comes to loans, you should worry more about the researching stage than applications. Approach it as you would when shopping to make a purchase – compare prices, look for the best value and read the fine print carefully. Always ensure that you can comfortably manage the interest rate and repayment period of any loan you take.
Loan applications can be quite clear-cut, but they may also be rather stressful as they also require quite a bit of financial paperwork. Give yourself plenty of time to consider all your options and get together the necessary documentation, and don’t forget to take into account the time you’ll spend waiting to hear back from the loan provider.