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Financial Assistance for MFA Programs
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darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 5, 2004, 8:40 PM

Post #1 of 104 (12215 views)
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Financial Assistance for MFA Programs Can't Post

One thing that would be nice is a board where we can trade information regarding grants and scholarships for those of us considering graduate school.

Is that possible?

Darren


taizhu


Jun 5, 2005, 12:11 PM

Post #2 of 104 (12928 views)
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Re: [mzevin] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that full funding for an mfa program is definitely a possibility. As a matter of fact, I applied for MFA's last year on the self-imposed condition that I would attend ONLY if I received full funding.

My experience is that few schools in NYC offer good funding packages. So you have to be willing to be somewhere else. But out of the 10 schools I applied to--I got into 5, of the 5--four of them offered full funding + stipend.

I got into 1 school in NYC. Its funding offer was laughable...particularly given the job prospects following an mfa program.

I will be attending an MFA program next year. I am definitely going to be living in a town that I would not have moved to otherwise. Not so happy about that, but the money makes it a no-brainer for me. I still contend that it makes no sense to pay for an MFA degree.


lillyl


Jun 6, 2005, 9:42 AM

Post #3 of 104 (12898 views)
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Re: [mzevin] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Any advice on how to get into MFA with full funding or is this impossiblity...

It's definitely not an impossibility. I applied to only schools that offered full funding. You've just got to be willing to maybe move away from NYC-- I can't think of a new york school that offers full funding.
My list:

UT Austin Michener Center-- Full funding & way more than any other school-- I think about 15,000 a year stipend.
University of Florida-- teaching assistantship with 9,000 a year stipend
The Ohio State University-- either first year fellowship or TA ship, 12,000 a year
Wichita State-- I think
Indiana University

& tons more. You've just got to be willing to do a TA ship or move somewhere.

I honestly do not suggest getting into debt from an MFA program. It is not a career path.


sovietsleepover


Jun 6, 2005, 1:26 PM

Post #4 of 104 (12877 views)
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Re: [mzevin] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Schools that offer full funding to all accepted students:
- University of Wisconsin (new program that accepts 6 students in one genre every other year)
- University of California @ Irvine
- University of Alabama (3-4 year program)
- University of Cincinnatti
- University of Michigan (funds everyone at least 70%, others more; the TAing deal is really cushy)
- Michener Center--University of Texas @ Austin (that stipend is $22k with no teaching duties!)
- University of Florida ($9k for 1 class/semester)
- University of Houston (~$10k for 2 classes/semester--overwork!)
- University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champagne
- University of Indiana
- Florida State University
- Notre Dame
- Washington Univ of St. Louis
- Penn State
- Ohio State University, I think..


nomojo
A.D.T.

Jun 6, 2005, 9:43 PM

Post #5 of 104 (12857 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this list.


taizhu


Jun 7, 2005, 12:20 AM

Post #6 of 104 (12843 views)
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Re: [nomojo] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

One more school to add to the list for full funding for all students...Cornell. They only take 4 in each discipline but they ARE onyl 4 hours away from NYC.


nomojo
A.D.T.

Jun 7, 2005, 12:23 AM

Post #7 of 104 (12842 views)
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Re: [taizhu] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

When we are all saying 'full funding', does this mean that tuition is waived entirely or that one's stipend or assistantship is enough to pay for tuition?


taizhu


Jun 7, 2005, 12:34 AM

Post #8 of 104 (12840 views)
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Re: [nomojo] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

For the schools that I received full funding from--each offer consisted of free tuition + stipend

Three of those stipends required some sort of service commitment (teaching or research assistanceship). One of them required nothing on my part.

In general, I think it depends on the school. I found the following website helpful in my search:

http://www.writehabit.org/programs.html

I would also check the program websites to see what they say about funding. Alot of schools waive and/or reduce tuition if you receive a fellowship/assitanceship.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jun 7, 2005, 11:02 AM

Post #9 of 104 (12825 views)
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Re: [taizhu] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Iowa is pretty close to full funding as well. Not everyone gets the same deal, but they're pretty good about finding money for everyone, either through fellowships (that may or may not involve teaching), teaching assistantships, or research assistantships. The financial aid situation at Iowa is, frankly, a little confusing, since it's a bigger program and they have to get money from all corners. But the bottom line is that they're good about finding money for their students.

Mike


ejdifili
Emily

Sep 30, 2007, 12:21 PM

Post #10 of 104 (11659 views)
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Re: [mingram] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I completed an MA in Spanish Literature at Washington University in St. Louis in 2005. Now, I am in the process of applying to MFA programs, and I wanted to share my opinions and experiences with financial aid.

Wash U provided all students accepted into the Spanish MA with full tuition waivers and stipends of about $15K per year. The MA was 3 semesters, and you had to teach for 2.

First of all, I am most thankful that I did not go into debt doing my MA. While Spanish is, in theory, more "useful" than creative writing, any kind of humanities degree probably isn't going to put you in a postion to earn a ton of money afterword. Unless you want to get into some kind of business field and eventually pursue an MBA, which was not my bag. At this point, I am teaching Spanish at a Catholic high school in rural Missouri. I like my job, although I make less than $30K and am still incurring tuition expenses to get my Teaching Certificate.

Just FYI: if you think you're going to teach English or writing K-12 after completing your MFA, then you may have a rough go of it until you're fully certified, which implies at least another 20 hours of coursework in education. It's feasible, but you'll probably end up going part-time at night, and it's highly unlikely that you'll get any financial aid for that. And of course, you can't count on being fortunate enough to land a tenure-track position at the university level right out of grad school.

One of my undergraduate professors once told me not to look at the MFA as a professional degree, that is, as something that's actually going to earn you money. Hopefully it will get you closer to publication and to teaching at the college level if that's what you want, but you should have a back-up plan. And, as I say, unless you have skills to enter the business world or some other high-paying industry, you're not going to be making much once you graduate. Don't combine that situation with massive debt.

In addition, I found my teaching experience at Wash U to be highly valuable. You may think that teaching high school or at a community college sounds shitty, but to me, it's at least better than sitting in a cubicle 40 hours a week. so having some teaching experience during your graduate years can help expand your options after completing your degree.


Moonshade


Sep 30, 2007, 3:04 PM

Post #11 of 104 (11643 views)
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Re: [ejdifili] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
You may think that teaching high school or at a community college sounds shitty, but to me, it's at least better than sitting in a cubicle 40 hours a week.



AMEN!!! For the past year I've been a substitute teacher (or a babysitter as some people sneer), and although the pay is LOUSY and the job stressful, I find it preferable to those boring Office jobs. I hate all that admin. crap--filing, faxing, answering phones, phony office culture, etc. So I use my grand English Lit. degree to sub-teach instead. No desire to be a "real" teacher either, the beaucracy, red tape and work forced upon teachers is way too much for me too. Plus the public school system is practically in the toilet.

I've got to find a better way to use my degree.....


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 30, 2007, 6:36 PM

Post #12 of 104 (11618 views)
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Re: [darredet] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

One thing I would say on this subject is to do research amongst the schools that interest you. By which I mean, find out from the administration or current students what the current financial situation is.

The financial situations of schools can change dramatically from one year to the next and misinformation is pretty rampant about MFA programs. Find out what schools look interesting to you based on location, reputation, faculty, alumni and so on, then call the schools and learn what the chances for fellowships are for the upcoming year.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 1, 2007, 6:09 PM

Post #13 of 104 (11564 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I said no to my office/cube job as well but sub teaching is WAY stressfull and I didn't need that along with all the MFA work so i'm looking for a good ole bookstore job now :)


http://jessiecarty.com


writerle


Oct 1, 2007, 6:17 PM

Post #14 of 104 (11561 views)
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Re: [jacarty] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I've done the good ole bookstore job and the sub teaching. I loved the bookstore (except for the evening and weekend hours) but the pay was lousy. I make about three times as much sub teaching. I put up with the stress so that I can work less hours and free up more time for writing.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 1, 2007, 6:21 PM

Post #15 of 104 (11559 views)
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Re: [writerle] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I've done the good ole bookstore job and the sub teaching. I loved the bookstore (except for the evening and weekend hours) but the pay was lousy. I make about three times as much sub teaching. I put up with the stress so that I can work less hours and free up more time for writing.



you must have a good county to work in :) the pay here for sub teaching isn't bad but isn't that much different from a decent retail job. what i'd like to do is just find some work tutoring, but I'll keep looking.

i'm impressed by the people who manage to work full time and do the mfa programs. i think if i had a job i liked i could do it too.

--jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


writerle


Oct 1, 2007, 6:30 PM

Post #16 of 104 (11557 views)
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Re: [jacarty] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I live in Southern California, so yes, the pay for sub teaching is probably much higher than in many other areas. But then, so is the cost of living.

I'm low res and I do know plenty of people in my program who work full time, so it can be done. Of course, I've never actually had a full time job before, so what would I know?


jaywalke


Oct 4, 2007, 10:05 AM

Post #17 of 104 (11502 views)
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Re: [jacarty] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I said no to my office/cube job as well but sub teaching is WAY stressfull and I didn't need that along with all the MFA work so i'm looking for a good ole bookstore job now :)


I have an office/cube job I enjoy--at a university. There is a different atmosphere when the end result is something other than profit. There are politics and machinations at every job, but the depths of office evil are much shallower here than when I worked in the private sector for ten years before entering academia. There are also great perks like gyms and low-cost trainers, classes, arts events, library privileges, sports and clubs for every interest.

If you're near a university, especially one in a smaller town, an English degree will likely give you a leg up when applying for admin jobs. When I post an opening for my group I get 100 applications minimum, and the first thing I do is sort through looking for English degrees.

Obviously, it also puts you in with a group who is supportive of education. I'll be keeping my full-time job when I start at Queens, and everyone at work is aware of it. They're nearly as geeked as me.


edwriter



Oct 4, 2007, 7:13 PM

Post #18 of 104 (11453 views)
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Re: [darredet] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I know I've posted this before on another thread, but this seems like a good place to repost: I maintain a list of possible funding resources specifically for writers in low-res programs here. If you know of changes/updates/new resources to add, I'd be grateful if you'd leave a comment. Thanks!

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



edwriter



Oct 4, 2007, 7:38 PM

Post #19 of 104 (11447 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] Non-teaching university employment for writers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have an office/cube job I enjoy--at a university. There is a different atmosphere when the end result is something other than profit. There are politics and machinations at every job, but the depths of office evil are much shallower here than when I worked in the private sector for ten years before entering academia. There are also great perks like gyms and low-cost trainers, classes, arts events, library privileges, sports and clubs for every interest.


Even after earning an MFA, non-teaching university employment is something to consider. Not everyone who wants to teach is going to be able to get a tenure-track teaching job (especially soon after graduation); some people aren't interested in teaching in the first place. But universities can indeed be very good places for writers to work.

I have a full-time non-teaching job now in a university (after having spent some years post-MFA teaching and/or freelancing), and I know several other writers who have finished MFA programs who have also found full-time writing-related work in universities. In fact, a group of us proposed an AWP panel this year specifically on this topic of non-teaching university employment for writers, but the proposal was turned down.

I've begun including these jobs on my weekly "Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities" posts on my blog, so if this interests any of you and you want to see the possibilities I'm locating, please check the blog (link below)

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



ejdifili
Emily

Oct 4, 2007, 9:19 PM

Post #20 of 104 (11434 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Non-teaching university employment for writers [In reply to] Can't Post

   
I appreciate these posts about non-teaching jobs at universities. To be honest, it's not something that I'd really considered, but it sounds like a good idea. Although the great part about teaching (K-12 or at the college level) is having the summers off for writing and other pursuits. A creative and intellectual work envioronment means a lot though.

We should start a thread about post-MFA employment options. I don't think I have that capability.

-Emily


edwriter



Oct 5, 2007, 8:31 AM

Post #21 of 104 (11410 views)
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Re: [ejdifili] Non-teaching university employment for writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Good point. I can't seem to start a new thread, either. Dana, could you please help us?

I also wanted to mention that I know a few people who have worked their way through MFA programs at the same universities that employed them. (Often benefits include reduced tuition.)

And yes, it would be nice to have the summer free (and a possible long winter recess, too). Right now I'm saving up my vacation days, which are fairly generous (more generous than they were when I was working for the government) in case I apply for and receive admission to a conference or residency in 2008.

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Oct 6, 2007, 9:08 PM

Post #22 of 104 (11394 views)
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In Reply To
Dana, could you please help us?



Sure thing...

Try this --- Finished the MFA - Now what?


ecphraticknolls


Oct 7, 2007, 1:16 AM

Post #23 of 104 (11380 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I just want to say: don't limit yourself to programs that automatically offer full funding. There are plenty of GTA opportunities at other programs... don't wash your hands of them simply because the funding isn't automatic. Seriously... look for places where you like the people you'll be working with. Then see what happens from there. Of course funding is an issue, but I'm saying that it is worth applying to other places where it isn't automatic if there is faculty that excites you. I'm very happy that I applied to Colorado State.


edwriter



Oct 7, 2007, 10:11 AM

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Thanks, Dana.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



sovietsleepover


Oct 8, 2007, 1:55 PM

Post #25 of 104 (11316 views)
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Re: [ecphraticknolls] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely agree*. As for the out-of-left-field funding, an acquaintance of mine who got her MFA from Pitt without funding was able to find a sort of workstudy job answering phones for some paraprofessional school, which paid minimum wage plus a tuition waiver. She may've gotten official funding for her second &/or third years. Other friends of mine worked 20hrs/wk AND had tuition waiver graderships, which seemed like a lot of work.

Still, paying for an MFA (and the cost of living/rent/food while trying to commit to writing) is a heavy decision, and without lots of savings &/or family wealth, the weight of accumulated debt may encumber your writing process. I know it would mine--my family has always lived far beneath the poverty line, so taking on that kind of debt would be paralyzing to me. Personally, if I had to choose between paying for an MFA and not going to graduate school for another year or two, I would choose the latter. You can always become a better writer on your own and keep trying!



*Though places which don't offer full funding to everyone can have a weird hierarchy & innate competition, which may not be fun to be part of. Ask students about this if you consider going to one of these places!


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Nov 30, 2007, 11:37 PM

Post #26 of 104 (5464 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Erika,

Thought you might find this resource useful. The Career Development Fellowship offers funding for women who are returning to grad school to "enhance or advance" their careers. The funding ranges from a minimum of 2k to a maximum of 12k. Just submitted my application tonight.

To learn more about the AAUW scholarships and fellowships, go to:

http://www.aauw.org/education/fga//fellowships_grants/index.cfm

Best,
Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


edwriter



Dec 1, 2007, 8:43 AM

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Re: [jlgwriter] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Jeanne. I've known about that Career Development Grant, as I believe it's called, for a few years, but since they charge a fee to apply ($35 for nonmembers), I haven't always recommended it to pre-MFAers. It's an idiosyncrasy on my part, but I have an issue with "grant" programs that charge application fees. But you're right, people should know about it. Good luck with the competition!

Best,
Erika


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



captaintodd
Todd Thomas


Feb 4, 2008, 10:35 PM

Post #28 of 104 (5310 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess this question most belongs under the Funding topic: Can anyone speak of the FAFSA application process?

I am, before I attempt it on my own, asking you folks who've already been through the process, for any kind of helpful hints. I've never done so much as my own taxes before, so this stuff is all French to me. I'd appreciate something of a motherly, hand-held tutorial that could offer up anything from time approximations for the process to general advice for someone who has yet to file taxes. I need to complete the FAFSA in a week. Im sure most applicants are thinking about this, too.
And, this way, we can all talk about something on here that doesn't involve freaking out about upcoming rejections.

Thanks!


malber


Feb 4, 2008, 10:58 PM

Post #29 of 104 (5297 views)
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Re: [captaintodd] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

my BEST advice is not to go to a school that requires you to pay (and, therefore, to avoid the FAFSA altogether).

otherwise, you need to do your taxes, then google FAFSA. it's pretty easy, but you need your PIN first... they should've sent it to you, or if not, they can mail you a new one. and you need to know your schools code (call the finaid department, or check their websites). you can apply before you get in. in fact, you should do it right after you finish your taxes.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Feb 4, 2008, 11:08 PM

Post #30 of 104 (5293 views)
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Re: [captaintodd] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm...I've done the FAFSA twice--once for our college freshman last year and once for me for an MFA this year. The good news is that the second time is infinitely easier than the first. The bad news is that your first FAFSA application is a monster.

Get started on it NOW and give yourself several days to complete it. The form doesn't take days to fill out, but it can be overwhelming the first time, especially if you have to look for information. You can save your incomplete form and return to it to work on it later. FAFSA gives you a PIN # so it's easy to do this. If I recall, there are about 7-8 pages. You will need financial information, employment info., last year's tax return (or this year's), addresses, phone numbers, soc. security number(s), bank account and savings info, your driver's license number, and a good knowledge of your income, financial resources, and debts. I'm doing this from memory, so I may have forgotten something.

As I said, it can be overwhelming. Read the instructions carefully and organize your paperwork so it's accessible. I found it helpful to print the blank forms out and fill a lot of stuff in in pencil. Then I typed the info into the online forms.

You should receive what is called an EFC (?) Estimated Financial Contribution after you finish the FAFSA. This is a rough amount of what you will be expected to pay. Don't panic when you see this because it doesn't include any student loans.

Finally, keep a copy of EVERYTHING you submit and read the terms of the loans you apply for carefully. Some places have hidden fees and costs buried in the loan, while others (usually run by state organizations) refund origination fees and offer discounts.

You'll get through this just fine if you read directions carefully and pay attention to the details. It sounds much worse than it is. (I just hate filling out forms like this!) And the second time was 100 times easier than the first.

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


Glyph


Feb 5, 2008, 6:26 AM

Post #31 of 104 (5249 views)
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Re: [malber] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought I read somewhere that MFA students have to fill out the FAFSA if they receive any form of financial aid, even fellowships/assistantships... Does anyone know if this is true and, if so, what is the deadline for filling out the FAFSA for students entering in Fall 2008?


malber


Feb 5, 2008, 9:06 AM

Post #32 of 104 (5229 views)
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Re: [Glyph] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

well I never filled it out and i'm getting my fellowship just fine... and at least while getting my MA in creative writing last year, i didn't have to fill it out for assistantships either.

here's why: at these schools (Ohio State now and Eastern Michigan then), at least, the assistantships/fellowships are considered payment for being an employee. FAFSA is simply a way to qualify for financial aid, which employment isn't.


malber


Feb 5, 2008, 9:08 AM

Post #33 of 104 (5225 views)
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Re: [Glyph] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

i should say, though, taht you still CAN fill out the FAFSA even if you're fully funded... no harm, no foul. it's possible you can qualify for other types of student aid to help with the cost of attending, BUT that would most likely be student loans... and you'd have to report that you're tuition is already paid for.

and i got enough of those as is.


mummylicker


Feb 5, 2008, 9:54 AM

Post #34 of 104 (5203 views)
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Re: [malber] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for all of the advice on this topic! It's one I've been wondering about myself. One thing I'm unclear on: I don't need to file the FAFSA until I know where I'm going and how/if I'm funded, right? Thanks!


Taryn_S


Feb 5, 2008, 12:38 PM

Post #35 of 104 (5139 views)
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Re: [mummylicker] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

FAFSA has a priority deadline (it can be submitted later, but you may be eligible for less $), which is in March (the 1st?) I believe. Some of the programs I applied to recommend that it be submitted by mid-February to be processed by the priority deadline. Everyone should fill it out, even if they don't want to take out loans. Many schools use the info to determine financial need. Can't hurt!


guidedvoices


Feb 5, 2008, 2:02 PM

Post #36 of 104 (5108 views)
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Re: [Taryn_S] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I edited the original post to try and focus the discussion that this hopefully creates:

I would like some truly candid information about MFA programs. A lot of talk seems to be true, but turns out to be not quite the whole truth.
Can we have a brass tacks, honest discussion about the funding situations of various MFA programs? Is money a problem at this program? Does it struggle to fund its students, and how much does it really give its students? What is it actually like to teach there?

Maybe another, closely-related thread would concern programs' true climates. Anonymous posters can provide the real scoop on programs, and the web can, with good economy, do what it should. MFA programs are much like corporate administrations and chefs in that they are masters of dressing up and dissembling. Tom Kealey's Creative Writing MFA Handbook was a start along the path of clinical dissection, but his book is flawed on many counts. For instance, he's clearly biased toward UMass. (I'm going to take the first step and try to inject some liveliness and candor into this forum. I've posted a behind-the-scenes piece about UMass in the UMass (Fiction) thread.)

I feel this kind of information is crucial. People want to know as much as they can about a place before they spend two or three years of their lives there, right? Let's make our own Speakeasy Handbook. We can have school-by-school breakdowns, like the Kealey book, only more comprehensive and representative of the reality of the program. This should make it much easier to know what you're applying to and potentially attending. I have a feeling that a lot of other applicants would like to know this information, but that it is not discreet to ask someone these questions face to face or even via email. Aside from anonymously donated synopses, this information remains unavailable to the applicant until he/she matriculates, and has to find out the hard way. Contributors should be very familiar with the program, and willing to be as honest with themselves and others as possible. Let's work on a blueprint to follow for these school-by-school breakdowns (please offer your suggestions):

I. The Program

A. Funding
i. Specifically how many people out of the total number are funded, and exactly how much, all told, do they get? Are there any bonuses or fees that add or subtract from this sum?
ii. Health insurance? If so, what kind of coverage?
iii. Is there a graduate student union, and if so, how active are they in pursuing the student's interests?
iv. Does it seem that the program is financially secure? Does it seem that money is simply not a concern?

B. Climate
i. Give an honest, brief evaluation of the overall climate of the program. How does it stand in regard to other programs you may know of?
ii. Good Faculty. Any great teachers and mentors? Who will work to get you published?
iii. Bad Faculty. Who is a dead weight, a total disappointment, and/or an unavailable name?
iv. Is there strife among the professors? A division past, present, or impending? Who does not get along with who?
v. When you look your professors in the eyes, do you really believe that they care? Who are these professors?
vi. Among students, is there a clear hierarchy (usually determined by funding)? Is it reinforced by awards (monetary and titular)? Is it tolerable?
vii. How about the workshops? Are they the best you've ever had? Are they a total waste of time? Hellish, nirvana-inducing, lifeless, electric?
viii. How would you rate the intellectual capacity of your peers?
ix. What portion of them do you really respect as writers?
x. How many of them do you hang out with on a regular basis? How many can you simply not stand?
xi. How diverse is the student body of the program, really? What about your peers' economic background?
xii. Is there an irritating dynamic peculiar to this program? Anything especially wonderful that isn't easily discernible and/or not usually noted?

C. General Direction of Program
i. How is the program regarded within the university? Is it omnipotent, inviolable, unassailable? Is it marginal? Is it the university's dog or its crown jewel? Is the university rather like a passing tuna, and simply indifferent to the piece of driftwood otherwise known as the program?
ii. Where do you see this program going? Is it teetering on its last legs, puttering along on the fumes of past glory? Is it wildly promising? Is it really going to ascend into the glorious ether and blow up the next US News ranking like the program's website would lead you to believe? When you look around you, do you really think your peers are destined for literary greatness? Does everyone believe in and love the program? Are the professors and students gutturally invested in it, or just leaning on it for a paycheck or a prestigious degree?
iii. Does the program care about its alums? Do you sense that your professors and peers will still care about you after your degree has been minted?
iv. Would you rather have attended another program? Any regrets?


That was all I could think of, for now. I am hoping that we can compile an online handbook of all MFA programs out of candid, anonymous reviews. This way, those who have been admitted can know these things without having to risk annoying or indiscreet questioning, and potential applicants can better narrow down which schools they will apply to.

(This post was edited by guidedvoices on Feb 5, 2008, 7:05 PM)


malber


Feb 5, 2008, 2:22 PM

Post #37 of 104 (5097 views)
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i'll tell anyone anything they want to know about my program (ohio state). are there questions that haven't been addressed? the brass tacks, as it were?


MissEsquire



Feb 5, 2008, 4:36 PM

Post #38 of 104 (5054 views)
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Can we also talk about which schools offer health insurance? I grew up in Canada and am used to most health-related things being free. What kind of things does student coverage actually cover? If I don't have American insurance before moving down to the States, does that mean that no expenses pertaining to treatment of my bad foot would be covered? Yikes.

Anyway, do we have a list of schools that offer insurance? Or do they all offer it?


(This post was edited by MissEsquire on Feb 5, 2008, 4:46 PM)


malber


Feb 5, 2008, 6:03 PM

Post #39 of 104 (5024 views)
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Here's what I know:

most schools offer no health insurance. that is, they won't fully fund it. many (if not most) will pay for some... and the degree to which they pay is WIDELY variable. at Ohio State, we have one of the better deals: we are required to have insurance (some schools don't require it), but the university pays 85% of the the costs. Thus, each month, for me AND my wife, I pay somewhere around $80. This is not bad... though I should note that there are always stipulations for when preexisting medical conditions will be covered... i think my copay on doctor's visits is like $25 or so.

As for stipends:

I live off the OSU stipend in conjunction with my wife's (very modest) salary. i'm on fellowship, which means that i have all my tuition paid for and i get close to $1200/month for the full year (all 12 months)... that's counting the amount taken out for insurance. it's not much, but rent is reasonable in columbus and you can certainly get by without a car (though it can be tough). HOWEVER, that's not taking out taxes... OSU doesn't take out taxes for fellows (though it does for GAs). the GA situation is similar, with similar amounts coming in... however they aren't paid all 12 months (just during the school year, while they're teaching).

any other questions?


lovesapricots


Feb 9, 2008, 9:04 PM

Post #40 of 104 (4923 views)
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Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi everyone,
I'm a long time reader on the Speakeasy, but haven't posted before. I write nonfiction, and have applied to 7 programs for next year.

I just finished filling out my FAFSA and Needs Access forms for Columbia. I was hoping to get some feedback on what other people think of Columbia's funding situation. I know it has elicited some strong reactions and posts in the past. I'm posting because I'm quite honestly having a hard time reconciling my admiration for the program with the dismal funding situation. There are a number of excellent nonfiction programs, but I feel like the faculty at Columbia are pretty exceptional. My (very general) sense is that the faculty are unhappy about the financial aid situation--I've read interviews with Ben Marcus where he has referenced the loss of really stellar potential students in the past due to lack of support.

No, calls haven't gone out--so this is just a hypothetical question. And I think ultimately it's something people can only answer for themselves. But I'd love to hear what other people think with specific regard to the Columbia program--and maybe even more specifically nonfiction, because there are far fewer nonfiction programs, and only a handful with a nonfiction department as opposed to a concentration(Iowa and Columbia, from what I know--anyone else know of others?) Many programs mentioned that do offer full/partial funding for nonfiction students (OSU, Montana, Minn) are excellent programs, but may only have a few nonfiction professors.

Thoughts, anyone? I feel like it can't be too long before Columbia realizes in order to keep their reputation--which has already suffered as a result of lack of $$--something will have to change. Overly optimistic?


DMiller


Feb 9, 2008, 10:07 PM

Post #41 of 104 (4904 views)
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My thoughts are unless I somehow get a very generous funding package from Columbia, I'm not going there. I applied on the off-chance it happens this year, but I'm not expecting it by any means.


BLUECHEESE


Feb 9, 2008, 10:21 PM

Post #42 of 104 (4897 views)
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I think, even if they only have a couple of non-fiction profs--so long as they only accept a few acceptional students--you will have a great time in the program.

Also, make sure you see what kinds of other classes you can take that might be important to your development as a nonfiction writer... such as literary courses on nonfiction and literary essays. Workshop, I think, comes down mostly to self-reliance and a bit of affect from peers/faculty. They'll push you, but so long as you have someone that will push you, I think you'll be alright. Quality not Quantity wins out, I think. If you get some acceptances--visit the places, see what former students have published, see if you like the faculty and think you'll get along with them, etc.


ejdifili
Emily

Feb 10, 2008, 4:21 PM

Post #43 of 104 (4819 views)
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As for Columbia, I guess it depends on your financial situation. I didn't apply there because I am currently a high school teacher and recognize that I will probably return to that profession after completing my MFA. On my salary, it would likely take the rest of my life to pay off $60,000-plus in student loans, not to mention the significant debt I'd incur just living in or near Manhattan.

If you have some means of covering this cost, then I guess it would be a pretty amazing program to attend. In my opinion, you could be just as successful a writer studying somewhere else that actually offers funding.


malber


Feb 11, 2008, 8:49 AM

Post #44 of 104 (4741 views)
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agreed. totally.

i'm sure it's a good program. i'm SURE it is. but i would not ever go there because they don't respect their students if they expect them to enter the real world (that is, the world in which an MFA means nothing, earns you nothing) with that much debt when SO SO many equally good schools (yes, equally good) offer full funding and more.

but it's hard not to be swayed by the siren song of the faculty. here's a hint, though: the faculty's famousness and publishing record (and the former student's publishing record to some extent) doesn't necessarily translate into a nice set of credentials of your own. Your writing does.


umass76


Feb 11, 2008, 2:51 PM

Post #45 of 104 (4684 views)
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Malber,
Hi! Actually, I did have a quick question about OSU: can you tell me--because I've heard mixed accounts on this--whether OSU is a "guaranteed full-funding" school (i.e., whether everyone has either a TAship or fellowship w/ full tuition remission and some kind of stipend)? Or is it merely that most do, but not all, and it's not guaranteed?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide. Take care,
Seth


umass76


Feb 11, 2008, 3:10 PM

Post #46 of 104 (4673 views)
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Malber,
Hi! Actually, I did have a quick question about OSU: can you tell me--because I've heard mixed accounts on this--whether OSU is a "guaranteed full-funding" school (i.e., whether everyone has either a TAship or fellowship w/ full tuition remission and some kind of stipend)? Or is it merely that most do, but not all, and it's not guaranteed?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide. Take care,
Seth


malber


Feb 11, 2008, 7:13 PM

Post #47 of 104 (4615 views)
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Hey Seth,

Everyone at OSU has funding, either fellowship or GA position. Most GA positions are teaching, but there are also two paid GA positions editing The Journal (one fiction, one poetry). And everyone gets a chance to teach both composition and creative writing (as well as potentially teaching a class of your own design).

Hope this helps.

best,
Mike


umass76


Feb 12, 2008, 11:03 PM

Post #48 of 104 (4538 views)
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Mike,

Excellent! Thanks so much for the info. I'd thought OSU was a fully-funded financial aid package, but the website was a little unclear, so I really appreciate the clarification. Take care,

Seth


blarring


Feb 16, 2008, 10:16 PM

Post #49 of 104 (4473 views)
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Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I have applied to ten MFA programs for fiction, and I have absolutely no desire to teach. When I filled out my applications, there was a question on all (or almost all) of them asking something like: if you are not offered any financial assistance or a TAship, will you still be interested in attending? I said yes, which I hoped would be to my advantage. I have, however, filled out a FAFSA.
But, here is my question to you: could this lack of interest in teaching or funding hurt my chances of getting into a program?
I didn't think it would, but now I'm second-guessing everything like everybody else at this waiting stage. Stupidly, I looked back over my SOP. Now I'm worried I didn't sound "goal-oriented" enough because I don't want to teach and that this will give me a disadvantage. I guess I'm just hoping that my writing will be the biggest factor.

Thanks,



B. Lynn Arrington
"A Southerner talks music." --Mark Twain



BLUECHEESE


Feb 16, 2008, 10:19 PM

Post #50 of 104 (4471 views)
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Well, if you don't get in this round, you may want to emphasize your desire to work on an editorial staff at the program's lit mag. (and apply to programs that have funding via this means)

Basically, if you want to be funded, it is either teaching or working on a jouranal (with a few exceptions)


FaceMcdougal


Mar 9, 2008, 8:34 AM

Post #51 of 104 (5925 views)
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Does anyone have any advice on negotiation and leveraging offers to enhance stipend packages? I have a friend who went to UH for poetry and she claims 1) she was able to use a pair of other acceptances to negotiate a higher stipend and 2) this is not an uncommon practice. Does anyone know how much validity there is to this? And if so, any advice on how to go about getting your way in negotiation?


green sneakers

e-mail user

Mar 9, 2008, 5:10 PM

Post #52 of 104 (5838 views)
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I don't think this is uncommon. Be a bulldog. Fight for whatever you think you deserve. If a program can't give you that, then they can't. But most places won't offer you a bigger slice of their probably-already-strained resources if they think you'd be just as happy to attend without. I'm not saying you have to be mean or belligerent about it, but being firm and professional in standing up for yourself and what you need can often yield a better deal than being all sunshine and agreeable can.


lesliep


Mar 15, 2008, 4:10 PM

Post #53 of 104 (5709 views)
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I was wondering if this time of recession will hurt MFA programs and the amount of financial aid that they're able to provide? Has anyone currently in a MFA program heard anything or have you lost any funding due to the current economy?

I'm going to be applying for fall 09 programs, but the current economical situation has me a little worried that I won't be able to get funding or even loans (if it came to that, although I'll probably not attend if I have to go into debt to do it).

If there are any moonlighting economists on the board, maybe you could give some advice.


jaywalke


Mar 15, 2008, 8:33 PM

Post #54 of 104 (5639 views)
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In Reply To
I was wondering if this time of recession will hurt MFA programs and the amount of financial aid that they're able to provide? Has anyone currently in a MFA program heard anything or have you lost any funding due to the current economy?


(I'm not an economist, but I did write about a Holiday Inn Express last night, and I've sat in a lot of Board of Trustee meetings.)

Most (not all) scholarship/fellowship money is endowed, which means it isn't going anywhere. It's invested in bonds and perhaps some boring blue-chip stocks to fight inflation. The usual assumed return is 5% per year, which is so conservative (the stock market has averaged 10% for its entire existence) that the whole economy would likely have to implode before it would need to change. We aren't talking recession, more like a second Great Depression.

The things that will shrink are yearly budgets. They're affected by state appropriations and inflation. Schools have to pay bills and buy things just like the rest of us, and if food and electricity cost more it sucks all around. Departments will have less money for staff, supplies, travel, adjuncts, those shiny guest artists, etc. Vacant spots may be left vacant for another year. Maintenance may be done only as necessary.

Even the well-funded and famous get pinched. I work now in a research institute that averages $16-20 million per year in grant money, and we are cutting corners.


lesliep


Mar 16, 2008, 12:29 AM

Post #55 of 104 (5593 views)
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Thanks, jaywalke. That's good to know that at least tuition funding won't be cut. Maybe by the time I start in fall 09 (here's hopin'), the economy will start coming back again.


SaraBellum


Mar 16, 2008, 1:39 PM

Post #56 of 104 (5534 views)
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Hi all,

I've got a question and this seemed like the best thread for it. I was accepted to a program this year with full funding and a large stipend. However, the school is in a pretty expensive area, and I don't really know about what opportunities for supplementary income I'll have once school starts this fall. (If I go to this program...I'm still waiting on several other, very silent programs!)

Anyhow, my question is, do most people who get full funding and stipends STILL take out student loans as a safety net for their two or three year program? I'm curious about the ups and downs of this...it seems like taking a student loan on top of full funding couldn't really *hurt* you, especially a good loan with a low interest rate, etc. But of course, I'm clueless about that sort of thing.


ALSO! (I know I said "a question" but I just thought of another one!) I'm a freelance writer, and while the paperwork to sign for my $$ offer didn't mention anything about work, I know that some fellowships prohibit a student from working, outside of their TAship or whatever is required in the agreement. My program only requires teaching in the last two semesters. The first two semesters require tutoring and a teaching practicum course. It seems I'll have time to still freelance some, but I don't know how that effects the TAship or the fellowship.


Sorry for being longwinded. An answer at any part of this post will be helpful :)


---------





ejdifili
Emily

Mar 16, 2008, 2:25 PM

Post #57 of 104 (5515 views)
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In Reply To


ALSO! (I know I said "a question" but I just thought of another one!) I'm a freelance writer, and while the paperwork to sign for my $$ offer didn't mention anything about work, I know that some fellowships prohibit a student from working, outside of their TAship or whatever is required in the agreement. My program only requires teaching in the last two semesters. The first two semesters require tutoring and a teaching practicum course. It seems I'll have time to still freelance some, but I don't know how that effects the TAship or the fellowship.


I was wondering about this too, and would be interested in hearing about other people's experiences.

When I did my MA in Spanish lit at Wash U St. Louis, they strictly prohibited students from having outside jobs. Like, if they found out you had part-time work somewhere, they could take away your fellowship. I never heard of this actually happening, but we were prohibited and warned very explicitly by the dean. To be honest, I never had any time for outside work anyway, because we would take a full-time course load in addition to teaching multiple days a week. There were some people who would just secretly work someplace far from the university, though.


writerteacher


Mar 16, 2008, 4:22 PM

Post #58 of 104 (5479 views)
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Hey there --

Congratulations on your offer! I can tell you a little of my own experience, and what some of the other students in my program have done... all anecdotal, of course.

I'm in my second semester of a three-year MFA program. I filled out the FAFSA (in order to be considered for funding) but when I was offered a TA-ship, I went cold turkey and did not accept the financial aid. My offer included a modest stipend ($11k) and full tuition waiver in return for 20 hours per week (give or take) tutoring and assisting in a large undergrad gen-ed English class. (TAs are offered teaching and/or editing assignments in years two and three.) I have to be registered for at least nine hours per semester to be considered full-time and retain my assistantship; I pay for fees, books, etc., which comes to about $900 per semester.

I'd saved a few thousand dollars before starting, thinking it would get me over the hump (not to mention utter shock) of a precipitous decline in income. Silly me!

The fact is that my stipend puts me squarely under the poverty line, as do, I believe, stipends offered by most MFA programs. If I hadn't had my several-thousand-dollar pad and a credit card (ugh), I'd be hosed.

Neither I nor any other TA in my program, to my knowledge, works another job, in part because it's prohibited, but also because there's just no time. We're all screaming busy with teaching, tutoring, editing, reading for awards, going to readings, doing readings, planning visiting writer events, and God knows, class work. Oh! And there's that other thing... the reason we're busting our asses like this to begin with... When we're not in class or working or meeting or reading, we're writing.

I seriously underestimated how much time writing would take. Isn't that absurd? But the more I learn in workshop and lit classes (and by tutoring and teaching), the more careful I become with what I put out there. Maybe careful isn't the right word. Thoughtful, or maybe attentive. (Clenched? Ack!) Anyway, whereas I used to grind out a 15 page fiction in a week or two, I'm finding the first draft coming faster now but the revision process taking much longer, and before I know it a month has gone by and I'm still working it.

So. Yeah. Starving artist and all. But writing is why I'm in school to begin with, and if I work every spare minute, I'll never write (much less pull together a reasonable thesis and actually graduate).

My plan is to charge the hell out of freelance clients this summer (I'm lucky to have that option) and save double what I did last year going into next year. I'll also apply for second and third year fellowships, which pay a bit more than a stipend and may require fewer TA hours, if any.

There are one or two fellow first-years whose parents are helping them (they're fresh out of undergrad). There are others who are married, as I am, and so not entirely dependent on the stipend, although, geez, you don't want your whole family on the dole because you're following your artist's heart, right? (I have a preschooler, too.) The great majority of students in my program simply scrimped and saved and scrambled to make it work... and are actively looking for paying residencies if not lucrative "real jobs" for the summer. I'm not aware of anyone who took out loans, or plans to, though maybe I should and give my credit card a rest.

I don't know anyone who isn't loving it. It's hard, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Long response, sorry. (Not so thoughtful or attentive as I hope my fiction is becoming.) Hope it helps.

Good luck!

WT


(This post was edited by writerteacher on Mar 16, 2008, 4:25 PM)


annie0


Mar 16, 2008, 4:43 PM

Post #59 of 104 (5459 views)
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Thanks for your input, writerteacher! It was in fact very thoughtful. And helpful!


ejdifili
Emily

Mar 16, 2008, 8:55 PM

Post #60 of 104 (5384 views)
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In Reply To

Neither I nor any other TA in my program, to my knowledge, works another job, in part because it's prohibited, but also because there's just no time. We're all screaming busy with teaching, tutoring, editing, reading for awards, going to readings, doing readings, planning visiting writer events, and God knows, class work. Oh! And there's that other thing... the reason we're busting our asses like this to begin with... When we're not in class or working or meeting or reading, we're writing.

So. Yeah. Starving artist and all. But writing is why I'm in school to begin with, and if I work every spare minute, I'll never write (much less pull together a reasonable thesis and actually graduate).

I definitely see your point, Writerteacher. Last year, I elected not to take a part-time job while studying at the Iowa Summer Writers' Workshop. I'm glad I didn't, because I was able to devote ALL my time to reading, writing and enjoying the literary community in Iowa City. It was only a summer though, so it wasn't too much of a financial hardship for me. Personally, I will be unable to attend any graduate program that doesn't offer me at least a $10K teaching stipend. I know that's still poverty level, but I have been saving up for years in preparation for this experience. I feel like, as long as I work in the summers and make a few bucks then, I should be able to pull this off without incurring too much serious debt. I also agree, though, that it's not the greatest idea to try to take on some b.s. part-time job while in graduate school. Those I knew who did that while we were working on our Spanish lit MA ended up spreading themselves too thin and ultimately dropping the ball in matters of classwork and teaching. Still, I guess it just depends on how heavy your workload is. Wash U was pretty demanding, and also everything was in Spanish (not my first language) so all the work took me twice as long as it did native speakers.


calumnia


Mar 17, 2008, 2:56 AM

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I'd like to post the opposing opinion to writerteacher: it is quite possible to work during the term.

I am in my last year of a 4 year B.FA in Creative Writing. It is workshop intensive and of my own volition I am focusing on two genres instead of one which means twice as much writing/workshopping. Aside from my five classes: I am the poetry editor of my program's literary journal, I have a gradership in a first year class, I work part time as a librarian and I write content for the department's website.

I'm partially funded by scholarships, and my summer savings covers the rest of my tuition but I need to make enough working part time to cover my monthly expenses and rent. It makes for a very busy school term but for those of you with tuition waivers and stipends who are worried about living on the stipend (and whose fellowships allow for part time work), working part time a few hours a week is definitely doable. I schedule my library hours at the time of day when I am too exhausted to write and the diversity in my day helps me focus when I sit down to work.

Granted, this is an undergrad program but the workshops are a mixture of fourth year students and grad students and I put just as much work into my writing as I will when I'm in my M.FA Workshops are what you put into them. A lot of the non-writing workload depends on the size of the workshop. A larger workshop means more editing of classmates' work, which can be time consuming.


SaraBellum


Mar 17, 2008, 9:22 AM

Post #62 of 104 (5297 views)
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Hey,

Thanks all for your input on this! I guess I'm in the same boat... I'm looking at a very good stipend.. >15k, but also in an expensive area. I doubt I'll be able to hold a separate job during the semesters, unless it's very light freelance work for the company I already write for. I'm probably looking at working my tail off all summer and saving for the semesters.

I guess since there is no stipulation about outside work noted in the paperwork, I should probably just come right out and ask. Does anyone else feel hesitant to call their program or email with questions? It seems as soon as I shoot off the email, I suddenly have six more questions.

:-)

Thanks everyone!!


---------





SaraBellum


Mar 17, 2008, 9:27 AM

Post #63 of 104 (5290 views)
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Writerteacher:

Also, a personal thanks for the time you took to answer my question with your personal experience. Wow! I have so many questions. I guess that one of the first questions I'll ask to students at my offer-program is..."How much time do you have to write?" I know that's often the #1 complaint about an MFA program.

I'm interested in what you said about needing more time to write, in that you felt the increasing need to be extremely careful about what you put out there. Can you elaborate on that? Do you mean that you were surrounded by excellent writers and therefore were concerned with the quality of your ever word? Or...that you were afraid to experiment within the workshop? At first read, I gathered that you were treating the change in your writing "habits" as a positive thing...is that correct?
I guess the reason I'm asking is that I specifically applied to programs this year where I felt I would be encouraged to experiment a little...The last thing I want is to be streamlined in a workshop, or forced into a severely rigid writing style. (I'm definitely not implying that that's what happened to you...I'd just love to hear more about the change your writing endured because of the MFA)

Whew. Long-winded, scatterbrained, and it's only Monday.


---------





writerteacher


Mar 17, 2008, 10:50 AM

Post #64 of 104 (5246 views)
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In Reply To
I'm interested in what you said about needing more time to write, in that you felt the increasing need to be extremely careful about what you put out there. Can you elaborate on that? Do you mean that you were surrounded by excellent writers and therefore were concerned with the quality of your ever word? Or...that you were afraid to experiment within the workshop? At first read, I gathered that you were treating the change in your writing "habits" as a positive thing...is that correct?

I guess the reason I'm asking is that I specifically applied to programs this year where I felt I would be encouraged to experiment a little...The last thing I want is to be streamlined in a workshop, or forced into a severely rigid writing style.


Hey, SaraBellum!

Good questions. I don't feel *at all* self-conscious about turning in crap (I do it often!). I attribute this in large part to the full funding scene. We don't feel competitive against each other, except artistically, I suppose, meaning we challenge each other to do more, do better, but we *definitely* don't compete with each other for instructors' attention, approval, or funding.

I don't intentionally turn in crap, by the way; I just realize it's crap well after the fact, after I've workshopped it and revised it and sat on it a while.

Yes, I do feel encouraged and free to experiment in Workshop, absolutely. Part of it is that there are several writers whose styles/voices are so distinct (in the best way)... I am going through the classic "struggle to find my voice" (yik) and having them as a resource for feedback and ideas as I develop this evolving piece is really inspiring. The result is that I flail more than I used to, because I know more about what's possible.

The opposite works, too; I learn as much, if not more, from writers in the program whose stuff I don't like, or don't think works. Finding out what I don't want to do is just as enlightening, and helps me be more deliberate when I start a new piece.

The other part of it is that studying craft -- the nuts and bolts -- has given me more freedom 'cause suddenly I have more crayons in my toybox. I'm gaining control of the subtleties that I used to blow right by. It's kind of like studying grammar; I have an ear for language and so never really bothered to study mechanics, since I was doing just fine. When I did study grammar, finally, it slowed me down temporarily because I had this new dynamic, a new voice in my head as I wrote that I consciously listened to. With practice, though, and in pretty short order, I internalized the rules of grammar and my writing became that much stronger.

Lord, it *is* Monday morning, isn't it?

So, my evolving writing process is actually a result of having more options; the more I study, the more I know, the more I can apply and the more control I ultimately have. Certainly a good thing, I think.

And what this has to do with financing is this: I'm already working more than fulltime, between course load and TAship. It's a vastly different kind of busy from undergrad (I have a BFA); it calls for intense, sustained focus. Maybe some superheroes with lots of room in their big brains can manage to hold outside jobs, but I can't imagine doing it *and getting out of the program what I came here for*. At this moment in my writing life, I need blocks of time to ruminate, write, and rewrite. I can't do it on the fly; I don't want to do it on the fly, that's what I've been doing for years. I see my pittance as the cost of "buying" that kind of focus time. (If I can string a couple of hours together on a Thursday morning, for example, I'm flying.)

Let me say, too, that it's taken a great deal of self-control, which isn't typically part of my repertoire, to turn down freelance clients. My God, it's tempting! Especially when we're struggling to pay the (gulp) heating bill. But I know myself; if I take an assignment I'll resent the hell out of the hours I put in, and get prickly and generally unpleasant, and it'll take me that much longer to write what I have to write for Workshop, never mind all the other stuff I want to write. I don't want to hate work, hate clients, hate school, and misbehave toward my family, and that's what would happen if I tried to work more than I am already.

MFA grads often talk about the exponential development they made as writers while in their programs. That's what I was looking for, and that's what I'm getting -- but for me, it takes sustained focus, which is pricey, but really feels luxurious.

Man, I'm lucky to be able to do this!

Ramble ramble, gotta split, hope this helps, thanks for the kind words, I'll answer more questions if you have them, good luck, peace!

WT


writerteacher


Mar 17, 2008, 7:53 PM

Post #65 of 104 (5153 views)
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In Reply To
It makes for a very busy school term but for those of you with tuition waivers and stipends who are worried about living on the stipend (and whose fellowships allow for part time work), working part time a few hours a week is definitely doable.

<snip>

A lot of the non-writing workload depends on the size of the workshop. A larger workshop means more editing of classmates' work, which can be time consuming.


Hi, Calumnia --

Wow, I admire your energy! It's interesting to hear how people cobble together sufficient resources.

Just to be clear for others who're reading (and trying to make sense of) this thread, a TA-ship is different from a stipend, which is different from a scholarship, which is different from a fellowship, which is different from a tuition waiver.

Which boggles, but affords myriad opportunities.

For instance, some programs offer Teaching Assistantships with stipends (a small salary, perhaps health insurance). Some programs offer Teaching Assistantships with a tuition waiver but no stipend. Some offer no TA-ship but either partial or full tuition remission. Etc.

Some TA-ships are indeed for teaching, but some assignments have to do with literary publishing, working as a tutor in a writing center, or other responsibilities.

In my program, all TA-ships come with a stipend; it's also possible to get a merit-based fellowship through the CW program in addition to a TA-ship that affords additional perks; to confuse the matter further, the Graduate School awards some merit-based fellowships that require no teaching or editing responsibilities.

All that to say, when I applied to the program I used the words stipend, TA-ship, and fellowship interchangeably, but learned they are, at least in the program I attend, separate entities.

And I hear you about the size of workshops. I think the larger ones, even at "big" programs, tend to max out at 12 or 15 students. I've never been in a class with more than 12, and most of them are about 9, so manageable. This year's novel workshop has six participants; I hope those low numbers hold next year, 'cause novel workshop, here I come!

Cheers and good luck,
WT


reality writes


Mar 26, 2008, 1:44 PM

Post #66 of 104 (5031 views)
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grants & scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

A lot on this thread is about applying to schools with full funding and working for schools/TAships to get some tuition reduced. All great ideas, but my question is, are there any national organizations that offer grants or scholarships for MFA students? Are there any support lines off campus, and ones that don't necessarily involve being committed to a post-graduate career or travel?


aiyamei

e-mail user

Mar 26, 2008, 3:47 PM

Post #67 of 104 (4977 views)
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Re: [reality writes] grants & scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

Check out your undergraduate institution. I know that mine offers fellowships for graduate study to a select few of its alumni. You have to remember to apply for it about the same time that you're applying to the graduate program though or you won't have the money in time.


ksy79


Mar 31, 2008, 6:37 PM

Post #68 of 104 (4843 views)
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Negotiating the Financial Aid Package [In reply to] Can't Post

There's been talk here and there of package negotiations. I'm pretty sure Tom Kealey wrote about it on his blog at one point, but I can't find the post. (I just posted a similar comment on his blog, too).

Anyone thinking of trying to negotiate a better financial aid package? How would one approach the matter? Who would I contact? Am I crazy to try and do this? I'm an awful negotiator; I'm terribly, terribly awkward.

Thanks!


pareidolia


Apr 9, 2008, 8:04 PM

Post #69 of 104 (4712 views)
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Re: [darredet] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

So, does SFSU offer any funding ever? I noticed their websites mentions a couple $500 fellowships. What about TAships, etc...?


oenologist


Jun 9, 2008, 6:16 PM

Post #70 of 104 (4578 views)
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scholarships?? [In reply to] Can't Post

so I looked through this thread and some others but maybe some of you MFA veterans can help...

I was accepted to BU for playwrighting this year, but alas did not receive quite as much funding as I'd hoped. While clearly loans are an option, I was wondering if there were any independent scholarships which I could apply to?

I have searched the net and have found nothing bar the extraordinarily silly (e.g., left handers scholarship and the "take-a-pic-of-your-shoe" scholarship)

Are there any grants/scholarships etc that you know of? Where might I begin my search (that's not google)

merci!
-c


gcsumfa


Jun 16, 2008, 11:36 PM

Post #71 of 104 (4454 views)
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Re: [oenologist] scholarships?? [In reply to] Can't Post

If anyone is looking for pt work while attending an MFA or PhD program, esp. those w/ prior teaching experience or an MA, look up "Smarthinking." It's an online tutoring service that hires folks w/ teaching experience (and at least 18 graduate hours) to tutor undergrads online; the service is open 24-7 (save for a few holidays), which means shifts can be scheduled whenever you want, for the most part. You work at home, from your computer. As expected, the writing center is the busiest--meaning they're always looking to add writing teachers. It would be difficult for anyone to really find out about this job (though a lot of grad directors don't care and totally understand the need for more money), since you'd be working the shifts at home, in your PJ's, at a time that works best for you...pay is 11/hour. I made 4-5K last year, which goes a long way for someone living on a grad stipend.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Jun 16, 2008, 11:39 PM)


gcsumfa


Jun 16, 2008, 11:48 PM

Post #72 of 104 (4450 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] scholarships?? [In reply to] Can't Post

Matter of fact, here's a recent ad on Chronicle of Higher Ed:

http://chronicle.com/...-01&pg=s&cc=


Vesuvia


Jun 20, 2008, 9:17 PM

Post #73 of 104 (4350 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] scholarships?? [In reply to] Can't Post

gcsumfa, I just sent you a PM about this, but then I realized others might want to know. Can you give us an idea of how much the Smarthinking hourly wage is? Can't find that info on their website. Thanks.


gcsumfa


Jun 20, 2008, 11:10 PM

Post #74 of 104 (4339 views)
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In Reply To
gcsumfa, I just sent you a PM about this, but then I realized others might want to know. Can you give us an idea of how much the Smarthinking hourly wage is? Can't find that info on their website. Thanks.


Sure; it's $11 per hour. I usually work 12-15 hours per week in the fall, spring, and part of the summer and end up making 4-5K a year.


Raysen


Aug 5, 2008, 8:17 PM

Post #75 of 104 (4212 views)
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Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a question no one has asked (for good reason). Let's say you can afford the tuition, fees, books, and cost of living to do an MFA program. Let's say you only applied to schools that offered full funding to all their students (e.g., Virginia, Texas, Cornell, Indiana) and let's say you got accepted at one of these schools.

How will these schools handle your situation? Will they NOT offer you full funding?

This is just a hypothetical, but a hypothetical I'm curious about for personal reasons I won't go into.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 5, 2008, 8:19 PM

Post #76 of 104 (6311 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't imagine you wouldn't still get funding. Most funding at MFA programs is about merit, not need.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Aug 5, 2008, 8:20 PM)


Raysen


Aug 5, 2008, 8:24 PM

Post #77 of 104 (6304 views)
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In Reply To
I can't imagine you wouldn't still get funding.



That's interesting. I sort of assumed the opposite would be the case. If the program somehow got hold of your financial info (and I wouldn't know one way or the other how because I haven't gone through the MFA application process yet), they may ask if you could afford school without the funding so that they can make room for one more student.

That also raises another question and that is, would a program offer more than their allocated seats if the excess applicants are rich and can pay their own way? For example, Cornell normally takes in four fiction writers. If they knew a promising applicant could afford their schooling, would they offer five, with one of them not getting any funding? I mean, it won't hurt Cornell's pocket or endowment at all.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Aug 5, 2008, 8:25 PM)


Yugao


Aug 5, 2008, 8:26 PM

Post #78 of 104 (6301 views)
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In Reply To
I have a question no one has asked (for good reason). Let's say you can afford the tuition, fees, books, and cost of living to do an MFA program. Let's say you only applied to schools that offered full funding to all their students (e.g., Virginia, Texas, Cornell, Indiana) and let's say you got accepted at one of these schools.

How will these schools handle your situation? Will they NOT offer you full funding?

This is just a hypothetical, but a hypothetical I'm curious about for personal reasons I won't go into.


I was admitted at UF, The Michener Center, and was on the waitlist at Virginia before I removed myself. Obviously, these are all full funding situations, but my financial status was not an issue. I am not rich, but I do have (non-liquid) assets that would be sufficient to pay for an MFA degree. That fact didn't matter because these are all merit-based fellowship programs. Fellowships aren't allotted according to financial need.


(This post was edited by Yugao on Aug 5, 2008, 8:28 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 5, 2008, 8:35 PM

Post #79 of 104 (6292 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

Raysen:

You have to think that funding works a few ways. Most funding is really a job. You are paid to be a teacher or a teaching assistant. I suppose in that case you might be able to turn down the job if there are only a few spots, but no one is going to teach for free. A lot of other funding is endowments earmarked for funding students based on merit... can't really be used another way. Plus, funding is about luring people to your program over another.

if you got into two programs you really wanted to go to and one gave you funding while the other didn't, even if you are rich you will go to the funded place (if the programs are equal in your mind at least).


Yugao


Aug 5, 2008, 8:47 PM

Post #80 of 104 (6284 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

I should have said that some are merit-based fellowship programs and that others do require teaching and are funded that way in combination with fellowships. But most MFA funding isn't really need-based.


gcsumfa


Aug 5, 2008, 8:58 PM

Post #81 of 104 (6275 views)
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In Reply To

In Reply To
I can't imagine you wouldn't still get funding.



That's interesting. I sort of assumed the opposite would be the case. If the program somehow got hold of your financial info (and I wouldn't know one way or the other how because I haven't gone through the MFA application process yet), they may ask if you could afford school without the funding so that they can make room for one more student.

That also raises another question and that is, would a program offer more than their allocated seats if the excess applicants are rich and can pay their own way? For example, Cornell normally takes in four fiction writers. If they knew a promising applicant could afford their schooling, would they offer five, with one of them not getting any funding? I mean, it won't hurt Cornell's pocket or endowment at all.


As others have said, you should think of most MFA funding as a job; it's not really need-based, so your income level is irrelevant, because in order for you to receive the funding, you will have to work as a TA, editor, or in the writing center. You'll sign a contract to receive this funding in return for working 20 hours per week.


gcsumfa


Aug 5, 2008, 9:34 PM

Post #82 of 104 (6263 views)
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In Reply To
For example, Cornell normally takes in four fiction writers. If they knew a promising applicant could afford their schooling, would they offer five, with one of them not getting any funding? I mean, it won't hurt Cornell's pocket or endowment at all.


For a program like Cornell, I don't think this strategy would improve your chances of admission. A program like Cornell receives so many applications and can have the pick of the litter that they're not going to have time to figure out if they can admit an extra person w/ out funding. Also, keep in mind that many of these programs still need to fill TA lines---someone has to teach freshman composition. They will want to fill those lines before doing anything else.

Your strategy might work at a smaller, lesser known program, but even then, the program would still likely want to fill its TA lines first.

Pedagogy and editorial work is a big part of the MFA experience at most residential programs; if you have the money and aren't interested in this aspect of the residential MFA experience, you might be a better fit at a low-res program.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Aug 5, 2008, 9:35 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 5, 2008, 9:44 PM

Post #83 of 104 (6257 views)
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Quote

Pedagogy and editorial work is a big part of the MFA experience at most residential programs; if you have the money and aren't interested in this aspect of the residential MFA experience, you might be a better fit at a low-res program


I dunno about that. There are plenty of programs that do not require TAingh freshman comp or doing editorial work. Especially with the scenario laid out here (someone with enough money they don't mind paying). No program that asks you to pay tuition forces you to be a TA. And even beyond that there are a few programs that fully fund with real fellowships, no job attached.


ejdifili
Emily

Aug 5, 2008, 10:08 PM

Post #84 of 104 (6254 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have a question no one has asked (for good reason). Let's say you can afford the tuition, fees, books, and cost of living to do an MFA program. Let's say you only applied to schools that offered full funding to all their students (e.g., Virginia, Texas, Cornell, Indiana) and let's say you got accepted at one of these schools.

How will these schools handle your situation? Will they NOT offer you full funding?

This is just a hypothetical, but a hypothetical I'm curious about for personal reasons I won't go into.



My impression is that most universities who offer funding to MFA candidates do so on the basis of merit, not need. There could be exceptions, but personally, I was never asked to give proof of my income or assets.


gcsumfa


Aug 5, 2008, 10:11 PM

Post #85 of 104 (6252 views)
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In Reply To

Quote

Pedagogy and editorial work is a big part of the MFA experience at most residential programs; if you have the money and aren't interested in this aspect of the residential MFA experience, you might be a better fit at a low-res program


I dunno about that. There are plenty of programs that do not require TAingh freshman comp or doing editorial work. Especially with the scenario laid out here (someone with enough money they don't mind paying). No program that asks you to pay tuition forces you to be a TA. And even beyond that there are a few programs that fully fund with real fellowships, no job attached.


I didn't intend to imply that programs "force one to TA," more than that many programs have TA lines to fill. However, perhaps I overstated my point; either way, it seems like the OP was interested in how this might increase his or her chances of being admitted to a prestigious program more than anything else--I don't think it will.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 5, 2008, 10:13 PM

Post #86 of 104 (6250 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with your last point.

I thought your earlier post might have been read to imply that TAing is a requirement at almost every school. I just wanted to point out that this isn't the case. You don't have to do low-res if you are uninterested in teaching.


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Aug 6, 2008, 12:06 AM

Post #87 of 104 (6232 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Too "rich" for funding? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been my personal experience that too much money is never a bad thing, unless you're addicted to some crazy drugs and have no control over your addictive impulses.

Funding typically comes with teaching experience, which is invaluable. If you're rich, and you get funding, I guess just live lavishly and laugh at the rest of us who suck at being rich.

rick


steelcity


Aug 15, 2008, 4:02 PM

Post #88 of 104 (6152 views)
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External Sources of Aid [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi all,

I'm applying for Fall 2009 in poetry. I've made funding a top priority when selecting which schools I'm applying to, but there are a couple schools on my list that don't offer funding to everybody. Hence, I'm looking outside as well for financial aid sources. I know about the Javits fellowship, but I can't find any other substantial fellowships (i.e. would be equiv. or close to a funding package from a university, like Javits) open to grad students in creative writing. Anyone aware of others out there? Perhaps there are none, but if anyone has ideas, that would be great!


hidro


Aug 17, 2008, 1:22 PM

Post #89 of 104 (6082 views)
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Re: [steelcity] External Sources of Aid [In reply to] Can't Post

steelcity,

that's a great question. i don't have an answer, but i've often wondered the same thing myself.


(This post was edited by hidro on Aug 17, 2008, 1:26 PM)


IrisAnn

e-mail user

Jun 6, 2009, 1:04 AM

Post #90 of 104 (5919 views)
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Re: [darredet] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Very dead thread, but I thought I'd take my chances.

So, I am going into an MFA in the fall of 09. I am entering into a fully funded situation (tuition + stipend) and living in an affordable town, and don't expect to get another job, at least not until summers roll around.

My question: are there GRANTS and/or FELLOWSHIPS i should be applying to, outside of the school to supplement my studies? i know there are resources post-MFA in terms of residencies and book competitions and latter-day-fellowships to finish a book in some maine coastal town somewhere... and trust me, i'll be applying for all of the above... but is there anything i can do NOW to help the fact that i will have $12,000 a year to live on? i guess i just like a cushion... not that i have an extravagant lifestyle (opposite) but... any help to not have to get another job?

advice? links? etc?


gcsumfa


Jun 9, 2009, 2:29 AM

Post #91 of 104 (5788 views)
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Re: [IrisAnn] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Very dead thread, but I thought I'd take my chances.

So, I am going into an MFA in the fall of 09. I am entering into a fully funded situation (tuition + stipend) and living in an affordable town, and don't expect to get another job, at least not until summers roll around.

My question: are there GRANTS and/or FELLOWSHIPS i should be applying to, outside of the school to supplement my studies? i know there are resources post-MFA in terms of residencies and book competitions and latter-day-fellowships to finish a book in some maine coastal town somewhere... and trust me, i'll be applying for all of the above... but is there anything i can do NOW to help the fact that i will have $12,000 a year to live on? i guess i just like a cushion... not that i have an extravagant lifestyle (opposite) but... any help to not have to get another job?

advice? links? etc?


Probably not what you want to hear, but those types of grants are extremely, extremely hard to come by, and usually go to advanced PhD students working on dissertations. I've never heard of an MFA student getting one of those mammies (I don't think there's a special external fellowship for MFA students).

Also, some of those external fellowships can negate your current funding (for instance, some of the doctoral external fellowships are enough to double or triple a TA'ship, and often a student will have to chose one over the other).

Your best bet is to get a small PT job or take out some loan money.


bighark


Jun 9, 2009, 6:00 AM

Post #92 of 104 (5779 views)
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One of my classmates is a Javits scholar. http://www.ed.gov/programs/jacobjavits/index.html


Tabby


e-mail user

Jun 9, 2009, 6:47 PM

Post #93 of 104 (5712 views)
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Don't know about outside grants. But I had great success getting money from the school for travel (AWP, book research, writing seminars, etc.) Take advantage.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


taraberyl



Jan 7, 2010, 10:06 PM

Post #94 of 104 (4875 views)
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FAFSA school code max [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey guys - couldn't find the answer to this on the forum yet. I am filling out my fafsa to the best of my abilities, and I am being told that I can only enter the codes for 10 schools on the form...but I am applying to 12 schools...what's my next move?


taraberyl



Jan 7, 2010, 10:18 PM

Post #95 of 104 (4868 views)
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Re: [taraberyl] FAFSA school code max [In reply to] Can't Post

whoops. sometimes i forget this board is not the only place to find answers. google gave me my answer.
if any of you are befuddled - you file with your favorite 10, wait for an SAR report, then delete/add schools and resend.
PHEW.

fafsa is making me feel like a glutton - more than 10 schools.


raynold


e-mail user

Feb 26, 2010, 5:44 AM

Post #96 of 104 (4596 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, I wish I looked at this thread 6 months ago. I don't think all of my schools are fully funded. What would you all suggest I do if the schools I get into aren't fully funded? I am really quite poor.

Also, how do you go about finding out if they're fully funded? All their websites say is that they offer fellowships and TA opportunities, but that doesn't sound like full funding.

The only one that I got into so far says for the best students, there are tutoring/internships opportunities, but those pay something like $17/hr for 10 hours a week - which is hardly enough to offset the $15,000 a semester their website claims.


umass76


Feb 26, 2010, 9:55 PM

Post #97 of 104 (4529 views)
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Re: [raynold] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Raynold,

National MFA Funding Rankings.

S.


jthummel


Mar 5, 2010, 4:11 PM

Post #98 of 104 (4415 views)
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Jacob K. Javits Fellowship [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone applied for the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship? And, if so, have you heard anything yet?

Thanks!


Thomassutpen


Mar 7, 2010, 2:08 AM

Post #99 of 104 (4336 views)
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Money money money money [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it not the worst thing to get in and not get money? I feel like it's a litmus test.
I'm also applying to law school and its frustrating when they say, "yea, our graduates are making $120,000 a year directly out of school."
Anyway, money is an awful thing to have to deal with. Anyone know of anybody generous?


potshot


Mar 7, 2010, 1:17 PM

Post #100 of 104 (4258 views)
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Re: [jthummel] Jacob K. Javits Fellowship [In reply to] Can't Post

Over on the gradcafe.com forums the word is the Javits have been delayed because of all the bad weather in D.C. Over 800 applications, apparently. Notifications may come March 10th, 15th, or possibly later. No word on how many of those apps were for CW.


ladycelticpoet
Emma
e-mail user

Apr 6, 2010, 12:55 PM

Post #101 of 104 (4974 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello All,

I wonder if any of have had any experience with SCAD? I live in Savannah and well it is the only school that has an MFA program here. I am applying there but after hearing all your concerns about a MFA degree netting you a job I am a bit concerned. The MFA as I understand it at SCAD is not comprised of just writing in poetry, but rather it focuses on Business Writing, Writing for the web, Creative Non-fiction and if offers Fiction and Poetry only as electives. I was just wondering are there any graduates from SCAD on here?


Bees
not on grand conquests
to gather earthly things
simply
they are little women contrived
to hover over spring.

E. Q. Spenser


bokmakierie



Sep 28, 2010, 2:36 PM

Post #102 of 104 (3951 views)
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34 fully funded programmes [In reply to] Can't Post

In the P&W article on 2011 rankings, it says that there are 34 fully-funded programmes. Is there a list of these? Or do I work my way through the P&W list to find them?


pandamonium
Andy Saucedo

Aug 19, 2012, 4:06 PM

Post #103 of 104 (2814 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

we are in the same boat.... I also sub here in california and it pays $105 a day...I truly enjoy seeing the kids and interacting with them. I started a credential program (here in california single subject credential programs are a year long, plus all the "pre candidate" course work one has to do--so it can take up to 2 years before you start student teaching) but realized that all the red tape that you mentioned simply killed my ambition of being a teacher. there are days, when i'm subbing, that i regret dropping out. those days get worse when i hear of past classmates that have landed teaching jobs, but i don't let them bog me down too much, but it does kinda sting. but the worst days are when the students ask me "so do you want to be a REAL teacher? or just a sub" it's those days that get the best of me
Andy


TonyB79
Tony Baker
e-mail user

Aug 6, 2013, 6:59 PM

Post #104 of 104 (1847 views)
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Funding [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anyone have any info about the size of stipends offered to graduate assistants at Cornell, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida? Most MFA sites contain this info, but I can't find anything specific on these schools' sites.


Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.

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