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jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Nov 30, 2007, 11:37 PM

Post #26 of 104 (5313 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

Post #27 of 104 (5288 views)
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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 (5159 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 (5146 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 (5142 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 (5098 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 (5078 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 (5074 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 (5052 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 (4988 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 (4957 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 (4946 views)
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Re: [guidedvoices] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4903 views)
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Re: [guidedvoices] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4873 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] Financial Assistance for MFA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4772 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 (4753 views)
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Re: [lovesapricots] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4746 views)
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Re: [lovesapricots] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4668 views)
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Re: [lovesapricots] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4590 views)
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Re: [ejdifili] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4533 views)
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Re: [malber] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4522 views)
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Re: [malber] [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4464 views)
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Re: [umass76] Can we talk about Columbia? [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4387 views)
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Re: [malber] [In reply to] Can't Post

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 (4322 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 (4320 views)
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Re: [blarring] Question [In reply to] Can't Post

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)

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