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Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources
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edwriter



Nov 10, 2005, 10:56 AM

Post #1 of 15 (8023 views)
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Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources Can't Post

Hi, everyone:

One issue that's recurring in posts/threads on low-res programs is the scarcity of funding (fellowships, grants, TA-ships, etc.) for them. I thought it might be helpful to start a thread where we might list (hopefully helpful) references precisely on this subtopic.

To begin, here's an observation: at least two relatively new low-res programs charge significantly reduced tuition for in-state residents. One of these programs also offers reductions for "regional" residents.

See the links for the University of Nebraska's program:
http://avalon.unomaha.edu/unmfaw/

and

Murray State University's program (the program is based in Kentucky but also charges less for writers from Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana):
http://www.murraystate.edu/chfa/english/mfa/


Also, according to its website, the New England College program (poetry only) offers scholarships in amounts that "may vary from one thousand dollars to the full cost of tuition."
See http://www.nec.edu/graduate/mfa/mfa.html

Hope this helps--eager to see what else others add.

Best,
Erika D.


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



edwriter



Nov 14, 2005, 11:27 AM

Post #2 of 15 (7968 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, again:

Glad to see people are reading this thread. Just a quick note to let you all know that I decided to copy my original post (more or less) to my blog. And I've just added findings for several more low-res programs there. If you're interested, see

http://practicing-writing.blogspot.com/...funding-for-low.html

Thanks.

Best,
Erika D.


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



C.bronco


Nov 16, 2005, 2:42 PM

Post #3 of 15 (7924 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

How about a "No Residency" MFA? I can neither take off from work nor tote my 3 year old to some far off campus for 2 weeks.


http://cynthia-bronco.blogspot.com


edwriter



Nov 16, 2005, 3:40 PM

Post #4 of 15 (7918 views)
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Re: [C.bronco] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

C. bronco:

I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here. Are you asking about the existence of "no-residency" programs, or about their funding policies?

In either case, I can think of two programs you might want to look into: the low-residency (also called "optional residency") program at the University of British Columbia, and the online program through National University.

You might also want to check out the thread on parenting and the MFA:

http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=233894

But I'm not sure about the premise of bringing a child to a residency (nor is every residency two weeks long, either). There seemed to be a number of parents of young children in my program (from which I graduated in 2003). From what I gleaned, the non-MFA parent simply worked even harder the week the MFA parent was away, and/or grandparents helped out, etc.

Best,
Erika D.


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



edwriter



Feb 26, 2006, 9:32 PM

Post #5 of 15 (8288 views)
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Re: [coolshoes] low-res funding [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, coolshoes:

Here's a post-in-progress that deals with funding for low-res programs.

http://practicing-writing.blogspot.com/...funding-for-low.html

Of course, you can always inquire of each program you're considering what its financial aid/funding policies may be. Often at least some information is available at the program Web site, and if it isn't, a contact person should be listed for program administration questions.

Good luck!

Best,

Erika D.

NOTE (ADDED ON 27 FEBRUARY 7:20PM): This post appears here out of context--it was originally posted on another thread responding to a question from coolshoes. Seems to have been moved sometime today.


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



(This post was edited by edwriter on Feb 28, 2006, 10:25 AM)


michael kobre


Feb 27, 2006, 1:45 PM

Post #6 of 15 (7885 views)
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Choosing an MFA Program [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm writing in response to the question by coolshoes about funding in low-residency programs. I'm the co-director of the low-residency MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte, and I've been looking at the Speakeasy MFA forums over the last few days as part of my research for a paper I'll present next week at the AWP conference.

As a few other posts have already noted, funding is more limited in low-residency programs. In part, as has been noted, that's because many low-residency students have jobs and careers to support them already--which, of course, is one reason why they opt for low-residency programs in the first place. At Queens, however, we made a specific choice not to offer a few fellowships to a few select students. That was a very deliberate philosophical choice on our part because we've worked to create a non-hierarchical program, in which everyone gets the same deal. That choice, along with others, was intended to help discourage competition among our students and to foster a stronger sense of community. In fact, fellowships at some programs can be something of a shell game: i.e., tuition is raised across the board so that fellowships--or discounted tuition--can then be offered to a select few and held out as an incentive to all applicants. It's a clever strategy, but, like some other common aspects of low-residency designs, not one we chose to pursue at Queens.

Good luck to all of you in your pursuit of MFAs (and more). If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact me at kobrem@queens.edu. I hope to see some of you at AWP.

Michael Kobre
The Charles A. Dana Professor of English
On-Campus Director of the Queens MFA Program


edwriter



Feb 27, 2006, 5:37 PM

Post #7 of 15 (7841 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, all:

Since this topic recently resurfaced on another thread, I thought I'd "bump" it up to the top of the list.

Best,
Erika D.

ADDED ON 2/27, 7:22PM: I posted this much earlier today. Michael Kobre's post was not on this thread when I bumped the thread up, nor was my response to coolshoes, which was posted on another thread. Had either of these posts been here, I wouldn't have posted the "bump"!


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



(This post was edited by edwriter on Feb 27, 2006, 7:25 PM)


edwriter



Feb 27, 2006, 9:21 PM

Post #8 of 15 (7806 views)
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Re: Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, everyone:

What a few Speakeasy members know but what I don't talk about very much here is that like Michael Kobre I, too, have a connection with the Queens University low-residency MFA program: I graduated in 2003 (in fiction). If you're interested in how the philosophy and choices Michael describes translated into practice/reality in my experience, please feel free to e-mail me your questions privately. I've been an active Speakeasy member for more than a year; you can easily find my past posts and see if what I have to say generally makes sense to you before you e-mail me for my individualized view.


Best,

Erika D.


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



coolshoes


Feb 28, 2006, 12:11 AM

Post #9 of 15 (7779 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I would like to e-mail you about this -- I'd be very interested in your prespective, as I have applied to Queens (haven't heard yet). I'm not sure how to e-mail you directly?


www.LisaRomeo.blogspot.com


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Feb 28, 2006, 7:49 AM

Post #10 of 15 (7763 views)
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Re: [michael kobre] Choosing an MFA Program [In reply to] Can't Post

This probably won't be a popular sentiment. But as someone who is headed down the home stretch at a low-residency MFA program - Bennington - I'm not disappointed at the scarcity of aid in low-res programs and I hope it never changes.

My aid package is the job I'm able to keep. That's the whole idea of low residency. If programs like mine started giving out huge amounts of aid money, it would negate some of the best reasons to choose a low-residency program. Low-residency programs have a more mature and less competitive student body and writing environment than traditional MFA programs. We don't get many people shooting straight out of undergraduate writing programs with little life experience to draw on for their work. Many of the students are already full-time writers or committed part-time writers who have learned to incorporate their artistic calling into the rest of their lives. And if you haven't learned to do that, a low-res program will teach you in a hurry. It might be the most valuable instruction a low-res program provides.

If you could go to a low-res program free of charge and just hang out in your house writing between residencies, all that would change. The experience and commitment level of the writers would plummet. The student body would be divided into haves and have-nots with resentment abounding, as it famously does at some of the best-known traditional programs. The faculty would start to view the students as subordinates rather than colleagues out hacking away in the real world, as many of them are. And most graduates would be stuck with a daunting transition back to regular life and no tools to help them with it.

The biggest misconception of all is that low-residency programs are expensive to begin with. These are some of the cheapest respected degrees you can attain. My MFA costs about as much as a nice new car and the financing is easy. If you subtract my tuition from my income - and I've cut back to three-quarters time - I'm still doing better financially than most traditional MFA students getting 12K a year of "full support." At my stage of life I couldn't afford the aid package most full-time MFA programs offer. I would need to borrow more heavily to make my mortgage and bills than I'm borrowing now to pay the tab at Bennington.

That's my take. If you're struggling for time to write and/or starving to get it, and you need a couple of years to concentrate on your craft, as is the case for many writers, that's what all those traditional MFA programs are for. But not low-residency.


edwriter



Feb 28, 2006, 9:12 AM

Post #11 of 15 (7748 views)
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Re: [coolshoes] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, coolshoes:

If you click on my profile ("edwriter") you'll get to the Private Message (PM) option. You can write to me there.

As for Wiswriter's take, I think it's helpful to the extent that it provides one person's insight about his own MFA program (Bennington) and his own circumstances but it always troubles me when people talk about low-res programs as one huge category, using their individual experiences as the evidence. Contrary to popular belief, there's a lot of variation among these programs (funding policies being only one example), not to mention variation among the circumstances of the individual students who attend them.

One final point: in my ongoing attempts to point people to funding resources for low-res programs (both here and at my blog) I'm not simply mentioning programs that offer tuition remission. I've also pointed out programs that will pay students to take on extra work (assisting with program administration, etc.--itself a valuable experience); programs at public universities that are significantly cheaper for local residents (even the price of a nice new car may matter to some people); and grant/scholarship opportunities that aren't administered by MFA programs but by foundations and other organizations for which low-res students may also be eligible. That was the point of this thread--to offer specific resources rather than generalized arguments about more than two dozen individual programs, arguments that are also easily found elsewhere.

Not that I don't know what it is to offer a potentially unpopular opinion, myself, particularly when it comes to all matters MFA. Which is why I'm now very careful about applying my own experiences/ideas to the situations/questions of others, especially people I don't even know. What worked (or didn't work) for me may have very little relevance for people with different academic and personal histories, goals, circumstances, etc.

Best,

Erika D.


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



(This post was edited by edwriter on Feb 28, 2006, 9:15 AM)


Lglabor


Feb 28, 2006, 11:36 AM

Post #12 of 15 (7712 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll probably be dismissed or scolded for being a sour-grapes wannabe or working-class whiner, but ... the fact is that for most of us who work for a living and live paycheck to paycheck and cannot possibly afford to take on any more debt--in other words, for most people--a low-residency program that costs about as much as a new car or even considerably less is still way out of reach financially. So is a program in the same city where you live unless you happen to live in a city with a program that offers full funding. Thus no MFA for us. I nevertheless watch these boards to root for everyone who's trying to get in to a program and has figured out a way to afford it.


arielblue
Library Anne

Mar 3, 2006, 12:31 PM

Post #13 of 15 (7637 views)
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Re: [Lglabor] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm in the same position as Lglabor. In order to work my full-time job and make ends meet AND take on a low-res program at around $10K/year, I'd have to come up with some more money from somewhere... and it's not like I have retirement savings to dip into. Sigh. The thought of taking out $20-25K in loans in my mid-forties is a bit daunting, to be sure -- though there's always the possibility that I won't live long enough to have to worry about paying them back. *grin*

For people like me, getting financial aid for a low-res program wouldn't mean I could quit my job and sit around writing all day ... it would mean I could continue to work forty hours a week, work on the MFA, and *maybe* continue to put gas in my 15-year-old Toyota!

I don't think that, in my case, it's a "misconception" that these programs are expensive. It's just that I have a different definition of "expensive" than some people do, apparently; when the two-year program costs about a year's salary, it doesn't look very affordable. I have no grudge against people who can afford to do it; I'm very happy for them. And I do save my pennies as much as possible & go to a summer workshop every couple years instead of, say, getting my teeth fixed or buying a new refrigerator just 'cause the freezer on mine doesn't really work anymore. Learning to be a better writer is certainly that important to me, so I do what I can. But the fact remains that, without financial assistance, even these "inexpensive" low-res programs are out of reach for many of us.


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Mar 5, 2006, 1:49 PM

Post #14 of 15 (7592 views)
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Re: [arielblue] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess what I meant is that low-res MFA programs are not expensive in comparison with other graduate programs. Most graduate programs, in any discipline, are going to be pricier in terms of tuition, and they're going to require you to quit your job and uproot.

Yes, some of those programs will offer aid and tuition waivers. But that aid is still going to equal something like a $12,000-a-year job. So, to make ends meet, a lot of people with "full rides" will need to borrow as much or more than you'd borrow to attend a low-res program - especially for someone who has already taken on responsibilities like a family, a mortgage, etc.

That's why I think low-res programs get such an unfair rap on price. I know graduate students who got "full support" throughout their programs and came out a lot worse than I will.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 6, 2006, 11:57 AM

Post #15 of 15 (7562 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Low-Residency MFA programs: funding information/resources [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a concept in economics that's relevant here: opportunity cost. the cost of a purchase or expenditure also includes the loss of other gains the money could have generated. So the cost of my low-res MFA was about $28K, but during those two years I earned about $25K, making the net (after opportunity cost) around $3K.

Had I gone full-res and paid about the same, there might also have been housing costs and so on, and the additional cost of whatever among that $25K I did not ear. So even with a full tuition remittance, I start off with a loss of what I might have earned, and that has to be made up.

This is, of course, irrelevant to those who can't afford it in the first place.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

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