February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Forking out the funds: grad school affordability

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Though students should be concentrating on learning and enjoying themselves at university, one of the biggest worries, sadly enough, concerns money.

From covering tuition and books, to paying rent and trying to eat something other than Kraft Dinner for an eight-month span, not a day passes that students don’t talk about how broke they are or how they have to return their books to buy groceries. As a result, when it comes to graduate school, the costly nature of post-secondary education plays a significant role in plans to continue education.

But for all those not in the know — it’s standard for most grad students to receive substantial funding for their academic endeavours.

According to Martin Kreiswirth, dean of graduate studies at Western, students often fail to realize that research-based graduate programs offer extensive funding. While undergraduate students are often highly concerned about their financial status, Kreiswirth says the availability of funding for graduate studies alleviates this concern.

Since granting agencies, the federal and provincial governments and other organizations have assessed high value to graduate degrees, Kreiswirth explains that many graduate students are almost fully supported by outside funding. All these organizations are essential in providing financial support to students who wish to pursue graduate degrees, he adds, noting it is important to remember that funding from these sources, as it is not given to students in the form of loans, does not require repayment.

“It’s the norm to be supported,” he says, noting there a variety of means to support graduate students. Scholarships, fellowships, research grants and positions as teaching assistants are some of the sources of funding for graduate study, he explains.

For example, all students accepted into a doctoral program at Western receive a minimum of $17,000 per year for four years, he explains. All universities provide funding for their graduate students through various means, with more substantial packages for doctoral students, he notes. “We fund [graduate students] at a competitive level,” Kreiswirth adds.

However, as with all issues surrounding graduate studies, the question of discipline again becomes important with regards to funding. According to Dave Ford, University Students’ Council VP-education and a Western political science graduate, there is a discrepancy in funding that occurs between disciplines.

“There is more money available for graduate students in the science fields,” he says. “In the humanities however, there is less money. This has been something that student lobby groups have been looking at.”

According to Daryl White, president of the Society of Graduate Students, financial assistance is also available through their organization. SOGS offers teaching assistant awards, needs-based bursaries and emergency loans for graduate students each semester, he explains. The health plan and bus pass provided through SOGS also helps alleviate some of the financial burden.

Alongside these sources of funding, more traditional means such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program also provides loans for graduate students.

Scholarship Stats

Western – Offers scholarships ranging from the Graduate Tuition Scholarship, Research Grant Support, International Graduate Student Scholarship and Graduate Teaching Assistantships, as well as work study and a host of other grants and fellowships.

National and Provincial – Some of the most recognized sources of funding in this category are from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program. However, it’s important to note there are many other sources for grants also available at this level, such as the Canada-United States Fulbright Scholarships for Graduate Students and the Mackenzie King Open and Travelling Scholarships.

Granting Agencies – Various agencies across the country offer graduate study funding to students each year. Agencies range from the Canadian Federation of University Women to the Department of National Defence Military and Strategic Studies to the Transportation Association of Canada, just to name a few.

There are also discipline specific awards available to graduate students in all fields.

More information about graduate studies and scholarships can be found at www.uwo.ca/grad



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