STEP 3: Attract Funding
Most of the Romanian graduate students in the USA rely on extensive financial support offered by their U.S. universities. Here are the different types of financial aid you should look for when checking a university’s funding opportunities for international students. Sometimes a number of these options are jointly offered as part of the financial aid package.
Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic merit. They are prestigious, financially generous awards, and usually come with no strings attached. However, fellowships are limited in availability, depending on the school and program you are considering, and are usually offered only for a limited time period (for instance, the first year of graduate study).
Grants and scholarships are also gift money that you don’t have to repay. Grants may be offered through private funding awarded to U.S. universities. Private grants usually take the form of scholarships, with specific applicability and application instructions.
Based on Romanian students’ experience, a graduate assistantship position, for teaching, research, or administrative activities, is one of the best financial aid opportunities available to graduate students. As a grad assistant, if you choose your university strategically –and that’s where EDMERICA can make a huge difference – you’ll earn an annual stipend/salary between $7,000 and $15,000 and may also get free tuition. In addition to working on your graduate program, as a graduate assistant you will need to devote up to 20 hours/week to your assistantship duties. You will gain valuable professional experience and develop close working relationships with the faculty in your department.
Teaching assistantships (TA) are offered by many departments to top applicants who show good oral communication skills and teaching experience or a special interest in teaching. As a TA you will assist faculty with teaching or teaching-related activities, such as offering group seminars, grading papers, meeting students during office hours, preparing materials for class, and more.
Research assistantships (RA) offer graduate students the opportunity to hone their research and paper-writing skills by assisting a faculty member with their research. Most decisions regarding RAs are made by individual professors in the department, since these positions are paid from the research grants attracted by professors. So your application chances might be significantly enhanced if, before you send in your application, you get in touch with the professors you would like to work with to demonstrate your potential for a TA or RA position. More on this during EDMERICA sessions.
Study loans may also be included in the financial aid packages offered by U.S. universities. The terms are usually very attractive, with low interest rates. Some U.S. schools offer international students loans that do not require a U.S. co-signer.