Below is a summary of questions to consider when choosing graduate schools and awards.
Before choosing a program
- What is the stipend rate and cost of living in the area?
Before accepting an offer
Is there an entrance award, tuition waiver, or work available as a teaching or research assistant? Will the department match any other offers?
What is the stipend rate of other students in the department or lab?
Do grad students focus on a single thesis project or do they explore several ideas?
Do grad students ever help write grants in the department or lab?
Are there departmental caps on funding?
After accepting an offer
Are there any additional entrance awards to apply for?
Are there any teaching assistantships available?
Have you applied for the typical departmental, university, and governmental awards?
What other organisations may benefit from or be interested in your research?
Would any companies or not-for-profit organisations be interested in your research?
Are there more fundable side projects or extensions to your project that would be viable?
Have you skimmed award lists or grant databases?
What is the expected value?
How well does your project fit with the organisation?
Does the award stack?
Does the organisation award multiple times?
Can you list yourself as an applicant?
Does the funder provide feedback after the decision?
Does winning the award enable you to apply for other related awards?
How much reusable work does the application entail?
Are there any red flags, such as application fees?
Avoiding common pitfalls
Is there an internal deadline?
Does your department cap funding?
Are there any wildcards to avoid procrastinating, such as creating the user account on the funding website, requesting reference letters, or getting printed transcripts?
Have you given yourself enough time to complete the Canadian Common CV without complaining about it on Twitter?
Did you give yourself a one-day buffer when submitting?
Do you understand that success in graduate funding has more to do with how often you apply rather than academic achievement?
Are you writing for the evaluation?
Have you asked other people to review the application?
If possible, have you nominated your own reviewers?
Have you read other successful applications for the same award?
Have you checked the “award holder’s guide” for any unexpected restrictions?
Does the award stack on any other awards you have received since submitting the application?
Is the project still feasible to complete?
Have you listed the award title and organisation (and optionally the amount) on your CV?
Are there yearly renewals or progress reports required?
Are any changes needed to the project?
Does your department know about the award?
Have you reminded yourself that the money will likely be delayed and you will take home less of it than you expect given taxes, fees, or unexpected changes?