Currently viewing the tag: "Scholarship"

The second installment of Ariel’s Frequently Answered Questions. 

Dear Ariel:  How can I get more information about scholarship opportunities at Fletcher?  How do I qualify for aid, and is aid also available to international students?

The Fletcher School awards over $6 million in scholarship aid annually.  Fletcher Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit and need to both U.S. citizens/permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens.  Financial need is determined through an evaluation of an applicant’s resources, which includes income and asset information.  Merit is assessed through the application for admission.

The Fletcher School is committed to providing scholarship assistance to as many students as possible; however, our resources are limited.  While over ninety percent of the candidates requesting scholarship aid receive at least partial funding, Fletcher students need to formulate a financial plan that does not rely solely on Fletcher scholarship aid.  Fletcher scholarships typically range from $4,000 per academic year up to full tuition.  The middle 50 percent of scholarships awarded are in the $7,000 to $18,000 range.  Please note that Fletcher offers very few full tuition scholarships, and assistance to support living expenses is not available.

All applicants seeking scholarship aid must submit a complete Fletcher Scholarship Application (included with the Application for Admission) by January 10 for MALD applicants and March 1 for MIB and LLM applicants.  By completing the scholarship application, applicants are eligible for all Fletcher scholarships.  Scholarship recipients are notified at the time of admission.  Scholarships are renewable in the second year for those students who maintain full-time status and remain in good academic standing.  In the event that a student’s tuition charges are reduced, the Fletcher Scholarship will be pro-rated accordingly.

For more information on scholarships, please visit our website here. For more information on loans and employment, please visit our website here.


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Now that you’re all up to speed on admissions decision options, it’s time to turn to the other piece of information many applicants will receive when decisions go out — scholarship awards.

As you may have read or heard us say, Fletcher awards scholarships on the basis of merit and need to both U.S. and international students.  For a given level of merit (as determined in the admissions review process), the largest awards go to students with the greatest need.  There are no need-only scholarships, in that everyone who is admitted has merit.  But there are also no merit-only scholarships, except for commitments we have made to match grants from other organizations.

The award that an incoming student receives is renewable for the second year of Fletcher study.  There’s a renewal process, through which we double-check that students will be on campus taking the expected number of classes in each semester.  But students who remain in good academic standing can plan their second-year finances based on the knowledge their scholarship will be renewed.

Fletcher has always believed that it’s in the interest of admitted students to have upfront information on their scholarship awards for both years.  It’s important for incoming students to have a complete financial plan (which, it should be clear, doesn’t mean waiting until year two to see what happens).

Separate from the scholarship award are student loans.  For U.S. students and permanent residents who have completed the FAFSA, the University’s Student Financial Services office will, in early April, email details of the complete financial aid package, including loan availability and work study funds.

One last note — many Fletcher students work as research or teaching assistants, but the Admissions Committee doesn’t make those arrangements, and scholarship awards carry no RA or TA obligations.  (We don’t presume to know how you’ll want to spend your out-of-class time.)  Once students arrive in the fall, there are opportunities to find campus work, whether you want to share your expertise in political science or sociology, or hand out reserve reading materials in the library.

Admissions work, as you may have heard me say, is ultra-cyclical, but I still try not to repeat myself in the blog.  The exception comes in March and April, when I freely steal content from previous years.  Today’s stolen post covers the questions we answer most routinely for each year’s newly admitted students.  Here are the questions (and related answers) that may be on your mind.

Q: I hope to work when I’m at Fletcher.  How can I arrange it?
A: There are many administrative jobs available each year at Fletcher, as well as elsewhere at the University. Fletcher jobs are usually “advertised” via a student email list. Jobs elsewhere at the University can be found through the Student Employment office.

Q: What about research or teaching assistantships?
A: These positions are arranged directly with the hiring department or professor. It can be difficult for you to arrange a teaching assistant position for your first semester, regardless of your qualifications, but there are often opportunities in the second semester. Many professors hire research assistants in the fall, so even first-year students will be eligible. Research assistants are paid an hourly wage, while teaching assistants are often paid per course. (Note that teaching assistants do not teach Fletcher students. Professors teach, but the assistants might arrange course materials or do other “behind the scenes” work.)

Q: How do second-year scholarships compare to those awarded to first-year students?
A: We know that there are schools out there that reserve much of their scholarship budget to distribute to second-year students.  That isn’t Fletcher’s model.  We split our scholarship budget between first-year and second-year students.  Students who remain in good academic standing can expect their awards to be renewed for the second year.  Students who do not receive a scholarship in the first year can also apply for a scholarship for the second year, but funding cannot be guaranteed.

Q: I would like to pursue a joint degree. Will Fletcher allow me to defer my enrollment?
A: Fletcher will approve a deferral of up to one year (two semesters) to allow students to start a joint degree at another institution.  Prospective students needing more than one year before enrolling should plan to reapply.  Anyone wanting a deferral needs to request one — it isn’t automatic — but you can submit your request by email.

Q: I’m not doing a joint degree, but I want to defer for other reasons.  Can I?
A: Fletcher allows deferrals for up to one year so that candidates can pursue professional opportunities.

Q: Tell me more about how to request the deferral.
A: Follow these instructions.

Q: The law/business/other school with which I want to pursue a joint degree is not on Fletcher’s list of “official” joint or dual degrees.  How will that work?
A: Fletcher will support your efforts to arrange a joint degree that suits your career and academic goals. The process is to transfer courses from your other program so that you also receive Fletcher credit for them.  When I speak to students putting together an ad hoc joint degree, I always suggest that they contact the registrar as soon as they enroll at Fletcher. You won’t be able to transfer in your first-year torts/finance/language class, but with careful homework, you will find classes that meet Fletcher’s requirements. (You should also be sure to work with the other school. Our experience is that many other schools are less flexible than Fletcher.)

Q: Can I make my decision after the deadline named in my admission letter?
A: No. There are many administrative reasons why Fletcher needs to know how many students will enroll, but we don’t expect you to care about that. On the other hand, we want you to remember that there are students waiting on the waitlist, and we hope you will respect their need for a speedy answer as to whether they will be admitted. We won’t know if we need to go to the waitlist until we have heard from the students we have already admitted.

Q: Do I really need to respond officially?  Can’t I just email you?
A: We enjoy your emails, but we really prefer you respond through the online system or with the enrollment reply form.  It helps us keep track of information.

Q: What classes will be offered in 2011-2012?
A: The schedules for next year aren’t set yet, but many courses are offered on a yearly basis.  You can see the class schedules for 2010-2011 on our web site.

Q: I was put on the waitlist.  Can I request feedback now?
A: Although the waitlist is not the same as being offered admission, it’s also not the same as being denied admission.  We only offer feedback to applicants once their applications are no longer active, which is not the case for those on the waitlist.  On the other hand, there may be one key item we want to see from you, and it is reasonable for you to contact us and ask directly if there is a particular item the Committee on Admissions would like to see.  If there is, we’ll tell you.  If there isn’t, we’ll leave it to you to decide what you should send to update your application.

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If you’re expecting to take loans to pay for graduate school, in particular if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident planning to take federal loans, here’s an important bit of information to keep in mind.

After Fletcher makes a scholarship award (and notifies an admitted student of both the admission decision and the award amount), we provide that information to the University’s Student Financial Services office.  There, using information from the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the SFS staff “packages” each student for scholarship and loans, based on the University’s calculation of a budget for Fletcher study.  The budget includes tuition, fees, health insurance, room and board, books, and incidental expenses.  The budget is standard for all students, though it can be adjusted slightly if a student has an unusual expense related to study (such as the need to replace a broken computer).

What the budget cannot be enlarged to include is repayment of consumer or credit card debt.  These expenses can’t be financed through scholarships or U.S. government loans.  So, as part of the process of preparing for graduate school, you should be paying off your debt now, with the goal of starting your studies debt free (and preferably with some cash in the bank).

As a final note, though different schools will approach the process differently, the general story is the same.  Monthly repayment of consumer debt or credit card debt cannot be included in the budget for study.

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Despite all the work our applicants put into researching graduate school options, there will surely be some admitted students who will race around in April, frantically gathering information as if the thought had never occurred to them that they might go to graduate school in the fall.  Or that they might need to choose among several good options.  Please don’t be one of those people.

This is a perfect time to prepare for the next phase of your application/admission process.  How will you make a decision if you are admitted to several of your preferred schools?  What will you do if you’re not admitted to your top schools?

Beyond the decision-making process, what do you need to know that you don’t know yet?  For example, do you have a good understanding of the curricula of Fletcher and other schools to which you’ve applied?  Naturally we want all of our admitted students to enroll here, but we don’t want them to enroll if Fletcher isn’t a good match for their interests.  Prepare by checking out our academic program.

What about some of those assumptions you’ve made along the way?  “If I go to Fletcher, my spouse will find a job in the area,” for example.  Is there some prep work you can start now, in order to make the assumption become a reality?

And, perhaps you have thought to yourself:  “If I’m admitted to graduate school, I’ll brush up on English/second language/economics/statistics.”  Do you really have so little confidence that waiting is the best strategy?  Why not start working on it now?

There’s lots more to prepare, but my final suggestion for today is to consider your financial situation.  Fletcher and its peers all offer some full-tuition scholarships but, to be completely honest, most of our students receive scholarships for less than the cost of tuition.  How are you going to fund that gap?  And how big a gap can you fund?  If you haven’t already worked this out, please don’t wait until April to start.  Check out the scholarship information on Fletcher’s page, and the loan information on the Tufts Student Services page to get you started.  And while you’re at it, stop spending and start saving.  In September, you’ll be glad to have the extra cash from having cut your daily coffee allowance.

In conclusion, dear blog readers, though your admissions fate is still unknown, it’s time to prepare.

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We hear lots of questions about scholarships and how they’re awarded.  (It was the hot topic at Monday’s event.)  Must be time to shed a little sunshine on this murky topic.  Let’s start with the terminology.  When we, at Fletcher, talk about “scholarships,” we’re talking about the funds drawn from the Fletcher pot of cash — not loans, or any other type of financial aid.

Fletcher awards scholarships on the basis of need and merit together.  That is, there are no merit-only scholarships, and there are no need-only scholarships.  Merit is determined through the admissions process, and need is assessed when we review the two-page scholarship application.  For a given level of merit, the largest awards go to those with the greatest financial need.

(This is the moment to mention that we review scholarship applications after admissions decisions have been made.  Applying for a scholarship will not affect your admissions chances.)

We offer a few full-tuition scholarships, but we never “waive tuition.”  (In the end, what is a tuition waiver, anyway, except a full-tuition scholarship?)  Most Fletcher scholarships do not cover the full cost of tuition, and our students usually fund their education through a combination of personal savings, family contributions, the Fletcher scholarship, income earned while a student, loans, and external scholarships or fellowships.  Even students receiving a full-tuition scholarship will need to cover living expenses.

Different graduate schools have different scholarship/financial aid policies, and we’ve tinkered around with ours quite a bit over the years.  Is our current structure perfect?  Nope.  But it makes a certain sense.  We try to give students with financial need a start toward the cost of attendance.  It’s up to the student to line up the remaining funds.

Also up to the student is the task of finding teaching assistant, research assistant, or office positions.  The Admissions Committee doesn’t assign students to professors as research help.  The professors do their own hiring, and many Fletcher students are TAs within the School or in other units of the University.  To be honest, it’s very difficult to line up a teaching assistant position before you’re actually on campus, but some students will be TAs in their second semester.  Research assistant and office positions are advertised at the start of each semester, and are particularly readily available in September.

You may be wondering what you can do now to be sure you can afford graduate school.  The first thing you shouldn’t do is sit back (possibly biting your nails with worry) and wait until you have heard from all the schools to which you applied.  After admissions decisions are released, you only have a short time (about a month) to get all your financial ducks in a row.  Don’t miss the opportunity to do some research and planning now.  What personal and family sources can you draw upon?  Is there any scholarship or fellowship available to someone with your academic or professional or national background?  (These external scholarships are often for small sums, but every bit helps.)  Do a little financial analysis — how much can you afford to borrow?  Finally, it’s not too late to SAVE!  If there’s any way for you to put some money away each month, then do it!  Even if your savings only cover the cost of books, you’ll be glad to have the cash.

Since not all of our applicants and blog readers are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, I won’t say too much here about government loans and work study.  Just this:  if there’s any chance you’re going to want to apply for loans, you should complete the FAFSA, and now is as good a time as any.  That way, when the University informs you of your financial aid “package,” you’ll learn about loan funds in addition to the Fletcher scholarship.

Affording graduate study is a challenge.  Your first step toward meeting the challenge is a little advance preparation.

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