Some notes on scholarship funding

This is a frenzied time of year for admitted candidates. The process of researching and getting to know grad programs has gone into overdrive, and for most there’s a lot of financial planning work going on, too. I recently discussed some basics on financial planning in this space, emphasizing the importance of a “portfolio” strategy of meeting the costs of attending grad school. Fletcher scholarships, typically a significant part of that portfolio, merit a bit further discussion.

Many candidates approach this part of making a financial plan as a process of negotiation, and that’s a reasonable and expected position. There are of course significantly more admitted applicants than students who will eventually enroll, and the underlying logic is the hope that scholarship dollars awarded to candidates who don’t ultimately enroll can be re-awarded to others. Without boring you with too much detail, suffice to say it’s not quite that simple given that total scholarship funds offered considerably exceed actual dollars in our budget (and I’ll refer those who want to be bored by the details to this post).

The good news is that we will always re-allocate any funds available, though that’s tempered by the reality that this overwhelmingly happens in quite small amounts that aren’t likely to have a major impact on candidates’ broader financial circumstances. We also can’t do much of this kind of work until closer to or even after the enrollment response deadline when we have a better sense of the composition of the incoming class. Admitted candidates should therefore be making financial plans with the scholarship information they currently have.

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