For most students, the excitement of an admissions offer comes with a dose of yucky-tasting medicine: the need to get serious about financial planning. You’re forgiven if the subject makes you feel overwhelmed and confused about where to begin, but it’s not something you can ignore in the hopes of it going away. The sooner you start to work on your financial plan, the more options you’ll have.
The broad theme I want to emphasize is approaching the task with a “portfolio strategy” in mind. While we’re pleased to be able to award some funding to nearly everyone who applies for it, Fletcher scholarships are nearly always partial, meaning most candidates will need several sources of funding to meet the overall cost of attendance. By all means keep your eyes open for big-ticket external scholarships, but be realistic that the more likely scenario will involve a combination of Fletcher scholarships, smaller externally-funded scholarships, educational loans, personal contributions, and part-time work.
With that in mind, now is the time to gather as much information as you can about each of these options. While Fletcher scholarships have already been allocated to admitted candidates, it’s still possible to research and pursue external sources of scholarship funding. Start researching eligibility requirements and application deadlines for a variety of external funding opportunities. Familiarize yourself with the terms of any educational loans you’re considering. It’s also worthwhile to start sketching out your best estimates of your likely living and miscellaneous expenses. International students should look into your national currency’s recent value and fluctuation against the US dollar. You can’t predict the future, but you can get some sense of what kind of cushion you might need to account for currency volatility.
The more prepared in advance you are for the financial side of starting grad school, the less you’ll need to worry about it during your student days!