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Loss of Funding

challengemaniacchallengemaniac Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
I'm a second year graduate student in a science-related PhD program. Roughly three weeks ago, I was approached by the director of graduate studies and told that my advisor doesn't have grant money to fund me as an RA and she only has a single TA spot which is occupied by a more senior student. She told me that my only options to stay for this semester(spring 2018) are to find a new advisor or pay for myself. For the last year and a half, I have been a TA which includes a stipend and tuition waiver, without those I think it is very unlikely that I would be able to afford living expenses and tuition, especially since I never filed a FASFA for financial aid. Up until three weeks ago, it was never even brought to my attention that this was even a possible issue, I had assumed that I was going to have a TA spot for the spring semester. Since I received such short notice, I'm really not sure what my options even are. It's too late to apply for scholarships or fellowships, there are no extra TA spots in the department, and the other advisors in my division recently accepted first year students and don't have any spots open in their groups.

Does anyone have any other suggestions regarding this type of situation? I've discussed this with my advisor and she said that she is exploring other funding options, but there is really no concrete evidence that funding is coming and time is running out since the new semester starts this month. I talked to our graduate student union rep and she said she would try to see if she can figure out any solutions.

In the mean time, I am trying to look into leaving with a masters and going to another school to start a PhD program again. Unless my advisor comes up with funding, I feel like there is no point in me staying in a department that doesn't seem to care if their students stay or go. I'm a little unsure as to how to go about applying to other schools if it come down to that. By the time I find out if there is funding, the deadline to apply for some schools will have passed. Is there anyway to still apply to schools without having to go through another application cycle and taking a year off?

I really appreciate any advice you could contribute. Thanks in advance.

Replies to: Loss of Funding

  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,572 Forum Champion
    I think that you are wise to seek exiting with a Masters degree and looking into other programs. Personally, having served as a department chair, my policy was to ensure that all Ph.D. students in good standing have funding.

    Do you still have the offer that this university made you when you were being recruited? Was there a commitment of time for support? Conditions on the availability of support? This is information you can use as you pursue additional avenues beyond the graduate student union. You could speak with the Department Chair and then if, that is not fruitful, with the Dean. You need to make it clear that you are not seeking funding for the rest of your Ph.D. but interim funding to permit you to complete your Masters and move on. If your letter of admission makes any promises of this nature, you need to bring it to their attention.

    Frankly, your advisor should also be speaking to these individuals. Perhaps she is doing so.

    As for other programs, you need to look into those which might have some rolling admissions. Otherwise, a year of hiatus might be your only option.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Your department is trash for waiting until the last minute to tell you this. PIs don't lose funding suddenly, and likely they knew this was a possibility months ago - perhaps even at the beginning of this year - and didn't tell you. I mean, it's possible they found out and were scrambling to try to find a solution so they could say "So you can't be an RA this semester, BUT don't worry because we found you a TAship!" but they still should've told you and just told you they were working on it.

    So I agree that seeking to leave the program is the best course of action - not only because you ran out of funding, but also because the department didn't have the decency/courtesy to tell you with enough time to make a real decision.

    How long will it take you to get your master's - really? At my program it theoretically could take you 2 years but people often took 2.5-3 (it took me 3 years, but I also dragged my feet a bit because it didn't matter) I wouldn't pay on my own for more than one semester, and I might not even pay for that depending on the cost. If it's a public university and you established state residency and you could finish your MS by June - then maybe, if it's cost-effective.

    I would plan for the year of hiatus either way. You don't want to select another PhD program solely on the basis of whether or not they have rolling admissions (the vast majority do not). You want to pick a place that's going to be a great fit for you so you can stay put. So I'd start putting out feelers this year, using any sympathetic professors you have as a network to get you connections, with the intention to apply Fall 2018 and start Fall 2019. There's a chance that some good programs may have a vacancy or be able to take you on earlier than that, but the way you'd find out is almost certainly through a professor who has a colleague.
  • BLUEPHBLUEPH Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    Do you still have the offer that this university made you when you were being recruited? Was there a commitment of time for support? Conditions on the availability of support? This is information you can use as you pursue additional avenues beyond the graduate student union.

    I agree with @xraymancs . This letter is important as to how you decide to move forward.

    One of the letters my DD received from a PhD program stated that, “Financial support throughout your graduate degree program is anticipated, however support beyond this initial period will be contingent upon satisfactory progress and the availability of funding.” How does one define 'anticipated' in the context of this statement?

    I hope you are able to secure funding to at least earn your Master’s degree. If you do have to select another PhD program, you were given very good suggestions from @juillet .
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,413 Senior Member
    Is there the chance that this is an indicator that the department has decided that you aren't a promising enough student? Check that out as well. If the department is happy with you over-all, they will be more likely to help you get into a new group with the funding you need.
  • BLUEPHBLUEPH Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    Is there the chance that this is an indicator that the department has decided that you aren't a promising enough student?

    @happymomof1 I hope any educational institution would be forthcoming if they are not pleased with a student’s work and discuss this with the student.

    But reading how this institution is currently treating the OP, this may not be beneath them. To say the least, this is very unprofessional.
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