Once you have decided to take that leap into graduate school and further your education beyond undergraduate, there are quite a few avenues for funding. First thing to remember is that the internet is your friend! The web can be a fountain of both information and complete garbage but in this case you’re in luck! There are a myriad of websites that offer links to funding, databases, and even guides to help you find the perfect grant for you.
If you’re going for something in the medical science field my first recommendation would be the National Institutes of Heal or the NIH. They are the primary government agency in the US responsible for health-related and biomedical research. If you have US citizenship and permanent residency, the NIH grants National Research Service Awards or NRSAs to student working on a PhD or an MD. The NRSAs are known as one of the most flexible grants because you only have to commit to as little as one year of research in your field following funding.
Harvard University offers a really great guide for graduate students on how to find grants. Their website has a page under the Fellowships Office for current students that are so quick and easy to use. If you’re a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (or GSAS) student, all you have to do is click the link, enter your information (including things like your gender and ethnicity) and hit submit. The tool serves to help you find a listing of fellowships that are most likely to serve you best.
It’s not a complete listing of all grants available to you but in a way its better because the guide helps you narrow down what can be an overwhelming amount of choices to a specified list of the best ones for you. Suppose you’re not a Harvard student and you aren’t pursuing masters or PhD in health or medical sciences. There are plenty of other well-known graduate study grants out there. For engineering and math there’s the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. For Law there’s the Equal Justice Works. Or perhaps you’re a polyglot with a passion for language! The US government has two great programs; Critical Language Scholarship Program and the National Security Education Program.
In any case, no matter what your field or department is, the best place to start your search is turn of the computer, pick up your phone and call you university’s financial aid office or your department head for help on how to find financial aid. Go the extra step and reach out to a trade associate or professional in your field. They often have connections and up to date lists of grant programs you can take advantage of. Securing some form of financial aid and receiving a fellowship aren’t the easiest things to do but with dedication and the ability to show you deserve it more than you need it, you too can be on your way to the graduate career of your dreams.