With the rising cost of higher education, many students are tempted to apply for more than one fellowship at a time and with high quality options such as the National Endowment for the Humanities this becomes even more appealing. However, there are some things that you should consider before going this route.
Are You Allowed to Have More than One Fellowship?
Whether you are allowed to have more than one fellowship depends on your individual school. Some will allow you to have multiple fellowships, but note that each school considers your entire financial package. Schools have the ability to reduce your fellowship amount if you receive a second fellowship. So, in some cases, getting a second fellowship won't help you.
It's a Lot of Work
Not only can you fellowships interact with one another, but they may place a heavy tax on your time. Fellowships often require you to act as a mentor, teaching assistant, or to otherwise help your community of students. With two fellowships, your time commitments will double. If you need to raise extra funds for your personal expenses, you may be wise to take on a part time job instead. In this case, you could maintain flexible hours so that you can cut back when you're swamped with school work.
Sharing the Wealth
Another issue is that some academics may look down on you for holding multiple fellowships. The fellowship program is meant to serve as a bridge for high potential students who want to give back to their community in exchange for financial help. They represent the school as model students. If you hold down two fellowships at once, it may appear that you are not committed to being a fellow in either program. This also takes away an opportunity for another student to serve as a fellow. For this reason, it's a good idea to look at other financing options.
What to Do Instead
If you are worried about the cost of graduate school, there are a few things you can do to make the financial burden smaller. In addition to part-time work, consider getting a paid internship each summer. This will require you to plan ahead; cool internships that offer a paycheck will often be swamped with applicants.
You could also talk to your financial aid officer about taking out educational loans. Depending on your field of study and your intended career path, you may qualify for certain loan forgiveness programs. For instance, lawyers who work in the government sector can get their loans forgiven after a few years of service. The Peace Corps and other service programs also have loan reduction programs. In this way, as long as you remain in good standing, the loan could essentially amount to free money for you.
Another option is to consider applying for more scholarships. These are usually not as intense as a fellowship, so it may be more feasible to for you beef up your scholarships than to take on another fellowship. Consult your department for scholarship options that you may not have considered before.
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The bottom line is that there are many options for paying off your student expenses. Don't worry; getting more than one fellowship at a time is not your only solution.