Financial Aid, Fellowship and Assistantship Information
For most incoming students, financial aid is a serious consideration, and almost all interested students receive some form of aid during the course of their studies. Financial aid comes in a variety of forms: fellowships, scholarships, traineeships, graduate teaching and research assistantships, grants and loans. The terms of this aid and the amounts available vary considerably by funding source. Some programs are administered by the university, while the department offers others, and still others are administered by external organizations. In all cases we try to help the student in every way that we can.
In order to meet U.S. Immigration requirements for entry into the United States, international students must have proof of sufficient financial resources to cover educational and living expenses for the duration of their program in place before visa documents can be issued. A completed Financial Certificate outlining available financial support, along with original evidence to support the amounts indicated (bank statements, scholarship letters, etc.) must be submitted along with the application for admission. This means that it is virtually impossible for international students to claim financial need as a criterion for department assistantship awards; assistantships will be awarded solely on the match between a faculty member’s needs and the student’s skills and experience.
Executive Master’s and DrPH Students
Students in the Executive Master’s and DrPH Programs are considered by the university to be part-time students. Financial aid is available for part-time students registered for a minimum of 4.5 credit hours per semester. Additionally, professional associations, fraternal organizations, tribal councils, and community groups have all been sources of sponsorship and scholarship funding for students. Many students have obtained low-interest loans through their local lending institutions. We recommend that you discuss these options with your employer or human resource director to determine the most efficient funding source and opportunity.
Sources of Funds
Sources of funds change periodically without advance notice, so the following list may not be complete or up-to-date. However, it should provide a good start in identifying opportunities for financial assistance. These opportunities include:
University Student Aid
The UNC Office of Scholarships and Student Aid advises, assesses, and approves students for a variety of financial aid opportunities. These include scholarships, grants, and loans. Please consult the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid website for more information. You may also find funding opportunities on the UNC Funding Information Portal here: http://fundingportal.unc.edu/graduate-students/. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is essential and can be done on-line. Most awards require that students submit a FAFSA and be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
Graduate School Awards
Departments are allowed limited nominations for competitive fellowships/merit assistantships, and an unlimited number of nominations for North Carolina Excellence Grants and North Carolina Native American Incentive Grants. Nominations for these merit-based awards are made by the admissions committee. See the “Financial Aid to Increase Diversity” section below for more information on the latter two awards. Stipend levels vary, as do the terms of the awards. Admission applications must be submitted by January 1 in order to be eligible for nomination.
Department Graduate Student Financial Aid: Teaching and Research Assistantships
Graduate teaching and research assistantships (TA and RA positions) are limited service awards made for the performance of specific teaching or research tasks. The department appoints students to assistantship positions based on suitability for the position and academic excellence. TA assignments are made by a department committee in consultation with the faculty instructor who will supervise the student. RA positions are funded from research contracts and grants made to individual faculty members, known as faculty principal investigators. RA assignments are offered by faculty principal investigators directly to students who have specific research interests and skills. A high level of statistical analysis and writing skills is usually required.
- Awards are made on a semester-by-semester basis. Student health insurance, tuition, and fee support (see Tuition Awards below) is provided to those TAs who meet the eligibility requirements specified by the Graduate School. Student health insurance and tuition and fee support may also be provided to RAs who meet Graduate School eligibility requirements, depending upon grant budget availability and sponsor policies. (http://gradschool.unc.edu/policies/tuitionsupport/).
- Most appointments are announced after the department budget is finalized and approved, which can range in time from mid-summer to the opening of the fall semester. Additional awards may continue to be made during the year, depending on department and faculty research needs and the availability of funds. No application is required for PhD students, who are usually supported for their first two years. There are only limited assistantships available for master’s students. Students are also strongly encouraged to explore TA and RA positions in other departments within Gillings and the broader University.
North Carolina students holding eligible teaching assistantships (TA positions) usually qualify for, and receive, a tuition award at the Academic Affairs rate. Most tuition awards do not cover school-based tuition amounts above the Academic Affairs rate. Out-of-state students holding eligible teaching assistantships also qualify for tuition awards, and usually will receive an award for the in-state portion of tuition (at the Academic Affairs rate). Funds are limited and may not be sufficient for awards to all eligible students for the out-of-state portion of tuition. PhD students in their first two years of study have departmental priority for out-of-state tuition support. If you receive a departmental teaching assistantship, you will automatically be considered for a tuition award. Research assistantships and other types of graduate student employment opportunities may offer tuition coverage, depending on funding agency/source policies and budgets, but tuition coverage should be discussed when such positions are offered. If you secure an assistantship with another university department, let Ying Xu, HPM Student Payroll Coordinator, know.
Other University Sources of Financial Support
The University has more than 20 specialized institutes and centers, many of which offer fellowships, assistantships, and/or employment opportunities. For example:
- The Carolina Population Center has a predoctoral traineeship program and dissertation awards for those interested in fields related to population health. There is an application process, which requires a department recommendation and ranking of all applicants.
- Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research offers a predoctoral training program through an application process.
- Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a number of predoctoral fellowships including the Cancer Care Quality Training Program.
The following are all possible sources of part-time employment for enrolled students:
- Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research
- The Odum Institute for Research in Social Science
- Highway Safety Research Center
- Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Carolina Population Center
- Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center
- Institute for the Study of the Americas
- Dental Research Center
- Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Upperclass and graduate students may be eligible to fill a number of positions as residence hall assistants and assistant residence directors. Information about available positions can be found on the Carolina Housing website here: https://housing.unc.edu/about-us/employment-opportunities/student-positions.
Financial Aid to Increase Diversity
The department, the school, and the university have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Specific opportunities are available to meet the financial needs of diverse students, including but not limited to those listed below:
- The university has two awards specifically available to diverse student applicants, including underrepresented minority doctoral students. North Carolina Excellence Fellowships and Native American Incentive Grants are nonservice awards which provide stipends, plus full tuition, fees, and health insurance for 9 months to qualified residents of North Carolina. The Excellence Fellowship is available to “diverse applicants broadly defined” (including age, economic circumstances, ethnic identification, family educational attainment, disability, gender, geographic origin, maturity, race, religion, sexual orientation, social position, and veteran status). The Native American grants are available to American Indians. Nominations are made by the department; preference in selection is given to entering students.
- The school has some designated scholarships for underrepresented minority applicants, but the number varies from year to year.
- Predoctoral training programs administered by campus research centers are interested in recruiting a diverse group of trainees. Speak with your faculty advisor to determine whether any of these opportunities is a good fit with your interests.
- Scholarship resources for diverse students may be found here.
External Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants
Students should apply directly for competitive awards offered by a variety of local and national organizations. There is wide variation in criteria for, as well as in the size of, these awards.
Examples of such awards are:
- American Association of University Women Fellowships are administered through local chapters. (Consult appropriate directories on this subject for further information.)
- The Foster G. McGaw Scholarship Fund is administered by the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives. These $5,000 annual scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to students who are enrolled in graduate programs, will be entering their final year, and are U.S. or Canadian citizens. Applicants are not required to be a Student Associate of the American College of Healthcare Executives; however, during the selection process, preference is given to applicants who are Student Associates of ACHE. Applications are available at http://www.ache.org/Faculty_Students/mcgaw_scholarship.cfm, and must be endorsed by the department. Applications are accepted between January 1 and March 31.
- The Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship offered annually by the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives to minority students entering their final year and who are U.S. or Canadian citizens. Applicants are not required to be a Student Associate of the American College of Healthcare Executives; however, during the selection process, preference is given to applicants who are Student Associates of ACHE. Applications are available at http://www.ache.org/Faculty_Students/dent_scholarship.cfm and are accepted between January 1 and March 31. Recipients are notified in July.
- The Corris Boyd Scholarship, a $40,000 scholarship sponsored by HCA, is offered annually by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration to students of color who have applied and been accepted into an AUPHA full-member master’s degree program, have a minimum 3.0 GPA (out of 4.0) in undergraduate coursework, and have U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. Applications are accepted between March 1 and May 3. Winners are notified no later than mid-June.
- The Indian Health Services Scholarship Program is available for up to four calendar years of health professional education. Each scholarship grant is awarded for a one-year period, with reapplication for each continuation. Students who meet specific continued eligibility requirements and have been reviewed and recommended for continuation will be given priority consideration for the additional period of support. The level of scholarship benefits, i.e., stipend, travel reimbursement, cost of books, etc., is contingent upon the availability of funds appropriated each fiscal year by the Congress of the United States and is, therefore, subject to change each year.
Listed below are some organizations that provide non-institutional funds to minority students enrolling in graduate management schools:
A Word of Advice
The above sources of financial aid each provide aid in different amounts, have different requirements and eligibility qualifications, and impose a different award and/or repayment schedule. You may find the following advice useful:
- Assess your financial needs as well as your academic qualifications. For the latter, your prior coursework and GPA are important, but under the holistic application review used by aid decision makers, your unique experiences and contributions, as well as your ability to overcome barriers are equally important.
- Develop a realistic strategy for financing your education. You should consider your own resources; assistance from parents, relatives, and friends; federal/state loans; part-time income potential; income of your spouse; and traineeship/assistantship/other awards.
- If you plan to seek financial aid from or through the university, start as early as possible and follow up periodically. There is great competition for funds, and often the application process is cumbersome and time consuming.
- Many forms of financial aid require completion of the FAFSA, usually by a March 1st deadline.
- Many of the loans and awards have citizenship and residency restrictions. Therefore, international students should pay special attention to eligibility requirements.