Grad-student grants rise


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More students will have the opportunity to do research following the increase in grant funding.

The Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students has both received more applications for grant funding and accepted more applications for such funds. The group provides grants to students for travel, service, and research.

The council received 760 grants applications for this school year by March, compared with 400 by the same time last year. Thus far, the council has awarded 234 grants.

“Those are big increases,” said Executive Council President Ben Gillig. “I think it’s indicative of the way we’ve streamlined the application process.”

Previously, the group offered four grant programs with unique application and evaluation procedures. The council paid $5,000 for a consolidated online replacement.

“The process was simply so disorganized,” Gillig said. “We used to rely on paper applications and paper forms, and that just quickly became so incredibly unwieldy.”

In particular, the amount in awarded research grants so far has risen to $31,780 across 41 grants. Roughly $26,100 was awarded last year. There have been 167 applications, while there were around 100 by March last year.

“Part of this follows the sort of ebbs and flow of graduate enrollment,” Gillig said. “At certain times, there are simply more students at the dissertation phase or the [post-comprehensive examination] phase that they’re ready to focus more intently on their research, but I do think students are sort of dreaming bigger in terms of their dissertation proposals, in terms of the of the data and the experiments they want to do.”

Eugene Parker, a fourth-year doctoral student in educational policy and leadership studies, applied for and received a research grant.

“It was an easy process,” he said. “It was pretty straightforward. The application was simple and easy to complete.”

Parker said he will use the grant to aid his dissertation. He did not apply for a grant last year because it was not necessary.

In addition, the Executvie Council has received 492 travel grant applications, up from approximately 300 last year. The council has awarded 179 travel grant applications, totaling $49,600 this year. 

The council has received 25 service applications, up from 10 last year, and awarded 14 of the applicants, which totaled $5,425. Last year, the group gave out $37,000 for travel and $9,000 for service.

The council will dole out up to $100,000 this school year. It uses money it receives from student activity fees for grants, some of which rolled over from the previous year because of lower program interest and other reasons.

“When we provide any type of funding … not every dollar we allocate ends up being used for whatever reason whether they receive funding from other sources, they spend less than had originally budgeting, or some combination of those things,” Gillig said. “We usually have money left over at the end of the year.”

The Executive Council has completed six cycles of funding approval with one remaining, an increase over previous years. The last cycle’s data still must be sorted.

“My predecessors were unable to complete all of the funding cycles,” Gillig said. “This year is the first year in memory that we’ve had so many funding cycles.”

One university officials is pleased at the increase.

“It’s great that they are able to do that,” said Graduate College Dean John Keller. “Anytime there’s an increased level of support for graduate students, that’s a good thing.”

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