So How Do I Pay For All This?

by Julia Skinner

One thing students and potential students in nearly every field stress out about is how to pay for their education, and LIS is no different. Here is a list of places to look for support, as you embrace your new-found field of study:

Departmental scholarships/fellowships/assistantships

Your department probably has some funding lying around that students compete for yearly, and I definitely recommend giving this a look when you apply. I looked at our scholarships *after* I started, only to realize that the ones I wanted were for 1st-semester students. Ideally, you can apply for scholarships and assistantships and the like when you apply to the school; if not, write the program assistant to find out what steps you need to take to be considered! Another bonus to assistantships and fellowships, in addition to some nice funding, is great experience! You get to work closely with a faculty member and learn more about their work, gain some new skills, and hopefully get a nice recommendation out of the deal.

ALA scholarships

The American Library Association and its various divisions also offer some scholarships and awards. ALA has general scholarships, scholarships by specialty area, scholarships for support staff, and scholarships for underrepresented groups. I say apply for as many as you can–the worst they can say is no, and if you happen to get a couple scholarships, that’s even better!

Some ALA divisions also offer scholarships. LITA (Library & Information Technology Association) has a list here, and there are some for folks interested in children’s librarianship. I’m sure that other ALA divisions offer funding too, so make sure to check around the sites of those you’re a member of!

State library associations and professional organizations

Most state library associations offer a small handful of competitive scholarships for LIS students. For those of you involved in professional organizations (e.g. for special/medical libraries) either in LIS or not (e.g. a professional organizations for educators), check their websites and ask around about funding opportunities.

Odds and ends

Other options? On campus jobs (make sure to apply for work study on your FAFSA, as some folks require it) make some cash for you and give you some great experience (and potential references). Also keep your eyes peeled for one time opportunities: e.g. a scholarship to attend a conference, or an opportunity to write for a book/encyclopedia/journal, etc. Get on as many listservs as you can to stay informed about your subject area and be in the know about new opportunities (I’m on listservs for several print culture and book studies groups, along with several LIS and history groups).

FAFSA

I know, it’s loans, not grants or scholarships. But it’s good to fill it out every year whether you end up needing it or not just so you can have a backup if something falls through. I recommend filling it out as early as humanly possible so you don’t have to think about it. Also, you can add up to 10 school codes for the same FAFSA app (I did a FAFSA for all the programs I initially applied to).

Try to explore multiple avenues of funding and keep your eyes and ears open for new and exciting opportunities! Always apply if you meet the criteria; the worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get it and the best thing that can happen is that you do!

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