COVER STORY SIDEBAR
How a Cornell graduate education is funded
It's not enough for some of the nation's most talented graduate students to want to come to Cornell. Ways must be found to finance their education.
The answers to that challenge lie in internal and external funding, as well as with academic support for skills to succeed and prepare students for professional life.
Graduate fellowships are a priority, both in the "Cornell Now" campaign and at the Graduate School. Their goals are to fund every first-year research Ph.D. student with a graduate fellowship and to match the number of years of merit-based fellowship support offered by peer institutions to improve Cornell's ability to recruit the best students. Funding packages and professional development programs also are offered to attract the most diverse student body possible. Currently, Cornell spends more than $37 million a year in total fellowship support (including diversity fellowship programs) to graduate students, enhanced with $600,000 from the State University of New York to support diversity goals.
The Annual Fund, other gifts and foundation support such as the Sloan and Colman Family Foundation fellowships also play a role, as do teaching assistantships, research assistantships provided through external sponsors, travel grants and health insurance, this last averaging almost $1,900 per student annually. Most fellowship funding in the humanities comes from Cornell, Graduate School Dean Barbara Knuth says, since there are fewer outside funding opportunities for these students.
Only a fraction of Cornell's graduate students are funded externally. Even in the sciences, external funding sources "wax and wane," says Knuth. Major supporters are the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation and the Social Sciences Research Council.
"We want to continue to have strong and robust programs, enhanced with additional graduate fellowship funding, so we can support our students and continue to diversify our graduate and professional student body," Knuth says. To this end, the campaign's goals include raising $88.8 million in endowed funds and $11.2 million in current-use funds for graduate fellowships and professional school scholarships.