Thursday, November 10, 2005

On the Subject of Funding for Low-Residency MFA Programs

Another topic that comes up quite a bit concerns funding possibilities (and general lack thereof) for students who want to attend low-residency MFA programs. In this post, which I'll add to the blog links for future reference, I want to begin listing a few helpful notes and resources for potential (and maybe even current) low-res students trying to negotiate the MFA's financial costs.

To begin, here's an observation: at least two relatively new low-res programs charge significantly reduced tuition for in-state residents. One of these programs also offers reductions for "regional" residents. Check out the University of Nebraska's program and Murray State University's program (the program is based in Kentucky but also charges less for writers from Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana):

Also, according to its website, the "New England College MFA Program in Poetry is deeply committed to offering merit scholarships for MFA poetry students who qualify based on their financial need. These merit-based scholarships are awarded annually on the basis of either academic achievement or artistic accomplishment with consideration for financial need." (NEC information updated July 2, 2008)

Check back to see what's been added here. And click here for some more information on applying to (and choosing) MFA programs.


A few more findings:

1) According to the Wilkes University Creative Writing Financial Aid page, two graduate assistantships are awarded for each class. The Graduate Assistants "will receive a small stipend and full tuition remission for a maximum of two years." There's also a fellowship, the Norris Church Mailer Fellowship, which "is awarded annually to a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program who has artistic promise."

2) According to the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers Financial Aid page, minority students are eligible for the Holden Minority Scholarship, which "provides full tuition and residency fees for a minority student's entire degree program." Look also for information on loans, MFA grants, and the Eric Mathieu King Scholarship. (Warren Wilson info. updated July 2, 2008)

3) And according to the Spalding University Master of Fine Arts in Writing "Tuition and Fees" page, several scholarships (about $500) go to new students. Funds ($500-$1000 grants) are also available specifically for minority students. One creative nonfiction scholarship may also be available. Returning students are eligible for Graduate Student Assistantships, which provide variable amounts of tuition remission. [Spalding info. updated here June 22, 2007]

Please check back for more information. And if you have any other resources to add, please do!


Not quite sure how low-residency students may fit in here, but when you see the amount involved, you'll probably want to find out.

The Institute for Humane Studies Film & Fiction Scholarships offer up to $10,000 in tuition and stipend and are awarded to support students who meet the following criteria:

1) Are pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree in filmmaking, fiction writing, or playwriting.

2) Possess "a demonstrated interest in classical liberal ideas and their application in contemporary society."

3) Display "the desire, motivation, and creative ability to succeed in their chosen profession."

Application deadline: January 16, 2006.

For more information, click here.


Now here's something--but it's limited to women applicants who are resident in South Carolina.

The Alice Conger Patterson Scholarship is administered by Emrys Foundation. It "is designed to encourage South Carolina women to pursue continuing education or to develop a creative endeavor in order to enhance a career in the arts or to change career direction." It "reflects the goals of the Emrys Foundation, whose mission is to promote excellence in the arts, especially literary, visual, and musical works by women and minorities."

To apply, you must be (again) a woman resident of South Carolina; you must be a U.S. citizen with a Social Security number; you must be 35 years old or older; and you "must have demonstrated an interest in an existing career or a new career in the arts, which the scholarship would enhance." Grants range from $500 to $1000. "Tuition grants will be made directly to any accredited academic institution." Last year the application deadline was March 1 (expect a similar one for 2006, but be sure to check for changes).

You can find more information and application instructions right here.


First, apologies about some links above. No matter how many times I try I can't seem to modify those that have changed since I first gave them to you. Maybe Blogger has a an expiration date where edits are concerned? (Any advice on this is welcome.) But having just updated our primer on low-residency MFA programs this weekend (including program links and contact information), I know some of this information has changed. (Update to this update: I've since figured out how to edit very old links.)

On the other hand, while checking all the program sites I've also found some new funding information that I am able to share here.

1) StonecoastMFA Scholarship Opportunities include "partial scholarships" for Maine Residents, Cultural Diversity, Social Action, and Academic Merit.

2) Pacific University offers students who have been in the program more than one semester the opportunity to apply for Teaching Associate positions. "Teaching associates receive a financial award of approximately $3000 toinstruct a semester-long college composition or introductory creative writing course" (on the Pacific University campus in Forest Grove, Oregon. "Some smaller awards are given to graduates to assist professors in the instruction of literature and creative writing."

3) Antioch University in Los Angeles offers an Antioch Opportunity Grant for MFA Students and the Eloise Klein Healy scholarship. Details available here.


My sincere thanks go to the writer currently enrolled in a low-residency program who wrote to me with the following advice:

"I got a scholarship from my alma mater...that helped with my first year....Another student...has a similar (much larger) scholarship from...So students should always check the possibilities at their undergraduate alumni associations."

This writer also notes that s/he received an interest-free loan from the Bill Raskob Foundation."Much better deal than a Stafford!"

I welcome any other useful tips/suggestions on this topic!


Just saw this on the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA in Creative Writing Web site:
In the first phase of building its scholarship and student loan program, the Whidbey Writers Workshop is pleased to announce a full-tuition merit scholarship with the establishment of the Elizabeth George Foundation scholarship.

"Through her generosity and belief in our program Elizabeth George has given a great boost to the MFA scholarship and financial aid drive," said Nancy Ruff, board chair of the Whidbey Writers Workshop. The organization is seeking additional support to aid students.

In addition to the Elizabeth George Foundation full scholarship of $12,000 for an incoming student that is renewable for a second year, the WWW is also building funding for half-tuition and quarter-tuition scholarships and for financial aid assistance.

"The foundation is truly pleased to be able to support WIWA's establishment of an MFA program through this scholarship," said Ms. George, who is the award-winning author of more than 20 books, including the Inspector Lynley mystery series, a book on writing and whose work has been developed for television including PBS's Mystery.

Beginning with the fall semester of 2007, the Whidbey Writers Workshop will also offer a limited number of low-interest student loans through Coastal Bank of Freeland, Washington, which will partner to provide management of the loan fund.


Over on the Poets & Writers Speakeasy a poster suggested that I mention the American Association of University Women (AAUW) "Career Development Grants" program. These "support women who hold a bachelor's degree and are preparing to advance their careers, change careers, or re-enter the work force. Special consideration is given to AAUW members, women of color, and women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in nontraditional fields." Funds do provide support for master's degree work, and are available for distance learning. Awards range from $2,000-$12,000. And the deadline is coming up soon (December 15). Note that there is an application fee here ($35 for those who are not AAUW members). You'll find more information at the AAUW Web site.


Information on the S. Portia Steele Memorial Scholarships.

According to the site, S. Portia Steele "had a keen interest in Creative Writing and always favored that endeavor." In her memory, one scholarship each year will be awarded "to a woman seeking a graduate or under-graduate degree at an accredited college or university." Exact amount of award may vary by year, but will not be less than $500. Based on merit and need.

The "ideal applicant" meets the following requirements:

1) Achieve/maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA;
2) Demonstrate financial need;
3) Seeking a baccalaureate or master's degree;
4) "The applicant must be a woman currently enrolled in good standing at an accredited College or University."

Find out more here.


"Five Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships in the amount of $15,000 will be awarded to young poets through a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry. Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the age of twenty-one and thirty-one as of March 31, 2008." Applications must be postmarked during March 2008.

Find out more here.


The new low-res MFA program in poetry at Drew University promises to offer both merit scholarships and need-based aid. "Academic Merit Scholarships range from 20% to 50% of tuition. The application for admission serves as an application for merit scholarships." Need-based aid "takes the form of loans and work-study." More about aid, and the program, here.


Update from the Sewanee School of Letters: "Thanks to the generosity of four donors, Bill and Leslye Altemeier and Rick and Willie Sommer, the School of Letters is able to offer two full tuition scholarships to public school teachers pursuing either the MA or MFA degree. If you wish to apply for one of these scholarships, please indicate that on your application and include with it a letter of recommendation from your supervisor at school, indicating how your participation in the School of Letters will benefit both you and your school." For more information, click here.

ADDED ON JUNE 10, 2010

Update received via e-mail from the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College (info also available at

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing offers four fellowships for students starting the program during the winter residency/spring semester: the Michael Steinberg Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, the Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction, the Jacqueline Woodson Fellowship for a Young People’s Writer of African or Caribbean Descent, and the Sharon Olds Fellowship for Poetry.

The Lee Hope Fellowship for Diverse Voices offers $500 to a first-semester student who begins the program during the summer residency/fall semester.

Fellowship recipients (except recipients of the Hope Fellowship) will receive a $1,000 award toward their first semester’s tuition.

Fellowships are awarded based on the quality of the applicant’s writing sample; see general application guidelines.

Fellowship applications (except applications for the Hope Fellowship) are due October 15, 2010 (not a postmark date; materials must be received in our offices before or on October 15).

Fellowship applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early. Notification letters will be mailed to winners only on November 1, 2010. Awards must be applied toward the winter residency/spring semester directly following acceptance; fellowships cannot be deferred or applied toward a summer residency/fall semester start.

Applications for the Hope Fellowship are due April 11, 2011 (not a postmark date; materials must be received in our offices before or on April 11). Fellowship applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early. Notification letters will be mailed to winners only by May 5, 2011. Awards must be applied toward the summer residency/fall semester directly following acceptance; fellowships cannot be deferred or applied toward a winter residency/spring semester start.

MFA students who wish to be considered for a Pine Minor College need-based scholarship and/or federal student loans must apply for financial aid.... This is a separate process from the admission application. Roughly twenty percent of our students receive need-based scholarships.


Jennifer Oladipo said...

Thanks so much for the info, and for continuing to update it. This isn't easy to find, as you know.

Erika D. said...

Jennifer, I really appreciate your comment. You are inspiring me to do more updating as soon as I can!

Stela said...

Hey Erica,

Great work done by you. It's not easy to find the updates about that.

Thanks !


collecting the information for useful degree programs for my blog.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for this information. I'm finding it very useful. And in case you're still updating, the program I'm considering, the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA program (from Eastern Kentucky University) offers one paid Graduate Assistant position per academic year.