Searching for Awards

[Narrator: Lisa Gagnon] Hello, and welcome to the University at Buffalo Fellowships and Scholarships 101 series. The topic of this video is searching for awards.

First of all, let’s talk about fellowships vs. scholarships. What’s the difference? Fellowships are more likely than scholarships to include tuition, a stipend and/or travel funds. Scholarships may include these benefits, or they may be pots of money with no additional obligations or resources. Both types of awards are worth applying for and can be included on your resume. Another distinction to make is between need-based and merit-based awards. Need-based awards require the applicant to demonstrate financial need. While a higher GPA may give you an advantage, it is not the main focus of the selection process. Merit-based awards, on the other hand, do not take financial need into consideration and instead prioritize academic achievements.

Next, we will talk about internal vs. external funding, or where the money comes from. Internal funding is money distributed directly from UB. Internal funding is typically awarded upon admission to the university. You would see any money that UB is offering you in your admission letter. However, there are some smaller awards available for current UB students, which we will talk about later in this video. External funding, on the other hand, is money that comes from outside of UB. External funding may come from local, state, national or international sources. Our office is responsible for supporting students as they apply to external awards. Remember, any award you receive is a stepping-stone to later awards. You will not only get better at applying, but future scholarship committees will see that you have already won awards.

So, how do you go about finding internally funded opportunities? First, check out the UB Scholarship Portal. The UB Office of Financial Aid has created a scholarship database for internal awards. You can create a profile and search for awards that might be a good fit for you. Second, use your academic department or school as a resource. Academic department websites often have valuable information about potentially funded faculty research and scholarships offered by the department. Third, the study abroad office has several scholarships you can apply for to help fund your international experience. Fourth, the UB Honors College offers tuition scholarships to incoming freshmen and funding for research and creativity, study abroad, and academic enrichment. If you are a UB student not already in the Honors College, you can apply to the Advanced Honors College. Finally, the Experiential Learning Network (ELN) Project Portal is another great resource. Look for funded research and project opportunities on and off campus.

Now, let’s talk about using the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships website. You can start searching for awards by using the Find Funding page on our website. You can search by the award name in alphabetical order, by level of study (so whether you are a sophomore or PhD student), by the application deadline, or by the category. We list awards for students in STEM, the social sciences, the humanities and awards open to international students. The find other awards tab contains links to other universities’ search engines and other useful UB webpages. When searching in another university’s search engine, look for awards that do not require you to be an enrolled student at the institution. Another useful tool is the Sponsored Programs Information Network (or SPIN) that is a search engine for faculty, staff and students. To help you get started, look for videos for setting up searches in the tools section. Make sure searches are set to individual, not institutional, and email any questions to

Here are some other resources for external funding. ProFellow is a scholarship website with a database, blog and email newsletter. Reminder: Do not pay for scholarship services online. UB and the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships have many free resources. Second, check out relevant community foundations. Many cities and towns have scholarships for students who are either from the area or attending a college or university in the area. One example is the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Next, join relevant professional organizations and honors societies. These can potentially provide not only funding, but networking and conference opportunities. Finally, Scholly is a scholarship search phone application that can serve as one more resource in your funding search.

Things to keep in mind when searching for awards: Every award has a distinct due date, so it’s important to stay organized. Every award has unique application components, such as a transcript, letters of recommendation or essays. Start searching and preparing eight to 12 months in advance of the deadline and when you need the money. Often, applications for the fall are due in the winter or even the fall semester before. You should be continuously looking for appropriate awards. If you cannot find anything that applies to you during one search, take a break and come back to it again in a few weeks. Graduate students should look for funding at the same time as applying for programs. Don’t wait until you are admitted. Ask about internal funding options at graduate programs such as teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), graduate assistantships (GAs) or training grants. Also, keep in mind that there are awards for every stage of the PhD process: pre-doctoral, dissertation and post-doctoral. Finally, connect the dots of your story to match the mission of the fellowship and consider your goals both now and in the future. Many students are understandably looking for funding to cover the expenses of higher education, but also think about your longer-term goals, and how a fellowship or scholarship can help you attain them.

Another way to utilize our services is to join a development program. The Office of Fellowships and Scholarships runs multi-week programs for undergraduate and graduate students. [Visit our Attend a Workshop page for detailed information.] The Spark program is an eight-week leadership development program for freshmen and sophomores offered during the fall and spring semesters. Session topics include networking, a writing workshop, community engagement and finding research opportunities. This picture is from the spring 2020 Spark networking night. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Fulbright Workshops are multi-week programs for students interested in applying for the NSF or Fulbright in the fall. They are offered during the spring semester and summer session. Students learn the details of the application process and receive support as they begin to prepare their applications. Finally, we hold a PhD fellowship boot camp offered during winter and summer sessions.

Now that we have talked a little bit about funding for graduate school, here is how you can connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships for more information and support during your scholarship journey. Connect with us via phone at 716-645-9100 or via email at Our on-campus office is located in 24 Capen Hall. Let’s get social! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter @UBFellowships, LinkedIn or YouTube. Or, find us on the web. You can also make an appointment with one of our advisors on our website. On the bottom of this slide, you can see Office of Fellowships and Scholarships Director Elizabeth Colucci, who works with students on general graduate awards and STEM awards. Assistant Director Megan Stewart works with students on general undergraduate awards and international study awards.

Thank you for watching this video. Check out the other Fellowships and Scholarships 101 videos on searching for awards, major external awards, and becoming a more competitive applicant.