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First Steps

Many students feel overwhelmed and intimidated by external funding. That's why we've created five easy steps to help you begin your search. We encourage you to take the first step early in your graduate career so you can position yourself to be competitive for funding opportunities as they arise.

Step 1: Discover

First things first: learn the funding landscape. It may seem like a different world, but with a little digging, you'll soon understand the timeline and process for finding and applying for funding. Take advantage of the Shop Talks, information sessions, and workshops our office offers.

Step 2: Identify

Once you understand the funding landscape, you'll find it easier to find funding relevant to you, your studies, and your future. Not only do you have unlimited access to the Graduate Funding Opportunities (GFO) and Pivot™ databases, but we also publicize various opportunities via the GradBulletin and Twitter. Make sure to check your email – our external funding coordinators even send emails directly to students to notify them of discipline-specific opportunities. 

Step 3: Confirm

Closely review the application materials or proposal guidelines to determine if you are eligible and if you need university approval. Do the application instructions include language such as “the official applicant is the university, not the student” or “requires the signature of the authorized signing officer"? If so, you might be eligible, but you cannot actually apply on your own. In addition, some opportunities, such as grants, are considered "sponsored research" and must be submitted through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP). The external funding coordinators are the liaisons to ORSP for graduate students and can assist you in initiating and routing your proposal and seeking required approvals. 

flow chart of funding process


Did you know that Texas State does not allow a graduate student to serve as a principal investigator (PI)? Talk with your advisor about potential funding opportunities early in the process. Your advisor may need to:

  • write a letter of recommendation for you 
  • serve as the PI on your research proposal
  • approve your proposal as part of the routing process

Your advisor can also provide insight about the funder and the content of your application package. Ideally, your preparations should include input from both your advisor and our external funding coordinators.  

Step 5: Consult

Once you have completed the previous steps, you are ready to consult with our external funding coordinators! During the appointment, they will:

  • review the application guidelines with you
  • develop a timeline to keep you on track
  • provide tips for strategically crafting your materials

If needed, we will schedule follow-up consultations to help you prepare a budget, create a project management task list, and review drafts of application materials, so be sure to schedule your initial appointment as far in advance as possible. Please review the appointment policy before making an appointment.