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The How and Why of Giving

1. I’m interested in supporting graduate students but don’t know where to start. How can I help?

Any gift will be of great use.  If you provide an unrestricted gift, you can be sure the Graduate College will use it to provide direct support to worthy graduate students, whether for fellowships, scholarships or travel grants.

2. What does a fellowship provide? What would my gift provide?

A fellowship is merit-based aid awarded to students that provides a montly stipend over a specified term. Whether your choice is to provide a gift or establish an endowment, the Graduate College can coordinate the use of the funds to their full advantage.

3. I want to give where the need is greatest. Are there certain academic areas that have greater needs for fellowship funding? For scholarly travel funding?  

There are several areas of great need – Completion Fellowships are particularly important to doctoral students, as are fellowships to broaden participation.  Travel funding for both master’s and doctoral students, and campus level funding for students in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences are greatly needed as well.

Graduate College funding has particular benefits for programs with fewer outside resources. These programs (such as those in the fine arts and humanities) are able to identify outstanding, deserving students and nominate these students for Graduate College funding. Our centralized funding opportunities provide for recognition of outstanding graduate students at a campus level.

4. I didn’t know the Graduate College awarded fellowships. I thought they always were given by departments on campus. Can I give to both? 

There are many opportunities to help support graduate students at Illinois. Providing funding to a particular graduate program as well as the Graduate College could serve two important purposes. Funding for the Graduate College 2017 Initiative supports campus level recognition that augments the capacity of departments to attract students. Funding to the Graduate College provides support to students across disciplines. We fund both doctoral and master's students with exceptional promise and ability. 

Graduate College funding has particular benefits for programs with fewer outside resources. These programs (such as those in the fine arts and humanities) are able to identify outstanding, deserving students and nominate these students for Graduate College funding. Our centralized funding opportunities provide for recognition of outstanding graduate students at a campus level.

5.  Why should I direct my gift to the Graduate College 2017 initiative?

Funding is needed to keep Illinois competitive in the national and international market.  With growing enrollments in graduate programs, the Graduate College serves more than 10,000 students each year (a quarter of the student body). Enrollments are growing but fellowships have not. The 2017 initiative seeks to raise $4 million in new funding for graduate students by the year 2017. 

Our two recruiting fellowships provide campus level funding that enables us to partner with graduate programs in efforts to recruit outstanding students from diverse backgrounds. Toward this effort, we award one, two and three-year fellowships that provide stipends and tuition and fee support to attract prospective students. 

6. What is the goal of the 2017 initiative?

The goal of the 2017 initiative is to raise private gifts for the direct benefit of University of Illinois graduate students. An increase in fellowship and travel funding would enable the Graduate College, indeed the University of Illinois, to attract top students to our graduate programs, get them off to a solid start, as well as help them make progress toward their degree, conduct their research, complete their programs and move forward to their careers as educators, scholars, and professionals.    

7. What is the benefit to a student who receives a Graduate College fellowship?

Graduate College fellowships are prestigious, competitive and often provide multiple years of funding. Fellowship funding is merit-based financial aid awarded to recognize high academic accomplishment and promise. Fellowship funding, with stipend and tuition and fee support enables students to focus on their coursework and research.  

8. I am passionate about supporting African American, Latino or other racial/ethnic minority students who want to study at the graduate level. How can I designate my gift to support underrepresented students?

You can support the campus efforts to broaden participation through your designated gift to Priority #3: Broaden Participation. Our two recruiting fellowships (Illinois Distinguished Fellowship and Graduate College Fellowship) provide funding that enables us to partner with graduate programs to recruit outstanding students from diverse backgrounds.  

9. I know that fellowships change over time, but can you tell me the typical amount and length of recruiting and completion fellowships provided by the Graduate College?  I’m trying to understand how much your fellowships help the student.  

Currently, the recruiting fellowships provide a stipend of $12,000 for master’s students and $25,000 for doctoral students.  Graduate College fellowships can be awarded for one, two or three years.

10. When I was a graduate student my support came from assistantships (teaching or research). Is it different today?

Many graduate students are supported through employment such as teaching or research assistantships. These appointments do not provide all of the funding that may be necessary for a student, such as travel funding.

11. How can I help grad students get where they need to go? I understand that graduate students may need to travel to do research or to present their work at conferences.

Make a gift to 2017 Priority #2: Scholarly Travel, which would go toward supporting students in their research travel or travel to conferences/professional meetings to present their work. You may choose to support students at the Master’s and/or Doctoral level. You can give to dissertation research travel, master’s research travel or conference travel.

12. When I give to the 2017 initiative, can you pool my money with that of other donors to have a greater impact?

Yes, unless otherwise specified, we will pool your funds with others who give to the same fund (e.g. recruiting fellowship) to have the greatest possible impact.

13. My career would not have been as successful without my U of I graduate experience. How can I make a gift that will have a lasting impact on graduate students?

We are happy to help you determine what will work best for your situation.  You may reach one of our Gift Planning experts to explore options. Please call the University of Illinois Foundation at 217.333.6286 and ask for Gift Planning to discuss endowments and other giving vehicles.  Or visit their website at uif.plannedgifts.org. 

14. Who do I call with a question about a gift I’ve already made to the Graduate College?

Call Sharee Robinson at 217-333-0035.

16. Who do I call with questions about how to make a gift to the Graduate College 2017 initiative?

Call the University of Illinois Foundation at 217-333-0810.