Financial woes. How to sustain yourself financially while doing a PhD

After doing Masters, we are expected to join the workforce and become financially independent. Doctoral students, on the contrary, choose a path of delayed career growth with limited financial means. For those who have joined a PhD Programme, they have to deal with the disappointment of having to curb their expenses. For those with families to take care of PhD almost becomes an additional burden. Funding often is insecure and inconsistent leaving you under financial bills and stress.

Adding to that PhD is a long journey of 4-5 years. The good news is you don’t have to live the life of a pauper to pursue your dream. There are various scholarships which are instituted by the government, funding agencies, etc which pay handsomely. But the key to remember is that scholarship can be a royal pain as it is released in interval and requires you to be in the good books of your supervisor.

Listed below are avenues for researchers to have that cherished financial stability while doing PhD

Government instituted fellowships and grants

There are a multitude of fellowships available, UGC-NET JRF being the most prominent. Apart from JRF, UGC also provides fellowship to NET and non-NET fellows. Check out the list of fellowships offered by UGC before applying. There are several other fellowships run by various government ministries including Ministry of Human Resources and agencies like ICSSR, ICHR, ICMR, etc. Not only do they pay handsomely, they add credibility to your resume too. Pay attention to the websites where you will find funding opportunities for your doctoral programme.

Fellowships offered by the Institution

Some institutions in the field of Engineering and Management offer their own fellowship which can cover your basic costs. Some institutes offer scholarships which won’t make you regret leaving your cushioned job to pursue your big dream.  Do check out the doctoral scholarship assistance offered by the institute before applying.

Part-time projects

While most fellowship programmes have a strict no work policy, some colleges have a more relaxed approach. To cover your living cost, you can work on part-time projects or teaching assistantship offered by the institute. Sometimes your supervisor can help you in getting you a project assistantship. Apart from providing you financial assistance, the add experience to your CV. Keep on a look out for such opportunities.

Other means

There are several innovative ways to earn money. In this age of e-learning gaining prominence and a host of websites offering courses, online tuition, coaching, etc  one can easily become a teacher. For instance, a friend runs a YouTube channel on Coaching for NET in Management. Or you can join as a freelance offering your research skills to the needy. Trust me you can find lots of them online!

Supervisors’ approval is required for release of fellowship so keep your work up to date. Report to them regularly. If you are lucky your supervisor will help you in getting you a job or a project which will help you sustain financially provided it does not hamper your PhD. Keep networking with your peers, it helps in more than one way. Whatever you choose to do remember, your supervisor is your mentor and they can be your best friends! Keep them in loop.