Currently an undergraduate in computer science, I am pursuing an Ms+PhD program in oceanography at some top US universities.

I recently got feedback from a PI that I had an interview with before applying, who told me that my "application was ranked highly" and "[they] are currently figuring out funding situations", and that "If [I] find out about [my] own funding at a later date, [I should] please be in touch as this changes opportunities".

Unfortunately I only found out about the effect fellowships and scholarships have on admission late into the game, and as such was only able to apply to the NSF GRSP and one other small fellowship.

What can I do, one week before admission results drop, to improve my funding situation last minute?

I am not a women or minority. I would be able to self-fund part of my PhD but was advised against doing so (and the departments won't allow it anyway).

  • 1
    What are the reasons for a department to not allow candidates to self-fund their PhD program? Seems unusual to me. Feb 12, 2021 at 22:24
  • This seems pretty hard. Can you TA in the department or a related department?
    – Buffy
    Feb 12, 2021 at 22:36
  • 1
    @DmitrySavostyanov it favours rich people.
    – donkey
    Feb 12, 2021 at 22:40
  • @Buffy TAship is included in their existing funding options I believe.
    – donkey
    Feb 12, 2021 at 22:41
  • 2
    I read this as saying that other funding like TAs are more limited and you have more chance of admission if you have other funding. It may not be possible. I would effectively treat this as a likely rejection at this point, they're just leaving a door a crack open for you. It's not necessarily a crack that can be squeezed through in the time you have.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 12, 2021 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


What can I do, one week before admission results drop, to improve my funding situation last minute?

Nothing. If you do not like the results, try again next year.

Successful application to doctoral programs at US universities requires many months of advance planning.


It seems to me as if you will be offered a TA, possibly an RA, position. This will be sufficient and will cover costs and give you a stipend. I think the note about external funding is a "what if" so that if you do come up with something then you should tell them so that the funding you would otherwise get can go to another person.

I wouldn't take it at all as something that requires action on your part at this time. If you were "ranked highly" then you should be fine.

The message from them just seems to be informational and asking you to keep them informed as well. No additional action is needed or expected. Given the timing of grant proposals, nothing you could do now could affect a decision to admit you or not.

  • I was waitlisted, so it seems that I will need to come up with some funding myself.
    – donkey
    Mar 16, 2021 at 8:32
  • I doubt that it means that. You are waiting for someone else to turn down an offer. If that happens the funds that are being reserved for them become free again.
    – Buffy
    Mar 16, 2021 at 11:50

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