Many planning students receive financial aid during their two years of study. Upon applying, students are reviewed for a research assistantship on-campus. Receiving an assistantship provides graduate students with tuition reduction to $1030 per semester and a stipend of approximately $3500. While all students are reviewed for assistantships, priority is given to students who apply by March 1st. First year students typically work as graduate assistants, although some first-year students opt to work off-campus as Public Service Assistants (PSA). Second-year students typically work off-campus for a planning-related agency as a PSA. However, a first year assistantship does not guarantee that a second year assistantship will be provided. Courses in MCRP are scheduled for three days a week to allow students the ability to work as Graduate Assistants and Public Service Assistants.
Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 9 credit hours. Departmental Graduate Assistants are required to work a minimum of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks and a total of 150 hours per semester. A salary is provided, including a significant tuition reduction. These are typically for first year students with limited planning experience. These assistants are usually assigned to professors, the library, and the department for various tasks, including some research and technical planning tasks.
A Public Service Assistantship is a form of work-study and requires a student to work outside the University for a planning-related agency or firm. A PSA entitles the student to a tuition reduction. A PSA also provides an hourly wage, although the rate will vary by entity. Students are required to work for the entity 15 hours a week for 15 weeks for a total of 225 hours per semester. The advantage of this form of financial aid is the practical professional experience gained in the process. Students may arrange to do their internship with the same employer while earning a summer salary. Public service assistants are able to show excellent work experience when applying for employment upon graduation. These positions typically require an automobile for transportation throughout the metro area up to a 60-mile radius.
Research Assistants are also available for students to participate with faculty members on funded research projects through the department. Placement is based on availability of funds and the related skills of the student.
When funds are available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, qualified income-eligible and minority students are eligible through the program to receive a two-year grant working at three local planning agencies during the school year and summer. Students receive a salary in addition to tuition reduction/reimbursement and reimbursements for other costs of study. This is a need-based grant and is awarded to the Program on a yearly basis through HUD in Washington D.C. Students are required to work 15 hours (two days) per week for 15 weeks per semester for a total of 225 hours of work. The Program Director and Program's HUD Program Administrator review applicants for potentially eligible students.
Minority graduate students, especially from South Carolina, may receive up to $5,000 annually. Contact the Program Director for details: Dr. Cliff Ellis.
An array of funding is available for graduate students. Contact the Financial Aid Office at 864-656-2280.