How to Receive Financial Support through Student Assistantships, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

iStudent Blog

Over the past week, a couple of postings for Research Assistants, sent from the SLISAlert email notification system, have landed in my inbox. Curious what student assistantships are and how to get one? Let me explain.

SLIS students admitted into the MLIS or MARA programs may apply for paid student assistant positions that involve working with faculty on a wide range of projects, from assisting with research, to working with the SLIS Web Team, to supporting faculty who represent SLIS in Second Life. In fact, this very blog that you are reading is written by two student assistants – me (Julia Chambers) and Serenah McKay, who just joined our School this Spring.

You, too, are eligible to apply for some student assistantships right from the get-go, and it’s a good way to gain experience and help pay your tuition. Of course, not all student assistantships will be a match for your skills or interests. Some student assistant positions, for instance, require students to have completed certain courses – often LIBR 285 (Research Methods). Those opportunities may have to wait until you are further into the program. All position announcements include a list of required skills and experience, just as you’d find with any job posting.

All openings for student assistantships are sent through the SLISAlert notification system. You might want to make sure these alerts go to the email account you visit frequently so you won’t miss an opportunity. The deadlines for applications are often fast-tracked, and they are quite competitive, as you can imagine. Details on how to apply are always included in the email alert.

Another beauty of our online program: Most of these positions can be done remotely and do not require students to live near SJSU. I’ve spoken with an Oregon-based student assistant for the School’s Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration (VCARA), a San Diego, CA-based research assistant conducting grant-funded research on young adult spaces in libraries, and just recently for the SLIS Community Profiles, a Korean-based student who last year held a student assistantship for the SLIS Virtual Internships Coordinator. (Her profile coming soon.)

As a student assistant, I can attest to the convenience of working from home and the job-related experiences these opportunities provide. Often, they are also a great way to expand your professional network, which as you may have already guessed, is an excellent way to open the doors to future job opportunities.

Of course, there are other ways to fund your degree: Financial Aid and Scholarships. To be considered for maximum funding for financial aid, pay attention to the May 31 deadline for all documents. (You can read more about that here.) Getting the initial paperwork in order is a tedious process, but just give yourself the time to do it if you need it. Subsequent requests as you work your way through the program are much less labor intensive.

As new students, you won’t be eligible for some of the SLIS-based scholarships, which require students to have completed certain courses. However, keep your eyes open for new SLIS scholarship opportunities, as School leaders are always working hard to expand the range of scholarships available to SLIS students. There are also many scholarships available from agencies outside of our School that specifically target students just entering the program. You can read more about all your options here. And if you want some inspiration, browse some of our Community Profile stories about past scholarship winners.

I’d recommend getting familiar with these financial aid and scholarship options right away, and keep your eye on your email for those SLISAlerts! If you want some informal advice regarding student assistantships from a current student assistant (me), post your questions or comments here!