& funding

Finances & funding

Identify opportunities and apply for funding (e.g., fellowships, grants, scholarships). Manage finances and risks. Estimate costs and deliver projects on-budget.


Jump to section: Understanding Finances & Funding | Cultivating Financial Literacy and Funding Knowledge | Quick Guide to Finances & Funding | Taking Action | Resources | References


Understanding Finances & Funding

Financial literacy is the possession of knowledge and skills required for effective money management, which includes making informed economic and financial decisions at the personal and/or professional levels. [1] The process of funding implicates locating and securing financial resources to fund particular needs or projects, normally for a designated period of time. [2] The sources of funding in academia are either internal (from a department or unit within the institution) or external (through government agencies or private donors). Funding can be allocated to students, postdoctoral fellows, and medical residents as scholarships or fellowships. Other sources of funding include grants and stipends.


Why does it matter?

A survey showed that 42% of Canadians identified money as their highest source of stress, greater than work, health, and family obligations. [3] In addition to paying for life's necessities, graduate students have tuition and fees to add to their financial burden. Research has shown that greater financial literacy, ranging from savings and budgeting strategies to debt management, helps improve mental and physical health while increasing productivity. [4] Additionally, enhancing your financial education will help you to efficiently locate funding sources and learn about your financial rights (e.g., student stipends are non-taxable, earning tax credits, fee waivers). While typically linked with project management skills (e.g., delivering on budget), financial literacy is considered an asset for jobs in a variety of fields. [5]

In addition to financial benefits, successfully applying for or earning monetary awards are regarded as academic achievements that could boost your resumé and your chances for getting additional funding opportunities later stages in your career.


Cultivating Financial Literacy and Funding Knowledge

Many financial institutions, services, and funding agencies offer training and tools to assist students in learning how to manage their finances and to identify funding opportunities (e.g., university student aid offices, bank financial advisors, or web applications). Knowledge of budgeting strategies and debt management is critical for students—a population that generally receives a modest income while studying and has loans to repay following graduation. Estimating your current and potential financial resources (e.g., part-time income, government student loans, family, fellowships, scholarships, and lines of credit) is the first step in budgeting. To manage your debt, McGill Scholarships and Student Aid suggests a number of money-saving strategies. If you have any government loans that you acquired during a previous program, but don’t have any currently, the Scholarships and Student Aid Office can assist you with confirming your interest-free status and understanding your repayment responsibilities.

Students are advised to seek out information from funding agencies directly or through services offered to students. On- and off-campus information sessions, such as those given by federal funding agencies, provide a wealth of information about available opportunities and submission procedures. Attend grant writing workshops to learn how to write a persuasive funding proposal. Consider learning about the reviewing process of funding proposals to identify reviewers’ expectations and to better understand their perspective when they are assessing your proposal. [6] Consult theTaking Action section for suggestions.


Quick Guide to Finances & Funding

  1. Identify gaps in your finance knowledge and seek out training and/or resources to support growth in areas that are important to your financial health
  2. Develop your financial planning and management skills, and respect budget limits
  3. Understand the principles of financial management and develop commercial awareness: i.e., the understanding of how a business makes money, what customers want, and what problems exist within a business areas [7]
  4. Develop your oral and written communication skills to draft more persuasive funding proposals
  5. Identify relevant funding opportunities and procedures (e.g., application requirements, deadlines) 


Taking action

  • Workshops – McGill Scholarships and Student Aid – Frugal Scholar Workshops: A list of workshops where you will learn how to calculate costs, build a budget, prepare taxes, manage debt and finance.
  • Workshops – McGill SKILLSETS – Would You Fund It?: An opportunity to have your two-page project summary reviewed by a former Tri-council or Quebec committee reviewer in a 30 minute consultation session. Multiple sessions held each fall.
  • Workshops – McGill SKILLSETS – Financial Skills for the Real World Series: A series of workshops designed to help you improve your financial literacy. Topics range from managing debit to investing to children & money. Can be taken as individual sessions or as a series.
  • Workshops – McGill SKILLSETS – 3MT/MT180 Competition & Training Sessions: This university-wide training program will teach you how to present your research in English or French to a non-specialist audience, in three minutes or less! Participants will compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to advance to the regional, national and international levels of this world-wide competition. 3MT/MT180 happens once a year in the winter semester and is a great opportunity to develop your ability to pitch your research to future investors, funding agencies and stakeholders. 









Books, articles & reports






Funding databases & resources


As a McGill student, your participation in activities such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, and explore career options. Learn how to leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!
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