Financial Assistance


M.A. Lit student Xavier Navarro giving workshop on creative writing at UPR Humacao

M.A. Lit  Research Assistant Xavier Navarro giving workshop on creative writing at UPR Humacao


A. Types of Aid

In general, there are four types of financial aid available to graduate students:

1. Graduate assistantships

The department currently offers research assistantships (PEAFS) and teaching assistantships (Proyecto Piloto).

RAs assist faculty working on permanent research projects such as the editing of Sargasso, the Richardson research projects, or the annual Eastern Island Culture conference (November) and the Caribbean 2000/Doctoral Studies symposium (February-March). This type of assistantship provides the student with valuable experience in research-related professional duties in literature or linguistics under the guidance of faculty members.

Research assistantships require eighteen hours of work weekly while taking 9 credits of graduate courses during the semester or being enrolled in ENGL 6900 or 6895-96 or 8099 Research, or 8890 Writing of Doctoral Critical Essays, or 8891-92 Dissertation I-II. The student is exempted from the cost of registration and receives a monthly stipend. Students apply to the Graduate Coordinator as soon as they are admitted or at any stage in their degree work in order to be considered.

During the past few years, the department has been able to offer teaching assistantships to Ph.D. students. They typically cover conversational English, grammar, or introductory undergraduate courses in literature and linguistics, although other courses may be possible depending on departmental need and the doctoral student’s preparation in a given field. Note: Until recurrent funding is found for these positions, Ph.D. applicants should not count on their being available.

2. Supplementary financial aid (Programa de Ayuda Suplementaria–PAS) and Legislative fellowships

Both of these are grants based on need (see below) and may be combined. PAS can grant up to $2,000 per year for full time (9 credits or more per semester) graduate students and the Legislative Fellowships can give up to $1,000 per year. Students carrying between 4 and 7 credit hours are eligible for lesser amounts. Application must be made to the Student Financial Aid Office at the Dean of Students’ office. Newly admitted students have up to fifteen days after receiving notice of admission to apply. Other students should apply by April 30 for aid starting in August of the following academic year. Late applications will not be considered. General requirements for both are listed below and also apply to student loans (no. 3) and work-study (no. 4).

3. Student loans. There are two types of student loans:

a. Stafford Loans (Federally guaranteed student loans, which the students pay back after graduation). Applications for these low interest loans are made through the Student Financial Aid Office. These loans are based on student need, and the amounts that may be borrowed from a participating bank are determined according to a standard table of average costs and the federal limits established by law. A booklet called The Student Guide, Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education, available at the Student Financial Aid section of the Dean of Students’ Office, gives detailed information.

b. Perkins Loans (especially low interest loans, repaid after graduation). Graduate and undergraduate students with exceptional financial need, as determined by the University, are eligible for these loans. The students must apply through the Financial Aid Office.

c. Work-study program. These federally funded programs provide jobs for students who need financial aid. They pay at least the current Federal minimum hourly wage, but graduate students may be paid a weekly or monthly salary. Application is made through the Student Financial Aid Office.

d. Scholarships/fellowships. Through the Dean of Graduate Studies (DEGI), qualifying students may apply for Merit Scholarships as well as Dissertation Fellowships. For more information visit their website at: .

B. General Requirements for Financial Aid

All graduate students who apply for financial aid (but not assistantships) must fulfill the following requirements:

1. Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident in the U.S.
2. Carry a minimum of eight credit hours in graduate courses per semester. For the purpose of determining full load, a student is considered full time when enrolled in 6900 or 6895-6896 or the 8000-level Research, Examination, and Dissertation courses.
3. Fulfill the academic progress requirement. The Council of Higher Education defines this progress as having passed 50% of the credit hours taken. The Student Financial Aid Office can provide further details.
4. Show economic need, based on a formula that takes into account the family and student contributions to the cost of education. The approximate cost of tuition, books, fees, room, board and transportation are deducted from this amount. 
5. Show evidence of having been admitted to the Graduate School.

Students are also encouraged to apply for scholarships from outside sources such as the Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships that are periodically announced. Several offices on campus provide help in preparing documentation required by application forms for external funding. At the College of Humanities the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs can provide information, which is also posted in the Department.

In addition to the Teaching Assistantship program, there are other sources of financial aid available through the University, as mentioned above: (1) Legislative Fellowships, (2) Federal Guaranteed Bank Loans, and (3) the Work-Study Program. Information about these is available in the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (DEGI) and the Dean of Students’ Office.

Employment Prospects:

Most graduate students in the Program in English are either already teaching or, upon graduation, able to find teaching positions at the high school, junior college, or college level. The English Department cannot guarantee that the M.A. or Ph.D. degree will lead directly to employment, nor does the Graduate Committee conduct an employment service. However, the graduate faculty is at times made aware of openings at private schools, junior colleges, and local colleges and universities, and makes such information available to M.A. and Ph.D. candidates and graduates.



Professor Thomas Sullivan was a distinguished faculty member who dedicated his life to teaching and research. In his honor, the Graduate Committee has established the Thomas Sullivan Award granted yearly to outstanding M.A. graduate students who minimally a) complete all degree requirements in five years; b) receive a PS (“sobresaliente”) in the comprehensive examination; c) finish his/her course work with a 3.9 average or higher; d) receive a PS (“sobresaliente”) in ENGL 6895 (Thesis) or ENGL 6891-4 (Research Essay in Literature or LInguistics).


To be awarded to a Ph.D. student who has excelled in coursework, research, comprehensive examinations and dissertation.

Candida Gonzalez accepting the check for the Joan Fayer award from Interim Director Alma Simounet

Candida Gonzalez accepting the check for the 2014  Joan Fayer award from Interim Director Alma Simounet