Show me the money by Seth Abrahams

I read this article, Show Me the Money, A Roundup of the Top-Funded MFA Programs in the latest issue of Poets&Writers, and it has got me to thinking….my family is struggling financially right now, along with the rest of the country, and so when I read Seth’s article chronicling the best funded MFA programs, I couldn’t help thinking what a difference a fully funded program would make. For example, Vanderbilt’s MFA program offers the following: 

For first year students, the University Fellowship includes:

A full tuition benefit (valued at $34,400)
A $6,000 stipend
A $3,250 salary for assisting in the Writing Studio
And health insurance ($1,938)

First year University Fellowships may be enhanced by University Graduate Fellowships, topping up awards given by the Graduate School, which may be retained for the second year.

I am thrilled with my MFA at Queens (great faculty, great week long workshops sessions twice a year), but a low-res program can’t offer the same kind of benefits. At a program like Vanderbilt, I would also get college teaching experience which would give me a leg up in my post-MFA job search. Again, something a low-res can’t give me. I am teaching at the community education center now, and maybe that’s enough experience-wise, but it’s not enough money-wise. I would have to move my family (new house, new schools) and maybe (probably) that is not worth the effort, but my husband could work anywhere and our kids are young. 

I’m just not sure what to do. Maybe I wouldn’t even get in. I would need to take the GRE too-yuck! I’m happy where I am right now, so if I didn’t get in I would be fine, but I’d need to look for a job too…the deadline for Vanderbilt is January, right around the time I head to Charlotte for my residency.I need to reserve my hotel for the week since the undergrads will be back on campus at Queens ($90 a night for 6 nights)  hmmmm….maybe I’ll just ask the universe for a sign…

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