Graduate/Professional School-related Expenses

Pursuing further education through graduate or professional school is an important decision and one that should be made thoughtfully. If you are curious about pursuing graduate or professional school, begin by discussing your interest with a faculty member or career coach. Explore whether graduate or professional school is right for you, identify your goals and purpose for pursuing further education, and determine the steps needed to prepare for and apply to graduate or professional school.

There are expenses associated with the graduate/professional school preparation and application process. Carefully review the criteria below in order to determine whether you are eligible to apply to the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund for your graduate/professional school-related expenses.

Johnson Family Opportunity Fund Deadlines (2022-23 Academic Year)
  • October 18, 2022
  • December 14, 2022
  • February 15, 2023
  • April 4, 2023
  • May 15, 2023

Late applications will not be considered. Students should apply for funding before they have incurred the expenses related to their application whenever possible.

Please plan ahead – if you are applying for funding related to graduate/professional school application fees, you are strongly encouraged to request a faculty member to indicate support for your application by completing a Faculty Support Form, which should be requested at least two weeks before the application deadline. Only students who are requesting funding for their application expenses should ask faculty to complete this form (more details below).

Student Eligibility to apply for the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund
  • Financial Need Eligibility – Low-income students meeting specific criteria are eligible to apply. If you do not meet eligibility guidelines, your application will not be considered for funding. Domestic students with an Expected Family Contribution of $10,000 or less and “high need” international students are eligible to apply. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, or believe you may have extenuating circumstances that may affect your eligibility, please reach out to Financial Aid at or visit the Financial Aid office in Tomson 120.
  • Class Year – Students must be a sophomore, junior, or senior during the grant period. Experiences occurring during sophomore year will be considered; experiences occurring after graduation will not be funded.
  • Funding Limit/Maximum – Eligible students may apply for funding for multiple opportunities. Students may receive a maximum of $5,000 in funding (total) during their time at St. Olaf, including both Graduate/Professional School-related funding and funding for Internships & Career-enhancing Experiences.
  • First generation college students are particularly encouraged to apply and will be prioritized when determining funding levels.
Funding Guidelines & Eligible Expenses

Students apply to receive funding to cover expenses (such as application fees, test registration fees, visit expenses, etc.) that exceed support from fee waivers, scholarships, and other support as detailed in the Graduate/Professional School-related Budget Form.

Please note that there is no guarantee of funding to any applicant, and the expenses included below may or may not be funded when included in a Johnson Family Opportunity Fund application.

The following expenses may be included in your request for funding:

  • Test materials and registration fees including the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, and others.
  • Application fees for graduate school (maximum of 8 applications will be considered for funding)
  • *Interview or similar visit expenses – limited funding is available for graduate/professional school visits, primarily when a visit is required for a specific reason such as an interview. Always ask the graduate/professional program whether they will provide support for your visit or whether housing, food or other accommodations can be arranged or covered by the program.
  • Not eligible for funding:
    • Fees associated with Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students are not eligible for funding through the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund.
  • Students seeking support for licensure or other unique requests should contact Marietta Ruppe ( and Nate Jacobi ( before applying in order to determine the eligibility of your opportunity to determine eligibility.
  • See here for information about funding for internship, research or other career-enhancing experiences.
  • Explore alternate sources for Funding at St. Olaf  
Requesting Fee Waivers or Reduced Fees

Some graduate/professional schools and testing companies will offer fee waivers or reduced fees to students with a high level of financial need. To determine whether a fee waiver is available, start by reviewing the program website. If nothing is listed there, call the graduate/professional program or department office to inquire about the availability of a fee waiver. Before applying for Johnson Family Opportunity Funding, check with your school or testing company about the availability of a fee waiver.

The Graduate/Professional School-related Expenses Budget Form (below) requires you to indicate whether or not will receive a fee waiver for each application or test registration expense. Preference will be given to applicants who have asked potential graduate programs and testing companies about the availability of fee waivers/support.

Faculty Support Form - for students applying to graduate school

If you are requesting funding related to your graduate/professional school application fees, please discuss your interest with a faculty member, and ask them if they would complete the Faculty Support Form:

Have a conversation with your faculty member about your interest in graduate/professional school. Discuss:

  • Your interests and goals as they relate to graduate/professional school
  • Appropriate programs to apply to, based on your academic performance, experience and interests.
  • Ask for insight and feedback from your faculty member about your plans.
  • Ask if the faculty member would be willing to indicate their support for your plans by completing a brief form related to Johnson Family Opportunity Funding, as well as writing letters of recommendation related to your applications for graduate/professional school. Please do not submit a letter from a faculty member with your Johnson Family Opportunity Fund application – ask for the faculty member to complete the form provided.

It is important that you discuss your interest in graduate/professional school with your faculty member before asking them to complete this form, because they will be asked to confirm whether they support your plans to pursue graduate/professional school. Your faculty member will also be asked about your level of preparation, and whether you are applying to schools that are appropriate based on your academic preparation, interests and goals. The form should no more than 5-10 minutes for your faculty member to complete. You should send this request to your faculty member as early as possible, but no less than 2 weeks prior to the deadline.

After you’ve met to discuss your interests and asked the faculty member to complete a Faculty Support Form, here’s a sample email that you could send a faculty member to request that they complete the form:

Dear (faculty member),

As I mentioned when we met, I am applying for funding through the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund to cover some of the expense of applying to graduate/professional [choose whichever one applies to you] school.

Could you please assist me in my application for funding by completing this Faculty Support Form? It should take about 5-10 minutes to complete, and the application deadline is (JFOF APPLICATION DEADLINE HERE). Here is a link to the form:

Thank you very much.


(Your Name)

Selection Process

The Johnson Family Opportunity Fund is competitively awarded to students who meet all eligibility guidelines. The Selection Committee awards funding based on the strength of the application and the value and relevance of the expense. All applications are reviewed based on the selection criteria included in the Graduate & Professional School-related Expenses Rubric. Submitting an application does not guarantee funding, and partial funding is common for students who are awarded funding.

Applicants must review all of the information provided below in detail and must follow all steps in the application process in order to submit a strong application for funding.

Application Process and Required Documents

When you apply for funding, you will be asked electronically to upload files that are required for your application, including documentation of your opportunity, documentation related to expenses (receipts), your resume, and the Graduate/Professional School-related Expenses Budget Form. Each of these documents must be saved electronically in PDF format, and each document must be uploaded directly when you submit your application for funding.


STEP 1 – Identify an eligible expense related to your graduate/professional school preparation or application process  – Review the eligible expenses for Johnson Family Opportunity Funding, and work with Marietta Ruppe (, Nate Jacobi (, or another coach in the Piper Center if you need additional assistance.

For students requesting support for graduate/professional school applications – Request that a faculty member complete the Faculty Support Form (see above for details). This request should be made at least two weeks prior to the Application Deadline. See above for more details.

STEP 2 – Document your expenses. Save all documents electronically by scanning or by saving as a PDF.

For students seeking funding for graduate/professional school visits for interviews or for other reasons:

  • Submit documentation of all travel expenses – include receipts for all previously purchased tickets, travel expenses, etc, or estimates for the expenses you anticipate with your planned visit. This documentation could include a screenshot for a current plane ticket or hotel rate, etc.

For students seeking funding for test fees or other graduate/professional school-related expenses:

  • If possible, secure and print your registration information/receipt or provide other documentation to confirm your expense (past or anticipated expense) or opportunity.
  • If you are applying to graduate/professional schools, there is no need to send documentation for each school application fee. List the relevant information as prompted on the budget form.

STEP 3 – Complete the Graduate/Professional School-related Expenses Budget Form. Students must complete the Budget Worksheet before completing the Online Application and save it electronically by scanning it or saving as a PDF.

STEP 4 – Prepare your Resume or CV and save it electronically as a PDF.
If you need assistance starting or updating a resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV), please stop by the Piper Center to meet with a Peer Advisor and use the Piper Center Resume Resources.

OPTIONAL – Prepare to complete the online application form by reviewing the Graduate/Professional School-related Application Worksheet. Please note, this is only a “worksheet”, meant to be used to prepare your essay responses and provide you with an understanding of the questions that will be asked in the online application (see below). This worksheet will not be submitted with the online application. All applicants must apply via the online application in order to be considered for funding.


Complete the Online Application by 11:59 pm on the application deadline. 

As part of the online application, you will submit the following documents electronically in PDF format (see details above):

After You Apply

Await Notification from the Piper Center
Within two weeks of the application deadline, all applicants will be notified via email about whether they have been awarded funding.

For Award Recipients – Final Steps

Submit Payment Documents (only those that are selected for an award)
Students who are awarded funding will receive several documents that need to be signed and returned to the Piper Center in order to receive payment.

Application Assistance

Students are encouraged to reach out to Marietta Ruppe ( and Nate Jacobi ( with questions they have about the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund including Budget Reviews.

JFOF Drop-in Hours in the Piper Center

Thursdays from 3-5 pm – Nate’s drop-in hours in the Piper Center

How can I schedule an in-person or virtual meeting to discuss the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund?

    1. Log onto Handshake with your St. Olaf credentials.
    2. Click on “Career Center” on the top right side of the screen.
    3. Click on “Appointments”.
    4. Click on the blue button that reads “Schedule a New Appointment”.
    5. Under “Choose a Category”, select “Johnson Family Opportunity Fund Questions (15 minutes)”.
    6. Choose “Johnson Family Opportunity Fund” as the appointment type.
    7. Find an available appointment time that will be convenient for you. Click on that appointment time and follow the prompts to “Request” the appointment.
    8. A coach will follow up with you with additional information about meeting via video or phone.
Additional Graduate School Resources
  • Overview of the Graduate School Application Process
  • Review the St. Olaf English Department’s How-to Guide on Requesting Letters of Recommendation
  • Meet regularly with a faculty member and/or staff who support your plans. Ask a trusted mentor or a Piper Center coach to review your application/s and personal statement before you submit
  • Utilize the Piper Center website, including the How-to Guides for information about creating a resume or cover letter, and for information about networking and other skills
  • Visit the Piper Center to discuss your interests with a Peer Advisor, and work with a Peer Advisor and/or coach to create and refine your resume/CV, personal statement and other application materials.