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Search for Grad School Money Is Half the Battle, Experts Say

Identifying sources of funding for grad school and staying organized are key, some contend.

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"If you were a finalist, it's often worthwhile to contact the National Science Foundation and ask for a copy of the review comments on your application," Kantrowitz says.

"The contents are very specific as to why you weren't selected as a winner. So you ask for the comments from your application as a college senior, and then, as a first-year graduate student, address those comments or issues raised," Kantrowitz explains. "Show in your personal statement that you have the experience that before they said you were lacking. Fix problems."

Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for Graduate School center.