Fellowships provide money for living expenses ($15-30K per year in 2006) along with a tuition waiver. In budgeting the overall cost of a program, a fellowship can make a big difference, especially if the school is located in an expensive area.
Many universities offer one- to several-year fellowships to entering, top-ranked graduate students as an enticement to attend. If one of these applicants goes somewhere else, the fellowship is offered to the next-ranked student on the list. Usually the fellowship “ranking” is based on the graduate application.
A number of competitive fellowships are also available, usually with application deadlines in mid- to late fall. We recommend searching the web to find a good fit. Also note the following fellowships in biology: