I am well--and somewhat painfully--aware that this question may be a stupid or obvious one; I've never felt that the cloak of internet anonymity covers me any more fully than a damn hospital gown. Furthermore, this may be a frequently asked question (though I did go back a little bit. I sure wish we had a Memories section, or tags at the very least!), in which case I apologize in advance for provoking groans and swift page-scrolls.
Having issued my disclaimer, I hope I've still got a few people reading. The subject of my question is funding for PhD programs. Does it exist?! I have been told by several people--none of whom got PhDs in literature, I might add--that some schools offer assistantships and the like, and that such funding often covers full tuition, living expenses, and sometimes more! However, I can't really find corroboration of such assertions on university websites (I may just not know where to look / Google's soft spots). Moreover, a full ride (plus!) to graduate school seems too good to be true. . .
If funding does exist, is it only at very select schools and only for very few students?
I am thinking of applying to some big-name universities--the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley, as well as some state schools and smaller-name institutions. I am obviously willing (and eager!) to work in relevant areas while earning my PhD; I've already been a teaching assistant and loved it. I am applying with only an undergraduate degree; I would prefer not to go the MA route unless I absolutely have to.
I would greatly appreciate any information, links, personal experiences, anything! I am trying to wrap my head around what I am getting myself into; I know that I want this, but I need to know what it is going to cost me.
Thanks so much!