I am wondering....if you already have a fellowship for 4-year study of Phd from an outside source (less say about annual $45,000), does it help you in the admission process? Do you have a much better chance of getting in? Any ideas?
Thanks for your input....
This took a long time for you to get an answer, but anyway: it depends on what the fellowship implies and where you've applied. If the fellowship has no strings attached then it may give some schools the opportunity to take you off their stipend list, and may improve your chances of admission a little. The very best schools could care less about having to pay $20,000/year less in stipends as they only care about their brand. However if the fellowship has strings attached (say school X provides the fellowship but you need to go back there for at least 5 years after you get the PhD), it may not matter to the admitting school, or it may give you a _worse_ chance of getting in.
What the best schools strive for with PhD programs is to get graduates who'll go on and get hired by good schools, so that they can say their placement is good and that they're producing good researchers. If you've already got a job from a 3rd/4th tier university, then that may be good for you, but Yale or Stanford won't be able to advertise themselves by saying you went back to Kent State or Northern Iowa (no offense).
(Disclaimer: I'm currently a student in the process of finishing a PhD from a top 20 school, supported by such a 3rd/4th tier university, and I'm going back there despite a likely large paycut)