Although most patients with schizophrenia rely on public financial support, little is known about how soon after the onset of illness such dependence occurs. Forty-eight patients with schizophrenia were followed for a mean of five years after their first hospitalization to examine their reliance on public support. At one year after their first hospitalization, 27 subjects (56 percent) were primarily supported by social service agencies. Once such support was initiated, it was maintained throughout the entire follow-up period for all patients except two. The findings indicate that dependence on public financial assistance begins very early in the course of illness for most hospitalized patients with schizophrenia.