Top 5 Smart Tips to Make Grad School Affordable
As a college student, one of your biggest worries, if not the biggest worry, is funding your education. Figuring out the technicalities of funding your college years is a hassle to begin with, but after you receive your bachelor’s degree, you may find it challenging and stressful figuring out how to afford grad school.
Fortunately, as a grad student, there are a few more options to provide you with sufficient funds to support furthering your education. Choices are not nearly as limited when it comes to grad school, which can encourage you to strive further in the world of education! Are you a recent graduate considering graduate school but do not have a clue how to afford it?
Worry not! Here are five simple ways to afford grad school.
Many are used to the process of filling out the FAFSA during your undergrad years, and the process of applying as a potential grad student is no different. Federal student aid is one of the most common ways to get financial aid as both an undergrad and grad student. Based on financial information from either yourself or your parents/guardians, the FAFSA determines exactly how much financial aid you are eligible to receive from the federal government through either loans or grants.
Loans taken out from the government are either subsidized or unsubsidized and have to be paid back, while grants are financial rewards that do not have to be paid back. Types of loans that you can take out include the Direct PLUS Loan as well as the Perkins Loan. Taking out loans is an efficient way to pay for your grad school education; plus there are numerous options available when it comes time to pay them back, such as deferment of payments and loan forgiveness.
While federal student aid like loans and grants is based on financial need, scholarships, in contrast, are merit based. Scholarships, like grants, are financial awards that do not have to be paid back. To look for scholarships, check out online databases which can offer a plethora of scholarships based on a variety of conditions, including gender, ethnicity, religion, military status, sexuality, etc.
Perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind when applying for scholarships is deadlines. My suggestion for keeping track of scholarship deadlines is to get a calendar or planner and mark the days when each application is due. This will help you be on top of important dates and also leverage your organizational skills! Some useful college scholarship databases/engines are CollegeBoard, CollegeNet, and Scholarships.com.
Depending on your field of study, you may be eligible to participate in a fellowship while obtaining your graduate degree. Fellowships allow potential students to engage in learning and career opportunities while getting money to support their educational advances.
According to gograd.org, fellowships can be “participating in research, entering a training program related to your field, or doing work in your community” all while giving students the opportunity to help pay tuition, living expenses, housing, etc. Depending on your field and respective fellowship, you may also be eligible to receive health benefits and increased student loan assistance.
Similar to fellowships, workplace reimbursement programs can help fund your grad school education. According to gograd.org, “many companies offer tuition assistance programs to employees who enroll in degree programs that are relevant to their industry.”
Programs like these are great for grad students because they help students to not only make money and have great job opportunities but also to pay tuition!
In conjunction with fellowships, assistantships work in a similar fashion. Though a majority of assistantships are in the field of science, they are still excellent ways to help fund higher education.
According to credible.com, assistantships are programs that “provide some or all of the funding needed for school while the student is working for the university in some capacity.” This opportunity gives students tuition assistance and helps the university save money and gain researchers.
Though this fact seems discouraging, funding graduate school is indeed possible if you work diligently and utilize the best of your skills. There are plentiful resources out there that can lead you through your grad school years and not leave you with the feeling that you’re drowning in debt once you’re done.
If you plan wisely and ahead of time, there is nothing that can stop you from accomplishing your dreams and goals! As always, good luck!