Although the decision to go back to school is exciting, many prospective graduate students spend a lot of time worrying about how to handle the expenses. As this article will explain, however, a graduate degree doesn’t have to come with a mountain of debt.
There are many options for paying for graduate school, and not at all of them include taking out more loans than you can handle.
The following tips offer some valuable advice regarding financial aid for graduate students.
1. Research scholarships and grants.
When researching scholarships and grants, specificity is key. Sites such as scholarships.com allow you to search for scholarships by choosing criteria that include state of residence, academic major, ethnicity, and GPA. These specifications enable you to find lesser well-known scholarships that you might not normally come across.
An example is the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania, a foundation that provides scholarships to residents of Pennsylvania who are pursuing a degree in nursing and who are planning to work in the state after obtaining their degree. If you fit within the required guidelines, this kind of scholarship can make a huge difference in paying for graduate school.
2. Look into Graduate Assistantships.
Graduate assistantships are on-campus, professional work opportunities for students who are interested in research, teaching, or career services. Job responsibilities vary by program, department, and institution, but most graduate assistants assist faculty members with research and/or teaching.
The real-life, transferable professional experience you will gain while in a graduate assistantship will give you a competitive edge once you enter the workforce.
In addition to gaining invaluable work experience in your discipline of interest, most graduate assistants also receive tuition assistance or a stipend for the work they do. Graduate assistantships are fantastic opportunities for graduate students to offset the cost of graduate school while obtaining sought-after skills related to their field.
3. Fill out the fafsa.
As a graduate student, you can still submit the Free Application Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In fact, if you’re considering financing your degree through a federal loan, you must fill out and submit the FAFSA in order to see your government loan options.
The process for applying for the FAFSA for graduate students is pretty similar to the process for undergraduate students. The most notable difference between the two is that as a graduate student, it will be your finances and taxes being evaluated, not your parents’, since you’re considered an independent.
You’ll need to go to the official FAFSA website, obtain your FSA ID, and follow the application instructions.
4. See if you might qualify for loan forgiveness in the future.
The thought of taking out student loans for graduate school can be anxiety-provoking, as debt seems nothing if not permanent. When deciding whether to take out loans, however, it’s worth considering your future career plans. If you end up working full-time for the government or in the nonprofit sector, you could be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
It’s worth noting that if your desired graduate degree is in nursing or education, there may be additional loan forgiveness programs available for you as well!
5. Ask your current employer to help fund graduate school.
Depending on where you work, you may want to consider asking your employer about tuition reimbursement. In this case, it’s important to choose a master’s program that will provide you with skills to improve your performance at your current job.
Before you initiate a discussion with your manager, be prepared to advocate for yourself by explaining the value you bring to the company, emphasizing your excellent work as an employee, and detailing how obtaining a graduate degree will benefit the whole organization.
6. Cash in on your talents and skills.
Writing freelance articles in your field of expertise, tutoring undergraduate students in subjects you did well in, or assisting a professor with research are several potential ways to boost your income without requiring too much of a time commitment. These kinds of side gigs are easy to find and can work flexibly with your schedule.
With a bit of creativity, you might find that you can use your various unique skills to help cover the expenses of graduate school, rather than taking out additional loans to make ends meet.
At Neumann, we will help you finance graduate school.
At Neumann University, we’re dedicated to making the graduate school decision process as simple as possible, and we know that part of that includes helping you to figure out how to finance your degree. Neumann University also boasts a competitive tuition price, with an average student’s tuition bill at around $14,690. Other schools in the area have tuition averages of around $15,202.
Are you ready to transform your career with a graduate degree? We encourage you to request more information or take a look at Neumann’s financial aid options!