Strategies to Pay for Graduate School

Regardless matter when a student chooses to enroll in a graduate program—after working for a while or just after completing their bachelor degree—it can be costly.

Returning to school after a few years of employment can be a huge life adjustment, according to Susan M. Brooks, senior associate director of graduate and federal programs for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “So if you can take one stressor out of the equation, i.e., if we can take care of the money for you earlier, then you can focus all that energy on actually being a successful student.”

When considering graduate program funding, experts advise students to start early and consider the following seven factors:

Obtain money for graduate school through your company.
Acquire a scholarship or fellowship.
Seek for tuition-free graduate programs.
Consider doctoral programs.
work for the postgraduate course of study.
Consult the admissions office.
Make wise choices while borrowing money.

Make Your Employer Pay for Graduate School

Employers occasionally provide tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance to employees attending graduate school in order to increase their combined skill set without having to hire new staff. For instance, 92% of American businesses offer some form of educational benefits, according to a 2019 survey report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Experts advise students to contact their employer’s human resources department to find out the exact rules for tuition reimbursement programs, as financing for them may be restricted. Some employers force their graduates to work for them for a predetermined period of time after graduation, failing which they will have to pay back a portion of their tuition.

Obtain a Fellowship or Scholarship

Scholarships and fellowships are often merit-based, non-repayable awards. To be considered, graduate students might need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Experts suggest searching for local scholarships through groups, workplaces, or places of worship in addition to national scholarships, which are listed on websites like Fastweb, Cappex, and Unigo. GoGrad is another website that offers a list of specialized scholarships to graduate students, both current and potential.

Students in graduate programs often have access to school-specific scholarship search platforms. As an illustration, the University of Pittsburgh created PittFund$Me, a single database that houses all of the fellowships and scholarships the school provides.

Students can also consult with a department adviser or the financial aid office of a graduate school for information on research- or degree-specific scholarships.

“Graduate financial aid varies widely across graduate and professional programs and so we encourage students to directly contact the school or program to which they are applying,”

Examine Free Graduate Schools

Consider graduate programs that don’t charge tuition.

For instance, the Pennsylvania-based Curtis Institute of Music offers full-tuition merit scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of their financial situation. The graduate student grant, which is renewed every year of attendance, was estimated by the university to have been valued about $60,300 for the 2022–2023 academic year.

Curtis also offers need-based aid in the form of grants and on-campus jobs to help with living expenses.

In 2018, the New York University Grossman School of Medicine provided a first-of-its-kind full-tuition award to all students. Regardless of merit or need for financial aid, every student receives the award, which has an approximate value of $60,100 for the 2022–2023 academic year. Health insurance is covered, but living expenses and other costs are not.

Examine PhD Programs:

PhD schools occasionally provide tuition-free enrollment, allowing students to finish their studies without incurring any debt.

Experts say that prospective graduate students may decide to pursue a Ph.D. instead of a master’s degree, depending on the field.

Programs for doctorates are typically in great demand. At Duke University in North Carolina, for example, Ph.D. candidates are guaranteed five years of twelve-month finance, which includes a stipend in addition to tuition and fees. In addition, grants and child care subsidies are provided to students to assist with prohibitive medical expenditures. Students also receive fully paid health and dental insurance for a period of six years.

Employment with the Graduate School

Research and teaching assistantships typically pay at least a portion of the cost of tuition and offer a periodic stipend in exchange for research or classroom instruction.

Since particular departments occasionally grant assistantships, Eric Eng, the founder and CEO of AdmissionSight, a college admissions advice company, advises: “You definitely want to network with the professor, develop some rapport, and show your interest in that subject matter.”

Consult the Admissions Office
According to Eng, sending a letter directly to the admissions office stating that “you’re very keen on attending, but you’re unable to afford it” is a strategy that is occasionally ignored but is not guaranteed.

“When they’re trying to attract talent, they don’t want to leave that competition to other schools,” he said. “And if you are a pretty good applicant that they have already admitted but are unable to afford it, they will usually give you some buffer or some leeway.”

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