In America around 40 percent of all loan debt of students is loans taken out for professional and graduate degrees, despite the graduate students being outnumbered by undergrads by around 5 to 1. Loans are not the only way to finance an education.
The major question is how to get money to finance your graduate school education. Read further to get to know about all the options that you have besides loans.
When trying to evaluate your sources of finance for graduate school there is an order of priority. List them accordingly from least to most expensive so you can customize your attempts at a cheap source of finance before trying other things.
If you want to work in a particular field fellowships are very good ways to obtain free money for an education. Fellowships have merit based requirements and they can pay almost every expense for your educations including tuition like living expenses, food etc.
Fellowships can be obtained from a lot of places such as from exterior organizations, you can also apply for them through your own school for what are called institutional fellowships, and even by federal funding.
Fellowships not only help to keep costs of education low but also assist you in obtaining skills important for your field and also add things to your resume. Fellowships may make you do research or teaching that is similar to work you may want to do for a living one day. Fellowships are both financial and and educational so always research the fellowships you can apply for.
This can be done by signing up for websites such as ProFellow, which provide tips for applications and also allow you to browse a database of fellowships, or you could use the fellowships database maintained by Cornell University.
Another way to obtain finance for your graduate education is by obtaining a scholarship. This is a very good option since the money does not have to be returned and there are many ways to obtain scholarships.
Scholarships can be found with a number of eligibility criteria like merit, by field, location and sometimes even by heritage. Be thorough in your search for a scholarship.
Online portals like Fast Web, Scholarships.com etc. will help you in obtaining scholarships specifically as a graduate student.
After evaluating your options for assistantship, fellowship etc. the next thing is searching for free aid and a good way to get free aid is aid from your state.
Research whether your state provides financial aid for graduate students by asking a state grant agency or using the map created by the Department of Education.
If your educational institution is in another state then research that state which sometimes hold grants for students who study and then work for their state.
Apart from state sponsored financial aid schools offer financial assistance as well which is not very uncommon.
Stats show that school provide financial assistance which is nearly as much as what the government provides. To find out whether your school provides financial aid contact the financial aid office of your institution.
Also upon finding financial aid you could apply for fill in and submit your application as soon as possible to make sure you do not lose this opportunity for free schooling.
Students often express surprise upon learning that non-profit organizations actually provide financial assistance. Students must search for a non-profit that provides assistance specifically for students like them relating to a number of factors such as income, heritage etc.
While this takes a bit more research online websites such as Questbridge can help, specifically helping students with low income obtain education.
Finding work is another way to finance your studies this can be done through federal programs which provide jobs to students. These programs are highly competitive and work on a first come first served basis and quickly fill out an application for your federal student aid which can be done very early , in fact in the fall of the previous year.
The Office of Federal Student Aid states that the amount you get depends on need, the funds the school has etc. Students can be paid their total money immediately or also make it so that the money immediately goes to paying the tuition and other costs.
The work you can do depends on the program you are studying in and in some cases you may even work for companies that have an agreement with the university you are in and it works in an industry that your degree is related to.
Graduate students sometimes even seek out assistantships for financing their education; however these positions include teacher or research assistants and can be a lot of work.
Assistantships on average require around 20 hours of work on average and include work like teaching students, preparing labs etc. This work can also stack up a lot when you have a lot of school work as well.
The assistantship programs are common but highly competitive so apply for one as soon as possible in order to make sure you get the position.
Andrea Imafidon who is now a blogger and entrepreneur was a graduate assistant and used that position to finance her degree without getting too much debt.
Her school financial aid office helped her to get a graduate assistant position working 20 hours a week which helped her to avoid debt and earn money as a student.
Andrea said the position got her enough money for travelling, living and saving. She states it was one of the highest paying positions in her school. It also covered her tuition and housing among other expenses.
When all other options are not viable federal loans are also a method of financing your education. Just remember to fill your application and submit it early.
The application can also allow to access to things like work opportunities etc. but the financial aid application is the only way to get federal aid student loans. This is important because these loans have repayment flexibility which can allow you to get an income driven payment plan which makes it easier to repay the loans.
The Federal Student Aid also provides you with a list of options for graduate students which will be given to you when the application is submitted by you. There are a number of options available like the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Pell Grant among others.
Always know your options since it is always very helpful for you and submitting just one financial aid application can help you to view all the grants and loans that you would be eligible for.
However, when offered multiple sources of finance get any grants first before loans since grants do not need to be return. This can help reduce the amount of debt you amass.
If the amount you received was not enough for you an appeal can be made to be more funds.
If no other options are available to you then private student loans can be taken out to pay for your graduate school.
Deborah Sweeney the CEO of MyCoporation stated that during her education she was not afraid of taking loans for legitimate reasons like education, business investments or home purchase. In exchange she worked hard to make sure she paid them off.
Maintaining this balance is what helped Sweeney stay above her debt and work on other objectives.
She said that you should invest in yourself when it is required and then work hard to make sure that you can pay it off without consequences and this has worked well for her.
When you cannot get funding for a small cost which is not being covered by another method private student loans are a great tool. However, they could be difficult to repay because unlike federal loans they do not provide the facility of forgiveness or income driven payment plans.
Their interest rates can also be higher and this can cost more money overall and this can lead to amassing a lot of debt. FinAid listed private loan lenders and according to that list interest rates start from 2% till 12%.
Firstly evaluate how viable it is to use private student loans , weight the pros and cons then make a decision.
Graduate school is the dream of several people and a lot of them want to advance their career or even through a love for learning. However, in some cases the dream is not free even when you are financed by grants etc.
Unless you attend school part time then the time in school could be time that you cannot work and thus you could lose out on salary.
However, depending on the qualification you gain and it could open up other opportunities for your career. Thus always evaluate the pros and cons of any decision you make.