Here is an interesting statistic. Although undergraduates are multiple times as many as graduate students, about 40 percent of the grand total of student loan debt was used to fund graduate and professional degrees. What this means for you in short is that not only you can receive financial aid for graduate school, but you will also hardly be the first person to do so. In this article, we will explore the major options you have at your disposal. We will define the different types of financial aid you can receive, and give each a short overview.
Types of Financial Aid
Thankfully, nowadays there is a lot of opportunity for you to fund your graduate school education and training. Some opportunities are more obvious than others – you are likely aware of the FAFSA application – while others, such as seeking for merit-based or need-based scholarships will require a bit more looking around. The most important thing for you to understand is that even if one of your options turns out to be a deadend, your application rejected, it is not the end of the world. You could literally spend months until you exhaust all your options. In other words, if you are willing to go to graduate school, you can. It is just a matter of time.
State Financial Aid
The Federal State is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation – providing more than $120 billion per year to millions of students for higher education. To apply for financial aid, you need to submit a free application (FAFSA). In nearly all cases, graduate students are not required to provide parent information as they are considered to be independent for the purposes of FAFSA. There are a number of Federal Student Aid programs including:
To qualify for federal student aid, you are required to meet a number of eligibility requirements. These may differ per different program, but in most cases following general requirements apply:
Other than the Federal State, another great option for you to receive financial aid is to look up for scholarships. Using the following search engine of careeronestop, you can look up more than 7.500 scholarships, fellowships, grants and other financial aid opportunities. What is great about this is that you can sort the search engines list by deadline, by their award amount or any relevant keyword you wish to use.
Scholarships are strictly better than loans as they do not require you to pay back the funds. There are many types of scholarships: Some are based on merit, others on field of study or location – some are even based on your heritage. When looking to fund your studies, you should not leave this opportunity go to waste. Here are two more resources for you to find scholarships: Peterson's, and Scholarship's.
Our personal preferred way of receiving financial aid – other than qualifying for a scholarship, of course – is through a work-study opportunity. These are awarded based on need – and are applicable to both graduate and undergraduate programs, as well as available for both full-time and part-time students. These type of jobs usually involve civic education and are related to your course of study whenever possible. The obvious upside is that you get substantial first-hand experience that you would had missed had you opted for a loan.
For graduates, payment works either on an hourly basis or by a fixed salary – you receive payment at least once per month. You get paid directly, unless you request you get paid otherwise, like in your bank account. Now, your natural question is probably going to be: "How much?" Unfortunately, the number is not fixed – although you get at the very least the current federal minimum wage. You may end more depending on the type of work you do and the specialised skills your position requires, as well as the level of your financial need.
Honestly, private loans should be your last option as they generally compare unfavorable to your other options. That being said, barring any other option, a private loan can still go a long way in enabling you to invest in your education. You should be extra careful because private loaning does not include the important benefits governement loads do, such as loan forgiveness or the various repayment plans. Moreover, their interest rates can be quite unforgiving. When looking to get a private loan, a good rule of thumb is the following.
Will the extra training I will receive through the private loan pay it back before interest rates get out of hand? Is this training vital to my professional success and career progress – i.d could I do without it? Have I exhausted all my other options? Giving honest answers to these simple questions can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
We have established that you can receive financial aid as a graduate student. In fact, we have established you have multiple ways of going about it. The current article is certainly not exhaustive. If you keep your eyes open, you will of course find many other opportunities. Networking comes to mind – an employer who truly believes in you could be persuaded to fund part of your studies, for example, so long as he is guaranteed he gets a substantial return of investment. One thing is certain: Before you commit to anything and make the leap, you would do well to consider all your options. There are thousands of scholarships active, and many generous Federal opportunities for you to look at before you to resort to a private loan.