Now that you have started researching graduate programs, you might be checking out the cost per credit hour and wondering how in the world you’re going to afford it. You may no longer be eligible for many of the student loans and scholarships that were available to you as an undergraduate student, but that doesn’t mean that you will have to pay for everything out of pocket. In fact, if you know where to look, you may find that financing your graduate pathway is less of a burden than your undergraduate degree!
Tuition Reimbursement & Waivers
If you’re planning to take a gap year between your undergraduate and graduate years, look for a job that places a value on your higher education. Many companies, organizations, government institutions, and colleges and universities offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package. And a lot of people take advantage of it! 22% of all graduate students receive some type of tuition reimbursement.
You can also look for tuition waivers. These are offered by the college or university at which you are pursuing your graduate degree. Most programs have a limited supply of tuition waivers and have strict criteria for eligibility. You may not be able to apply for a waiver for your program; many times the request must come from a faculty member of program administrator on your behalf. If you’re considering requesting a tuition waiver, be familiar with the eligibility requirements and application process so that you can make your case for a waiver request early.
Grants, Fellowships, & Scholarships
Grants, fellowships, and scholarships are funding options from the federal government that you don’t have to pay back. Some of these are awarded on merit or are related to specific programs or research areas, and some are awarded based on your personal demographics. As with most financial aid, you’ll want to research these options and apply early because they are typically awarded on a first come, first served basis.
Many programs offer assistantship opportunities to their students. These are hourly positions with job titles like Graduate Assistant, Research Assistant, and Teaching Assistant. You normally have to apply for these positions and, if selected, you will receive a stipend for the work you perform. These positions are typically related to the field of study that your program is preparing you for so the experiences you have during an assistantship can help you understand what you will be doing after you graduate.
Different programs offer different kinds of opportunities, and they each have different application processes. Many programs hire assistants well in advance of the start of the semester. If you are interested in pursuing an assistantship, talk to your program administrator as soon as possible about the availability of assistantships within your program so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity!
Federal Student Loans
If you do your research early and pursue the opportunities above, you may not have to worry about taking out loans. But, if you don’t have funding options available to you through your program, you can apply for loans from the federal government to help pay for your studies. Loans do have to be paid back over time, and they accrue interest, sometimes even while you’re in school. If you do have to take out one or more loans to finance your graduate program, make sure you thoroughly read and understand the loan agreement so that you can estimate how quickly you can pay them off.
For more financial tips and information make sure to stop by our next Graduate Pathways workshop tomorrow!
Tuesday, October 17 / 1p.m. – 2p.m. / MSC 4200
Tuesday, October 24 / 6:00p.m.- 7:30p.m. / MSC 2709
Thursday, October 26 / 11a.m. – 2p.m. / MSC Ballroom
The next workshop is tomorrow! If you know that you can’t attend, visit our website to find out how you can still get your attendance counted by viewing our workshops online.