Graduate School Financial Aid
Looking for financial aid to go to graduate school? Join the club. There are lots of people that need financial aid in order to take on the expense of going to graduate school. But take heart, there are lots of ways that you can find financial assistance. This brief article will discuss some of them, and point you at other resources that can help you explore your options further.
The first step is to determine what the schools you are interested in attending charge for tuition, and what financial aid options they offer. You should do this as part of the initial application process. Getting accepted to a graduate school that you can't afford to go to is not very helpful. Make sure that you calculate your return on investment (you can use our ROI calculator) to see when you can expect to have recouped your investment in graduate school, and begin to see a return.
So find our about all their internal options even before you look at outside options. Make sure you get all the required applications in on time. Some schools are able to offer forms of gift aid (also known as institutional aid). This is the most sought after form of aid, as it does not need to be repaid. However, it usually has additional stipulations related to scholarship merit, need, or other very specific criteria.
Graduate schools may offer employment opportunities as a form of financial aid as well. This can include working as a teaching assistant or other forms of on-campus employment. For example, internships that provide degree related experience are an interesting form of aid. All of these opportunities can be explored through the financial aid office of each school that you are considering.
There are many forms of federal financial aid programs as well. You can request a Free Application for Federal Student Aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can also get FAFSA forms from your graduate school. This will help you get access to many federal programs, including Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Pell Grants, and Federal Work-Study Programs.
If you submit your FAFSA application to a school, it usually needs to be received by the school after January 1 and before March 1 for applications for the following school year beginning in the Fall. However, FAFSA applications can still be submitted on the web until June 30. FAFSA processes your application and determines your financial need level and sends the graduate school a financial aid report.
It is up to the school to determine what they consider your financial need to be, and how much you will be granted. You will need to cover the remaining amounts by other means, most likely by private loans. This can include money from individuals, corporations, or foundations. The terms under which money can be received vary greatly and will require some research. It may require some research on your part to determine which private financial source is best for you.
Some of these private sources include Sallie Mae, CitiAssist, and Access Group. These companies offer varying terms based on the available information on the student's credit history. Contact each of these groups to find out what the best terms you can get to cover your remaining expenses.
If you are part of a minority group, or a veteran, there may be other types of financial aid options available to you as well. Veterans Educational Benefits is a program for veterans who have had at least one year of active service and you can find out more about this program from the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington D.C. If you are part of a minority, and don't know where to go, ask your candidate college's financial aid officer bout options for minority based benefits.
As you can see, there are a lot of different options for paying your graduate school expenses. However, with diligent effort to explore these options you can find the best path for you.