August 18, 2011
HOW TO: Pay For Grad School
From UHEAA: Today’s blog is by one of our expert higher education outreach officers, Sumiko Martinez, who presents at hundreds of public and private schools throughout Utah each year on college access, financial aid, UtahFutures.org and more. Along with being one of our great presenters, Sumiko also recently graduated from the University of Utah with a Master’s degree in Communication (her BA was in English from Westminster College). Check out Sumiko’s latest article filled with expert, first-hand advice on how to pay for grad school. Enjoy!
There’s a wealth of information available for undergraduate students on how to pay for school; for grad students, this can be a little more tricky. Here’s a quick rundown of some ways graduate students can pay for school:
- Teaching, research, and graduate assistantships: these generally involve helping a professor with classes or research in exchange for a full or partial tuition waiver. There may also be healthcare benefits associated, since it’s essentially a job.
- Fellowships are a lot like scholarships, but they often have a goal in mind of freeing up students’ time to do research and make progress towards a thesis or dissertation. Fellowships also function as a sort of internship and opportunity for developing your professional career. Nearly every university will have a couple of very highly regarded and well-paying fellowships, which means winners get funds and another line on their CV (curriculum vitae is the much more detailed version of a resume accepted in academic circles)
- Departmental scholarships are a good idea because the applicant pool is limited. These might seem like small fish, but they are still worth applying for—free money!
- Research grants from outside foundations can be helpful as well. Depending on the stipulations of the grant, you might not be able to use it for tuition itself, but it could help fund research you couldn’t have undertaken otherwise.
- Employer tuition assistance or reimbursement is a great thing if you can get it. Employers are realizing the value of an educated workforce, and may already offer some kind of benefit to employees or the children of employees.
- Stafford and GradPLUS student loans are available to graduate students as well. Graduate students can borrow up to the cost of attendance each year; however, that is a really good way to get in over your head in a big hurry. Borrow as little as possible. One solid suggestion is to research starting salaries in the field you hope to enter, and then keep your estimated student loan payments below 8% of that monthly income.
If you’re still feeling stumped on where to look first, start with your department. They will know not only which scholarships & fellowships are available, but someone there will usually have the institutional memories of how well students in the same department have done at receiving those awards.
Hopefully by the time you get to grad school you already know this, but if you haven’t filed the FAFSA, do it! Graduate students are considered independent on the FAFSA so you may qualify for more need-based aid.
So there you have it: a few suggestions from one grad school survivor to everyone still in the field. Good luck!Posted by: blee
Posted in Prepare & Pay
Tags: College, departmental scholarships, employer tuition assistance, Fellowships, gradPLUS loans, graduate assistantships, Graduate School, How To Pay For Grad School, Paying For College, paying for grad school, research assistantships, research grants, Stafford Loans, Teaching assistantships, UHEAA, Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority
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