Funding for Graduate School
These days, the most rewarding job opportunities are available to those who have completed some studies at a graduate level. However, graduate school is much more expensive than undergraduate school and many students may not be able to pursue a graduate program because of the high cost. What most students do not know is how to fund graduate school. There is a variety of loans, grants and scholarships that can provide you with funding for graduate school.
- Assistantships, Grants, and Scholarships
- Federal Student Loans
- Private Student Loans
There are various assistantships, grants, and scholarships that are available for students who want to enroll in a graduate program. These funds may provide students with money for tuition and some may even cover related expenses like study materials and accommodations. The best thing about these funds is that you do not have to pay back the award money, which is why students are encouraged to pursue before trying to obtain other graduate school funding options.
Federal student loans make another great financing option for graduate school. Students may benefit from a variety of loan programs such as the Perkins loan, which are granted on the basis of need, and Stafford loans, which do not require need. In addition, students can take advantage of GradPLUS loans, which are not need-based.
Students may also use private student loans, which make an excellent source of funding for graduate school and are particularly helpful in bridging the gap between the actual financial needs of students and the awards that they may have obtained in other forms. However, compared to federal student loans, private loans usually have higher rates of interests and other terms and conditions may vary from lender to lender.
If you are employed, you can ask your place of work to help financially support your graduate school application. A 2013 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 59 percent of the 550 employers they surveyed “offered graduate educational assistance” to employees who intended on pursuing a course of study.
Be aware that this isn’t a carte blanche offer; your chosen discipline needs to be connected to the overall industry of your job (a law school application while working as a paralegal bodes well for your request being approved; an acting school application does not). Also, you will probably need to have held your job for a long enough period of time that your place of employment feels comfortable sponsoring you for the degree. Asking for financial assistance only a few months after coming on board would not endear you to your employer, who has had barely any time to get to know you before you’re already asking for thousands of dollars to pursue a venture that might distract you from your professional responsibilities.
Certain companies might require you to pay back a portion of the amount upon completion of the graduate program. Graduate school is not cheap, and if your place of work sticks its neck out for you, they can reasonably expect you to return the favor when you have your degree under your belt.
How to Find the Best Funding Option
To find the best funding option for graduate school, you should explore all of your choices including scholarships, grants, loans and even your personal assets and savings. When considering a loan, choose one that is most convenient for you to pay back and one that has a low rate of interest.
What are the different types of student loans for graduate or professional program students?
There are two main types of student loans for graduate students – federal loans and private loans. Federal loans are federally-funded student loans.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- You must be enrolled at least half-time.
- Maximum award of $20,500 per graduate year that cannot exceed $138,500 when combined with undergraduate Stafford borrowing. (Higher limits are available for certain medical programs – ask your financial aid office for details).
- The interest rate is fixed at 5.31% for the 2016-17 academic year.
- Repayment normally starts six months after leaving school (or attending less than half-time).
Federal GradPLUS Loans
- A light credit check is required.
- You do not have to show financial need to qualify.
- You may borrow up to your total cost of attendance, minus any other aid you receive.
- The interest rate is fixed at 6.31% for the 2016-17 academic year.
- The loan is not subsidized (the government pays no interest).
- Repayment is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time.
- Are borrowed through private entities, banks, credit unions or lending companies.
- Interest rates can vary.
- Can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, less other financial aid.
- Interest can be capitalized (added to the loan principal) more often, increasing the amount of money you ultimately are charged for borrowing.
- Approval and terms for private loans are based on credit history. If your rating is bad or non-existent, you might need a cosigner to qualify. Poor or minimal credit may also result in a higher interest rate on your loan.
Are there any special loans for my graduate program?
Many lenders have loans for specific programs of study, such as MBA programs, Medical School, Dental School, Law School, and more. You can compare options for financing your preparation for the bar examination and for your medical residency expenses. Begin your search. Speak to the financial aid administrator at your school for more details.
Types of Student Loans
- Student Loans Home
- 911 GI Bill
- Alternative Schools
- Flight School
- For Bad Credit
- For Community College
- For Single Mothers
- GI Bill
- Interest Free
- Low Interest
- Medical School
- No Co-signer
- No Credit Check
- Parent PLUS
- Part-Time Students
- Post 911 GI Bill
- Private Loans with No Co-signer
- Private School
- Subsidized Loans