By Laura Morrison, January 2014
Not everybody goes to graduate school after earning a bachelor's degree. However, those who do are probably eager to lower the costs associated with continuing their education at the master's level - especially after paying for four years of college.
Fortunately, there are always ways to make enrolling in graduate programs more affordable. For students, following the cost-reducing tips listed below could mean the difference between putting off academic goals and actually earning the advanced degree they seek.
Change the format
Every graduate program is different. While students should never sacrifice the quality of their studies to save money, they may be able to find tracks that meet their academic and financial needs. Forbes, for instance, recommended students select a one-year program, which will immediately lower their graduate school costs.
Alternatively, students should consider pursuing online graduate degrees instead of on-campus options. When courses are primarily taken online, degree seekers don't have to worry about purchasing materials that are available over the Web or the costs associated with getting to physical classrooms, such as the high price of gas.
Make time for work
In addition to considering online or short-term graduate programs, students may want to think about pursuing a master's degree on a part-time basis. Choosing such a format allows them to hold a job when they're not studying. Even if students enroll in a full-time program, Forbes suggests they consider contract work that would bring in more income than low-paying internships.
Receive federal aid
Undergraduates aren't the only students who can apply for financial assistance from the government. According to the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website, Graduate PLUS Loans may be available to qualified degree seekers.
To be eligible for one of these loans, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The exact amount of aid students receive will vary, but the maximum amount they can borrow is the cost of attending graduate school minus whatever other financial assistance they receive, according to the website.
Get help from an employer
What organization wouldn't want a more educated staff? Many companies are willing to help their employees cover their higher education costs. It never hurts for workers to request a meeting with their boss to see if tuition reimbursement is an option.
According to Forbes, it may even be possible for workers to negotiate some type of tuition reimbursement plan. However, they should be prepared to make some commitments to their employer, such as agreeing to a longer tenure that allows them to put all that education to good use.
Wait for the right time
Sometimes, one of the best approaches to covering the costs of additional education is for individuals to wait until they've saved up enough money. It's not uncommon for students to spend several years away from academia in between earning a bachelor's degree and enrolling in graduate school. During this time, students can work full time and put some money aside for graduate school.
With this approach, not only will students be ready to cover some of the expenses they'll encounter, but possibly return to school with more confidence and professional experience than they had the last time they set foot in a classroom.
Ultimately, how graduate students choose to pay for their graduate programs is up to them. What's important is that they realize there are always ways to cover these costs and take their education to the next level.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is a the content manager for GradSchools.com, she has an MBA from Rutgers University.
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