Need Help Finding Financial Aid For Grad School?

Graduate School Financial Aid Resource Center

Figuring out how to pay for your graduate education maybe causing you to lose sleep, but there are many financing options available to graduate students who qualify. You may even be able to get paid to participate in a graduate program through a student loan, fellowship, graduate assistantship, or scholarship program.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Graduate Financial Aid, and find out how to get access to the financial aid you need, and learn more about the process of repaying or consolidating loans upon completion of your graduate degree.

Paying for Graduate School

You’ve made the decision to pursue a graduate degree, you’ve applied and been accepted, now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to pay for grad school. Start out by looking for money you won’t have to pay back. Many schools offer graduate assistantship, scholarship, and fellowship programs with different ways to apply. Check the websites or contact the school directly to find out more about what options may be available.

Grad School Financing Starts with the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is typically the first step in applying for financial aid for grad school. This application from the U.S. Department of Education may determine if you are eligible for any federal programs to help fund your degree program. These programs include grants and loans from the federal government. Filling out the FAFSA form clearly and accurately may increase your chances of approval for federal grants and scholarships. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. Use the tips in these articles to help you seek federal aid for graduate level schooling.

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After looking at your federal aid options, it’s usually time to apply for some scholarships. Scholarships may be offered by organizations that are interested in your field. They may  often be merit based, which means you may need a high GPA to get one. Scholarships are sometimes offered through employers, particularly for grad school. Finding scholarships may be tricky, and many have multiple applicants. To position yourself for success, try the strategies in these articles.

Fellowships and Assistantships

Graduate assistants typically perform a role at the school, such as a teaching position or a research position, and receive tuition as pay. Some assistant roles may also provide a living stipend. These are sometimes called work-study programs.

A fellowship is a similar opportunity, but without the work component. Fellowships may come from the school or they may come from a foundation that has an interest in your field. Often the research from the grad program is a benefit that the organization gets for offering the fellowship.

Student Loans

Loans should be a last resort for paying for grad school, but they may not be a bad option. When considering student loans for graduate school, shop around for a good interest rate. Interest rate may depend on your credit score and income, but it may also depend on the lender. Also, look at the terms for the loan. When will you have to pay it back? Will you be paying the loan during the academic year, or will it hold off until graduation. Are there any penalties for paying it off early? Private loans may be quite helpful in paying for grad school, but they may also be quite costly, so make sure you research carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Financial Aid

Below you’ll find answers to commonly asked financial aid questions by prospective graduate students.

What kind of financial aid is available to graduate students?

Financial aid for graduate and professional students may vary by school, program and/or eligibility. In general, graduate financial aid options may consist of scholarships and grants, fellowships, assistantships, work-study, tuition-discounts and/or student loans.

How do I apply for graduate financial aid?

To apply for graduate financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available at:

When should I apply for graduate financial aid?

While there is no official deadline to apply for federal loans for graduate students; you should aim to apply at least 6 weeks before the terms begins to allow sufficient time for processing.

Am I required to attend graduate school full time in order to be eligible for graduate financial aid?

Many federal financial aid programs require full-time attendance; however, some only require part-time attendance.  Your best bet is to speak directly with a financial aid professional at your school.

How many credit-hours do I have to take to be considered a full-time student?

The number of credit-hours needed for part-time or full-time status can vary depending on your program of study and/or school. In order to understand the requirements at your particular school, you should contact a financial aid representative.

Do I have to continue paying undergraduate loans while I’m in school as a graduate student?

If you have undergraduate federal student loans, and have returned to complete a graduate degree, you may be eligible for either a forbearance or deferment of previous loans. You should consult directly with your loan provider to get details of all available options.

Do I have to apply for financial aid each year?

Yes, students are generally required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year.

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