Scholarships for Graduate StudentsIf you’re searching for grad school scholarships, it may be because you got a look at the average price tag. Those 5- or even 6-figure price tags might look like a joke at first. Luckily, there’s a little hope on that horizon of yours if you want to attend a graduate program. From federal to state to private opportunities, financial aid is available for those who qualify. When many people think of scholarships, they think of undergraduate opportunities. It’s why so many grad students see nothing but loans in their future. But there may be financial aid options for graduate students when you know where to look. Grad school scholarships typically bear a striking resemblance to undergraduate scholarships. You may use them for books, tuition, and other living expenses. The scholarship organization is typically allowed to earmark funds for different things. But grad school scholarships tend to be more specific than their undergraduate counterparts. They might only be for students who go on to teach underprivileged kids. Or for doctors who do their residencies in the inner city. We admit it, there typically aren’t as many options for full-time grad school students. And you likely won’t qualify for many of them based on your major and career goals. And the scholarship might only be for $1,000 a year, which could only cover your snack time habits. But that’s ok! You may still be able to score what you need. We’ll look at what types of grad school scholarships are usually out there. Learn more about how to find them and how to apply.
Types of Grad School ScholarshipsStates, study programs, schools, professional organizations, the federal government: you’ve got options. The point of grad scholarships is to give you a final push. Too many students want their Ph.D. or master’s degree, but all they see is a steep wall ahead. They want aim to take a little of the burden off, so you have time for education. We know, putting off your career and struggling for another couple of years might not seem like much fun. But it’s worth knowing the types of scholarships before skipping grad school forever. We’ll look at what’s available.
School ScholarshipsWhether you’re entering a doctoral program or fellowship program, a scholarship award package may go a long way. Many schools offer real world financial solutions to students who want to go to grad school Your first step is to list all the schools you’re considering. From there, you could start researching what grants they offer. If you’re applying to a huge university, remember that the competition can be killer. Funding resources may be good, but it may take a lot to stand out. When you apply for a school, you’re usually screened for financial aid. You typically don’t have to fill out forms or hold a boombox outside your dean’s office window. But sometimes there may be grants available that you may need to apply for. This is often the case for scholarships through alumni. Start your application process early and don’t be afraid to be assertive. Call different departments and ask them what’s available. Helpful staff may be on the students’ side. Stone walling staff may make your graduate school experience rough. Remember that many universities typically want to work with you though.
Program ScholarshipsProgram scholarships are typically based on the chosen field of study. They may be available through any organization or individual. The scholarships available may change based on the needs that we have. So if we happen to need thousands of philosophy majors, then you’ll typically see scholarships for those.
Professional OrganizationsMany organizations are likely to fund scholarships through dues or donations. The idea is to help advance a certain field or group. You may look into a memorial scholarship, which may have been donated by a prominent family in the area. Professional organizations serve as a networking goldmine too.
Federal AidFederal aid may come in many forms for those in higher education. Notably, the Fulbright. This competitive program is typically available to students in all fields. It’s sponsored through the state department, but only given to around 1,500 students across the country. To officially qualify though, you typically require an undergraduate degree. Fulbright funds may allow you the chance to study abroad. You might also be required to teach, depending on your chosen field. But you may also look into other federal grants or programs. The government may partner with different groups across the country. Officials distribute funds as they see fit, and their criteria usually change on a regular basis. You may have heard that Pell grants are available to undergrads only. But if you’re going through a post grad teaching certification, you may be eligible.
Research FellowshipsGraduate research fellowships could sometimes be offered through the school. They may be available to those with a dedicated discipline or goal based on academic excellence. But they might also be offered through different foundations too. Many graduate fellowships are typically tailored to a student and might include extra duties. If you concentrated in molecular biology, you might be asked to TA an undergrad class, for instance. If you think the body of research in your field is sorely lacking, you might be the perfect candidate.
Minority/Needs Based ScholarshipsThere are many graduate scholarships for students based on their backgrounds. These might be judged on anything from race to personal history. For example, minorities may be eligible for state or local aid. There are also organizations that promote people of a certain culture or heritage. Whether Latino, Irish, Italian, Asian, or Polish, each nationality has its own resources. Some aid is typically reserved for undergrad degrees. But there are plenty for advanced degrees too. Submitting one application is enough to be considered for anything available. There may also be the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for students with intellectual disabilities. Students previously in foster care may also be granted certain considerations too.
Gender Based ScholarshipsDiversity is the key to gender-based scholarships. Scholarships for women are often reserved for those headed into a male dominated field. The same is true for those reserved for men. Many of these scholarships also may be available through professional organizations. But you may not necessarily need to be a member to apply. There may be scholarships for traditional fields for women too. (But they’ll likely be more competitive.) For guys, the goal is to get them more involved in social sciences. So if you were planning to pursue a career as a preschool teacher or a caseworker, these are two fields that are likely to qualify. The same is true for nursing. For this, you’re better off contacting professional organizations to see what’s out there. In other words, don’t go through an internet search.
Regional ScholarshipsNational scholarships typically get all the credit. So flashy, so attention seeking. But you might be missing the benefits of staying on your home turf. In general, you might want to work small to big. Much like starting with your alma mater, start looking into in state scholarships. From New York to California and everywhere in between, you can may find the right scholarship funds in unlikely places. As with many of our other examples, you may find that regional scholarships are conditional. You may need to show that you’re of a certain ethnic descent or enter a certain kind of program.
Corporate ScholarshipsIf your parents work for a major corporation, you might get lucky. These big businesses want good press, and helping their employees is one way to do it. The good news is that your parents don’t have to put in 20 years with the company either. Ask a parent to inquire about what’s available. You may also look into corporation funded education. So if you were pursuing a career as a pharmacist, check with one the big drug store chains.
How to Find Grad School ScholarshipsFinding grad school scholarships often means starting a conversation. From schools to professional organizations, you should be asking what’s available. This is especially crucial if you’re planning to go to a different school than your undergrad. This is typically a good time to develop relationships. Let people know about your background and what you need to get this degree. Are you prepared to supplement your scholarship with loans? Do you need everything covered or do you have some savings? Where do you think you’ll apply after graduation? Are you willing to go abroad for a year or two? These questions may help the powers that be begin to narrow down what you might qualify for. They may contact different groups who might be able to help. The more time you put in, the more likely it is that someone may go the extra mile for you. Professionals generally want to see the effort behind your field of study. This is often the best way to show that you there’s a good chance that you’ll excel in your graduate degree. If you’re only looking to delay the real world, you might not get very far. One thing that you may not want to do is type in ‘grad school scholarships’ in Google. There’s too much out there to filter through. Plus, you’re likely to miss out on the stuff that is available. Even sites that promise to match you up based on your criteria won’t be able to come up with everything. This is because some scholarships may have better PR campaigns than others. A federally funded grant like a Fullbright is typically going to make tons of information available. You might want to start with is a grad school scholarship search engine. This is a specific resource that can may give you a basic idea of what’s available. For example, Unigo has compiled a thorough list of current scholarship opportunities. Once you’ve filled out your profile, you could get matched to different scholarships. Again, it won’t give you everything, but it can may give you a basic idea of the variety in your field. If you’re planning to obtain your MBA, look for information on the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Programs page. As you might imagine, corporations may want you to have this degree. From universities to private businesses, it typically lists all the people who want to shave down your bills. Also, consider finaid.org if you’re going for more niche scholarships. (Bet you didn’t know that tall people have their own scholarship.) Their oddball requirements may help you think outside the box. There are also scholarships designed to help students who face chronic illnesses. The websites are meant to be a supplement to your research. They typically help give you ideas about where to concentrate your efforts. You may have to be strategic about what you apply for. That means you may have to be strategic about what you find. The key here is to typically start narrowing down your qualifiers. You’re looking for a reasonable number of scholarships to apply for. It may not be worth your time to apply for them all — especially if you’re only going for the most competitive options available. You could be writing essays until the end of time in that case! The number of scholarships you may apply for is based on many factors. Financial need, career choice, location, and cost of living are just a few. Talk to people who know and ask them about your odds. The ones where you feel you have the best chance are the ones you should apply to.
How to ApplyTypically graduate school scholarships may have their own criteria to work with. Whether you apply for federal aid or private scholarships, study the fine print! Some scholarship program applications may be due long before the academic year starts up, so it’s important not to make assumptions. (You may see plenty of patterns when it comes to applications, but it seems like some are likely to throw curveballs.) First things first, everyone all prospective college students should be applying to FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This resource may at least tell you what kinds of student loans you’re eligible for if you can’t pay for everything via scholarships. These loans are distributed by the Department of Education. They may be flexible on repayment options and even offer forgiveness under certain circumstances. You generally need your tax returns and social security number. You must be able to show that you’re either a United States citizen or a qualifying noncitizen. You’ll likely need your test scores (e.g., GRE for graduate studies, MCAT for med school, LSAT for law school, GMAT for future MBA students, etc). You likely also need your undergrad GPA and financial records. You may need to write an essay describing why you deserve the scholarship or indicate what you intend to do once you graduate. Some scholarships may want to see that you’re a good leader. Others may want you to show competence in a lab setting. There may be scholarships that want you to prove how much of a difference you’ve made in your community. If you’re applying based on your certain ethnicity (e.g., Hispanic, African American, Native American, etc.). Keep in mind that requirements may also vary based on your degree program. Unlike high school, things are typically different at the graduate level. If you want to distinguish yourself on your academic achievement, your letters of recommendation may have to really stand out. The more competitive the school, the more you may have to prove. One way to apply is to do your research well in advance. Keep a spreadsheet of the application deadline, documents, and submission requirements. For example, you may need to get in all your requests by email, through an app, or even in person (yes, that’s still a thing for some people).
Paying for Graduate SchoolPaying for graduate school usually takes some ingenuity. Starting with scholarship opportunities is often the best way to start deciding how you may need to adjust. You may end up in a different kind of school than you expected. You may end up adjusting your research goals or living in a different state. You may end up exactly where you started (at your alma mater). As you consider the different ways to pay for grad school (e.g., savings, loans, grants, scholarships, etc.), keep a list of deal breakers. These may help you keep an open mind when you want to skip an application. The first year of any master’s program is going to be difficult. Grad students not only have to cope with new demands, but they may also have to find ways to get by financially. Small stipends may help, but many students would prefer to have more funding opportunities available to them. Whether you’re going full time for two years or part time for several more, specific scholarships may be exactly what you need to get ahead. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. But you may have to go the extra mile to get it. You’ll typically need to narrow down the options, talk to plenty of people, and take the time to apply. Paying for grad school is going to involve some degree of hardship, but remember that it’s all for a higher goal.
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