Step 5: Find Ways to Fund Your Future Education
Funding for graduate or professional school can come from many different sources. The most popular are described below:
Graduate Assistantships: Graduate assistantships usually take the form of teaching or research assistantships. They are typically salaried and half-time (20 hour per week) positions in your graduate department. Ask your department about these opportunities.
Fellowships and Scholarships: These really come in two types – institutional and private. Check with your graduate program for fellowships or scholarships for which you might be qualified. Be sure to do this well before application deadlines as many programs require earlier deadlines for fellowship and scholarship applicants. For information on fellowships and scholarships from private sources, see the link below. But again, look early since application deadlines can be as early as 18 months prior to the time you begin graduate study (that’s the spring of your junior year if you want to go to graduate school right after you complete your Bachelor’s degree.)
Resident Assistantships: Many larger universities hire graduate or professional students to be residential coordinators. This position typically pays a salary and room and board. It’s a great deal, especially if you’re attending school in an urban area. If you’ve worked as a RA as an undergrad, your chances of securing one of these positions is much better. Check with the residential life department at your graduate institution for these opportunities.
Loans: Be prepared. This is one of the #1 ways that graduate and professional students pay for their graduate education. The government allows graduate students to take larger loans than undergraduate students. See the FAFSA website for more information.
College Work-Study: Even graduate and professional students qualify for work-study. The pay is hourly and similar to what you make as an undergrad, but if you have the time, it’s a better alternative to larger loans.
It’s important to fully research all issues related to financing your graduate or professional education prior to entering. Contact the financial aid administrators at any program you are considering to gain a complete understanding of the student aid process at each school. Following are some great links to more information on graduate and professional school funding.
- FinAid: The Smart Guide to Financial Aid At this FREE site, students can find links to other scholarship search services as well as "calculators" for estimating an individual's need for financial aid. General information on the "how-to" of applying for aid is also available and updated regularly.
- FAFSA Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at this site. It's a good idea to prepare this form in advance, since it is used to determine your eligibility for all government including loans and work-study and many non-government aid programs.
- E-Student Loan Shop for the best loans with the site's LoanFinder, which allows users to compare lenders. The site asks for preferences (on payment terms, deferment options, etc.) and uses the information you provide to find matching lenders.
- Sallie Mae Graduate student loan information.
- Collegiate Scholarship Search
- Nationally Coveted College Scholarships, Graduate Fellowships, and Postdoctoral Awards
- US News & World Report