A Guide to Graduate School Scholarships, Assistantships & Graduate School Loans

Graduate school can pay, literally. Not only can it help you realize your professional aspirations, but graduate degrees can also increase your earning potential. Going back to school can seem intimidating for a lot of reasons, but don’t let your graduate program’s price tag be the one thing that deters you from accomplishing your educational, professional and financial goals. Find out how you can fund your education with graduate school grants, assistantships, fellowships and graduate school loans.

Pick a program that pays

Many graduate schools, especially PhD programs, pay or offer stipends to students for assisting in the classroom, in a lab or in the dormitories. Working for your university is not only an excellent way of funding your education, but it’s also an impressive resume builder you can take into the workforce, be it in academia or the private sector.

  • Work as a teaching assistant. When you’re inquiring about your preferred graduate program, find out if you’re eligible to work as a teaching assistant. Many teaching assistants earn free or discounted tuition, and/or a stipend. Large universities may even offer additional benefits like health insurance and retirement funds.
  • Get paid to conduct research. Like teaching assistantships, research assistants usually work part-time and are awarded tuition and living assistance as compensation. Remember both research and teaching assistants are only awarded to students with a high academic performance and a good relationship with faculty.
  • Live for free as a resident assistant. If you cannot obtain a research or teaching assistantship, consider becoming a resident assistant (RA). RAs don’t typically get tuition reimbursed, but are usually awarded free or steeply discounted university housing instead.

Contact your graduate program to see what kinds of graduate assistantships and employment opportunities are available to you.

Win grants, scholarships and fellowships for graduate school

Fellowships, scholarships and grants are awarded by university programs, graduate departments and outside institutions based on academic achievement.

  • Earn graduate school scholarships and fellowships. Before you apply to graduate programs, contact their admission offices and ask them what scholarships and/or fellowships they offer and what it takes to win them.
  • Apply for graduate school grants. Does your graduate program involve research? If so, you may be able to apply for non-profit and government-funded grants. Although many universities may offer their own grants, you can get additional funding from outside sources. This is a great option for those pursuing degrees in science, engineering, math, and education.
  • Look into award money from other sources. Don’t just limit yourself to university-funded scholarships. Also apply for scholarships awarded by professional organizations, non-profits, government institutions, and groups that support specific ethnic groups, sexual orientations and genders.

Find out if your employer provides tuition reimbursement

If you’re seeking a degree to further your career in your current occupation, consider seeing if your current employer can help foot the bill. The Society for Human Resource Management recently conducted a survey showing that 58 percent of 550 employers offered some form of financial assistance for employees to pursue a post-graduate degree. Of course, most companies require that your coursework is relevant to your job. So, if you’re in marketing, you may be able to get funding for an M.B.A., but not a PhD in history.

Fill out a FAFSA & apply for student loans

If it turns out you don’t have access to tuition reimbursement benefits, paid graduate assistantships or fellowships, make sure you fill out a Financial Aid (FAFSA) form when you apply to your graduate program. You may be surprised how much federal financial assistance you might qualify for, especially if you’re in need. Then, once you’ve discovered how much you can receive in federal student loans, apply for student loans  through a private lender. Private graduate school loans are often an ideal option for students looking for an affordable way to cover the costs of higher education.                 

Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.

One thought on “A Guide to Graduate School Scholarships, Assistantships & Graduate School Loans

  1. My husband was able to negotiate a bigger scholarship when he was getting his MBA. A lot of people think that scholarship offers are non-negotiable, but we learned from a good friend, right after starting law school that they are in fact negotiable. If only we’d known that before starting law school!

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