If you’re thinking about continuing your education and going on to graduate school, you are likely wondering about the pricetag. It’s no secret that school is expensive, so we’ve compiled a list of ways for you to make your grad school experience more affordable.
1. Apply for scholarships, grants, and fellowships
Instead of immediately taking out loans, send in your applications for money that you won’t have to pay back. Many schools offer graduate level scholarships based off of merit. Be sure to explore your specific academic department (rather than the central financial office) for the opportunities they provide. You will want to submit your application as early as possible in case aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
2. Submit the FAFSA each year you need money for grad school
You probably remember submitting the FAFSA each year for your undergraduate years! Even as a graduate student, you may qualify for federal or state aid. If this is your first time filling out the FAFSA, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you out!
3. Turn to your employer
If you’re already in the working world with hopes of going back to school, you should definitely inquire about tuition reimbursement at your work! (Especially if your desired program has some connection to your position). If your employers offer tuition reimbursement, be sure to demonstrate how this coursework will add value to your role at the company. Keep in mind that you may be required to work a certain amount of time after you complete your degree.
4. Work for the college you attend
One way to greatly reduce the cost of your education is to work at the college you’re attending. They may be able to partially cover your tuition and pay a periodic stipend in exchange for research or classroom instruction. Most of these opportunities are presented by individual departments, so you may have to dig to find it!
5. Consider an online degree
Remember, there are many ways to receive your graduate degree! Participating in an online program can be much cheaper than in-person alternatives. This is also an ideal option for folks with busy schedules who value convenience and flexibility. To learn more about succeeding in online courses, read this article!
6. Go to school part-time
Attending school as a part-time student, you will have less fees to pay simply because you won’t be in as many classes as full-time students. When you are able to spread the cost of your education across a larger time frame, you won’t feel the financial burden as much. However, you should know that it’s more difficult to obtain scholarships as a part-time student. This may not be a problem, though! Attending school part-time means that you will likely continue to work full-time.
7. Find a one-year program
In contrast to studying part-time, pursuing a one-year program is significantly less flexible. Due to the intensive and fast-paced nature of the curriculum, working at the same time would be difficult. Many graduate schools offer all kinds of one-year master’s programs, but many of them fall within these branches of study: business, education, and biomedical science.
8. Wait to attend
No matter if you just finished your undergraduate studies or if you’ve been working for years, it may be worth it to take some time to build up your savings. That way, you will have some out-of-pocket money that’s ready for your education. For those who are recent graduates, keep in mind that many programs do not accept students until they’ve earned some work experience. But don’t fret! You may find that taking some time to work will give you a better idea of what you want.
9. Adopt cost-saving habits
Sometimes incorporating frugal habits into your routine and working them in conjunction with your financial aid can make all the difference in your school’s affordability. To save money, think about living at home, living with roommates, buying/renting used books, shopping second-hand, and so on.
With these tips, you are bound to find a way to reduce the cost of your graduate studies. We recommend you list all the potential schools and programs you are considering, and the price associated with them. This will give you the chance to evaluate and compare each one side-by-side. Be sure to keep your long-term goals in mind, and choose a school that will set you up to accomplish your dreams!