Student Loans

Financing Graduate School Education

Students continuing their education after college are likely to find that they will be financing graduate school themselves. No worries – there are a number of resources available to finance a graduate education. Most grad students get financial help in the way of fellowships, employer tuition reimbursement, loans that are private or federal and teaching or research positions at the school they are attending. Countless graduate students use a combination of these kinds of financial aid.

Grants and Fellowships

Fellowships and grants are sought after financial award that do not require or ask for repayment. Usually they are offered by a school, an organization or even the federal government. They cover complete or partial tuition and may include an allowance for living expenses. Generally they are given based on a combination of academic merit and financial need. Often, grants and fellowships are used to attract a specific demographic such as women or minorities.

Teaching Assistant Positions

Some graduate students are employed as Teaching Assistants or TAs. Working about 20 hours per week during the academic year they are paid in the form of financial aid. A TA may lead discussion groups and lab sections of undergraduate courses taught by the school’s faculty.

Research Assistants

A research assistant is usually found in in scientific and engineering fields. These positions have a graduate student work on a research project. As compensation the student gets paid tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

A large number of employer offer full or partial tuition reimbursement for their employees attending graduate school. Check with your company’s Human Resources department to find out if they offer tuition support and what the conditions of that support are.

Federal Work-Study Program

Work-study programs provide part-time jobs for students who are enrolled in graduate school. Whenever possible, the work involves community service or is related to the student’s field of study.

Federal Graduate Student Loans

Graduate students who can prove financial need can be eligible to apply for federal loans. Depending on need the loan can be subsidized. If it is a subsidized federal loan interest does not begin to accrue until the loan repayment starts. Unsubsidized federal loans accrue interest from the time the money is first loaned to the student. There are three kinds of federal loans for graduate students:

  • Stafford Loans
  • Perkins Loans – administered by the school
  • PLUS Loans

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Graduate students can have their federal loans forgiven if they work in public service or for a non-profit organization. This is a great option for financing a graduate degree. These programs are sponsored by schools, state government and the federal government. In return for working a specific length of time following graduation a student gets a fixed percentage of loan repayment.

Private Loans

Private loans should be the last resort for financing graduate school education. They have higher interest rates and usually begin to accrue interest while the student is at graduate school.