Your quick guide to paying for graduate school

Grad school piggy bank

Want to change the world? There’s a degree for that! Learn about graduate school programs and meet admissions representatives at one of our grad school fairs, coming to a city near you! RSVP for one here.

Graduate school can be a great way to advance your career, explore new fields, and deepen your impact. That being said, it’s also major financial investment. So after you decide you want to go, your next question might be: “How on Earth am I going to pay it?”

Fortunately, there are a few options out there to help you pay for graduate school. With a little planning and research, you can ensure you’ll be financially sound as you pursue your degree.

Understand your own finances and potential earnings

While there are many resources available to help you finance your education (see video below), you still have to plan and prepare for the financial cost of attending graduate school. What will your future earnings be with your new degree? How much can you save or afford to spend out of pocket? These questions and others will help you be more clear-eyed about the cost of your program.

Must-have resource: Are you financially ready for graduate school?

Research all funding options to avoid relying on one source of support

Most people search for scholarships to help cover the cost of their graduate degree. However, there are plenty of other resources available, if you do a little digging. Individual departments, professional associations, and even your employer might have money available for you to pursue an advanced degree.

Must-have resources: How to finance your graduate school education; how to find and land a scholarship for graduate school ; considerations if you are a current or former service corps member

Be sure to complete the FAFSA for federal loan support

By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) you can qualify for federal, need-based student loans and work study opportunities. There are also loan repayment programs for federal loans that can help make the cost of attending graduate school more manageable.

Must-have resource: Good to know: A loan forgiveness program for people pursuing public service degrees

Don’t be afraid to ask for more aid

You’re building relationships with people throughout the process. Keep this in mind so you can feel comfortable asking questions and, if necessary, asking for additional support.

Must-have resource: Interacting with admissions staff; the “unwritten” application

Have more questions about paying for grad school? Attend a free Idealist grad fair in a city near you and talk with admissions and financial aid representatives!

September 22 – New York
September 23 – Philadelphia
September 29 – Boston
October 14 – Phoenix
October 15 – Houston
October 16 – New Orleans
October 20 – Miami (Coral Gables)
October 22 – Minneapolis
October 23 – Chicago
October 27 – Columbus
October 28 – Washington DC
October 29 – Baltimore
November 3 – Seattle
November 4 – Portland
November 6 – San Francisco
November 10 – Los Angeles
November 12 – San Diego (La Jolla)

Have any other helpful resources to add? Share them in the comments!

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  1. I’ve used the opportunity of teaching abroad to save money to help me pay fo graduate school. I highly recommend it.

    • Cullen
    • September 27, 2014

    As a college student this advice is extremely helpful. Although I do not often think of the bigger picture, I need to begin to envision what I am going to pursue and build on post graduation in order to be able to gain an income source and pay off whatever debt I have accumulated. I also did not realize that there would be so many other sources of money to help pay for college, such as employers wishing to invest in their workers. The only advice I can offer is I would strongly recommend applying for the FAFSA as early as one can. Applications for the FAFSA start at midnight on January 1st and the FAFSA does not just give out loans but also scholarships. The earlier a person applies will increase their chances to receive a scholarship (money they do not have to repay) instead of a loan (debt).

  2. Pingback: 5 questions to consider when researching graduate school programs | Idealist Careers

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