Now that I’ve told you how to apply for graduate school, you might be wondering how you’re going to pay for it all. If thinking about paying for grad school sends you into a panicked frenzy, then just take a deep breath and read this post to put things into perspective before you change your mind about grad school.
Applying early has paid off (in more ways than one) for some graduate students. According to Michael Morella, Damien Frierson applied for graduate school about 3 months before the deadline. Because of his early start and for applying for a fellowship, he was offered an award that covered his tuition. He also received an annual $18,000 for researching, teaching, and other work for 15 hours per week for the school. Applying early opened the graduate school’s eyes to Frierson, so he received benefits that other applicants didn’t even know were available to them. Read more about Frierson in Morella’s article.
Students always have the choice of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), so definitely give that a try and see how many grants you might receive. Luckily, you don’t have to pay back grants, but you will need to pay back loans; however, if you apply for and receive Stafford Loans, you will have a 6-month grace period to begin paying them back, so keep that into consideration. Morella also discusses how to borrow money for graduate school in his article, so make sure to read about the specifics of school loans there.
Get a Job
A lot of grad students see getting a job as their only choice in paying for grad school. I listed this way of getting money last because I wanted to be sure you understand your other options. I’m not saying that getting a job while in grad school is bad, especially if it pertains to your field, but attending grad school and working at the same time can be difficult. Many jobs are available to graduate students on campus, including teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and work-studies. Take a look at the idealist article that defines these positions a little more for you. If you decide to get a job, Tara Kuther has some great tips about how you should handle having a job, whether it’s part time or full time, in grad school.
In the end, the amount of money that you will eventually spend on graduate school—whether you’re paying your way while you’re in school or paying back loans after school—will be worth it. If graduate school is something that you want to accomplish and it’s been your dream to become an expert in your field, then don’t let money be the thing to hold you back. There are plenty of options out there—you just have to look for them and make the effort to take advantage of them. For more resources about paying for graduate school, visit our PhDStudent page that’s all about this subject.