How to Find Money for Graduate School

••• Hemera Technologies/ Images

If you are planning to go to graduate school, you might be able to do it without spending much, or any, of your own money. Many schools will lower your tuition costs if you agree to work for them while you are attending. You can lower your expenses further with money from scholarships and grants. Eighty percent of full-time graduate students are receiving an average of $20,000 per year in financial aid. Your goal should be to leave graduate school without the burden of debt.

Ask your academic adviser for a list of scholarships, grants or other sources of money for graduate school. The financial aid office and the department head for your major are also good sources of information.

Visit the Federal Student Aid website and fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid – or FAFSA. Federal Student Aid offers grants and work study programs to help students pay for college and graduate school.

Attend a professional or trade association meeting related to your area of study. The association might have a list of scholarships and grants.

Review your employee benefit package to see if your company offers educational assistance to its employees. Many large companies do. The amount your company pays usually depends on your grade.

Contact your local or state board of higher education to find out what kind of financial assistance is available for graduate school. For example, some states assist military personnel and their dependents; some assist only those who are on active duty, but some assist those who are in the reserves. Some states offer low-interest loans to those who are studying to enter an in-demand profession, such as health care or teaching. Financial assistance for graduate school varies from one state to another.

Inquire about a possible assistantship. With an assistantship, you will work for a stipend as a research assistant or teaching assistant. Assistantships are available most often for physical sciences.

Check into companies that might consider letting you perform research for them in exchange for paying for part or all of your graduate school tuition.

Consider getting a Ph.D., instead of a master’s, if a Ph.D. is available in your field. More financial assistance is available for doctrinal candidates than for master’s candidates.

Apply to one or more graduate schools. After considering the information you learned in performing Steps 1 through 8, apply for scholarships, grants or assistantships.