Financing graduate education is different than financing undergraduate education. There are far fewer grants (money that does not have to be paid back) available to graduate students. Where grants are available, these are often restricted to specific programs and specific student needs. Many graduate programs have fellowships and assistantships. These are programs that assist with the cost of attending graduate school. Many of these will require you to work as a Teaching Assistant or a Research Assistant. Fellowship and assistantship programs need to be applied for and deadlines vary. However, the competition for these types of funding is competitive. You stand a greater chance of being offered a fellowship/assistantship if you apply early.
There are graduate schools/programs that do not have fellowships or assistantships. In these cases graduate students who need financial aid may find it necessary to apply for student loans. There are maximum loan amounts that students can be awarded so if you are planning to pursue graduate education, make sure you are not over-borrowing for your undergraduate studies.
Prospective graduate students should contact the Financial Aid Office where they are applying to graduate school. They will provide you with your options to finance your graduate education. Most colleges and universities that offer graduate programs have many scholarships especially for graduate students.
Finally, there are a number of philanthropic organizations and foundations that grant scholarships to individual students. There are literally thousands of scholarships available. However, each organization and foundation has criteria for awarding scholarships and the student’s challenge is finding the organization/foundation that will fund the individual. Scholarships are awarded by academic discipline, gender, minority status, last name, state or city of residence or age to name only a few.
Website and Career Services Office resources on Graduate Education financial aid:
-Getting Money for Graduate School; Thomson/Peterson’s, 2002
-Scholarship Almanac; Peterson’s, 2003
-Scholarships, Grants and Prizes, Thomson/Peterson’s, 2003
-Yale Daily News Gide to Fellowships and Grants; Cohen, Justin and Ali, Mohamadi, 1999
-Free Money for Graduate School, Blum, Laurie, 1993