A few months ago one of my colleagues told me she was planning to go to grad school.
“I’ll take out loans,” she said.
I winced. I urged her to look into other ways to finance her graduate education and to take out loans only as a last resort.
An article I found in my news feed discusses several options for financing one’s grad school education:
- Apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA
- Search for scholarships
- Ask your employer about tuition assistance
- Defer your undergraduate loans
- Work your way through school
Below is an excerpt of the article, “How to Go Back to Grad School Without Going Broke,” from TheWeek.com.
Thinking of going back to school? Maybe you’re ready for a career change, or you feel like you need a new skill set to advance in your current career. Whatever the reason, going back to school can be both exciting and daunting at the same time.
Sure, it may seem easier to handle the financial load now that you’re a money-making adult, but that comes with a catch. While you may have more cash in the bank, you also have more responsibilities and more people depending on you, so taking on a grad program can require some serious thought and consideration. You may have also become accustomed to the lifestyle that comes with an adult salary.
If you’re settled into a career but considering a return to school, here are some options to help you reduce the cost. With a little bit of planning, it might not be as expensive as you think.
- Apply for financial aid
Financial aid isn’t just for undergraduates, and you should absolutely think of taking advantage of it. You’ll have to fill out the FAFSA, which determines whether or not you qualify for any grants or loans. Schools will also use results from your FAFSA to establish your eligibility for other forms of financial aid, such as work-study. Most university departments have financial aid officers who deal with financing for graduate students if you have questions.
Ask the financial aid office about scholarships and search online directories like FastWeb, GoodCall, and Scholly for private scholarships. The financial aid office might also be able to tell you how to apply for work-study or get a teaching assistant position, which can pay a small stipend.
- Ask your job about tuition assistance
Some employers offer tuition assistance and reimbursement programs. Before you apply for grad school, ask your company’s HR department about any benefits you may be eligible for. If there’s no formal tuition reimbursement program, consider putting in a personal request with your boss.
Read more at TheWeek.