Graduate Financial Aid Funding
After you've filled out all of your financial aid paperwork, your school will send you a financial aid award package. Your graduate financial aid award package will tell you what types of graduate student financial aid you are eligible to accept. Generally, your financial aid package will be composed of four types of aid:
- Scholarships and Fellowships
- Grad Stafford Loans
- Private student loans
- Work study and teaching assistantships
Your eligibility for each type of financial aid is determined primarily by financial need, which in turn is determined by a variety of tools like the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE. On the other hand, graduate private student loans are not need-based - approval is based on your credit and can cover costs not covered by student loans and scholarships.
Try to get a handle on your financial circumstances. Develop a budget of your monthly income and expenses and figure out if you can pay educational costs from assets, savings or cash. Remember, every dollar you pay (rather than borrowing) will save on repayment and interest charges.
Undoubtedly, there are going to be large numbers thrown around in your research and discussions with graduate schools. Don't dismiss a grad school because of its high cost. Learn more about the school's graduate financial aid policies and consider the benefits of an education from that institution. Then, relate those factors to your resources and how you might meet the costs.
Never stop looking for graduate financial aid! There are numerous scholarship searches, organizations and foundations that may be able to help. Take an active role in seeking these resources and start with our College Scholarship Search page.
Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships
The trick for finding scholarships is to start early - and search often. We recommend starting at Student Scholarship Search as it does not require you to enter any personal information and you can get right to where you need to go without any user names or passwords.
Check with your school's financial aid office, talk with friends, and search Google. Finding scholarships is possible and is in your hands. Graduate students have some different options that are not available to undergraduate students, including Graduate Fellowships. There are also many more assistantships available to the more mature graduate level student. For many of these programs, you will want to talk with the dean or a faculty member of the program you are enrolling in.
Funding From Your Graduate Program
According to ED statistics, your school is likely to provide nearly as much of your graduate funding as the federal government is. To find out what aid is available at your school, contact the financial aid office as well as a faculty member in your area of study. For instance, if you plan to seek a Master of Arts in French Literature, you might speak to the Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies for the French department.
Federal and Graduate Private Student Loans
Keep in mind that federal loans with the lowest interest rates and with the most options for deferring payment are awarded to those with the greatest need. Various loan types are available. You may not be eligible for all of the loan programs - your school's financial aid office determines your eligibility for both loan and non-loan programs.
There are a variety of low-interest student loans and other aid programs available to graduate students through the Direct Loan Program. Many are similar to the undergraduate yet with higher annual loan limit amounts. Others are unique to a graduate student's specific area of study. In addition, many lenders offer private loans to meet graduate need.
Loan Options for Graduate Students:
- Graduate Stafford Loan
- Private Loan for Graduate Students
- Graduate PLUS Loan
- Graduate Loan Consolidation