Paying for Graduate School

Katie Yeaton@kyeat29

When I was applying to Master’s programs one topic we rarely discussed was funding. Yes, Graduate Assistantships were highlighted and maybe a few scholarships sprinkled into conversations, but unless I asked about funding, I did not hear about funding. Now in my search for the “right fit” doctoral program, I am revisiting these funding questions and want you to get in on the conversation. I encourage you to ask about funding in your graduate program search.

The follow are five funding reasons you may want to ask about or look into for yourself:

  1. Graduate Assistantships:
Working at your institution can be a great experience not only to get a full/partial tuition reimbursement, but to get to know your school. A GA/Teacher’s Assistant/Research Assistant position could allow you to work with students, staff, and faculty in a different capacity than your graduate classroom setting. I currently work as an Academic Success Coach at UNLV, which is a Graduate Assistant role. I love working in such a collaborative role between our Academic Success Center, our Residential Life, and advising teams, and I have grown as a professional because of this role. Our coaching team has been a great support and I love being a part of something bigger than myself. So, I highly recommend going out for a GA for financial, professional development, and personal development reasons.

  1. Scholarships (school and outside):
Write, write, write! A lot of schools offer scholarships and, even though they may not advertised on your application letter, know that you can find them if you contact your (prospective) college or school’s HR department. What I have found from my own scholarship research is a number of universities offer scholarships for graduate students who completed their Bachelor’s degree at that same institution. If you decide to attend a university difference from your undergrad--like me--then start asking HR and your college questions. I started talking with the College of Education this past year because of my GA and I coincidentally found out about graduate scholarships, including one specifically for Nevada-state residents. I was fortunate to apply and get this scholarship to help me through my last year of my Master’s, and it’s all because I started talking with the advisors in the College of Education.
You can also look for scholarships outside of your graduate institution. Whether you are looking for conference scholarships, tuition waivers/funding, or general help-me-pay-for-grad-school scholarships, know that you will find something if you continue to search and ask people questions. One association I was made aware of during undergrad was

American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) local and national scholarships for research funding. Whilst these awards are primarily for women, you may also find some luck researching your professional association’s websites. NASPA and ASHE both have conference scholarships, amongst other financial-support opportunities. Remember, keep searching, keep asking questions, and keep writing!

Scholarship Links:

  1. Work:
Alike working as a Graduate Assistant, working at your university can also have significant financial rewards. Review your contract, talk with your supervisor, and ask HR about your options as an employee/student of your institution.

  1. Financial Aid:
Apply! I have heard so many friends say they did not apply for financial aid because they “knew” they would not get anything. Well, you do not know until you apply. This year I was fortunately to receive a scholarship from UNLV because I submitted my FASFA, so I encourage you to apply too and ask your school’s financial aid office questions.

  1. Loans:
To be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of loans and I have pushed myself to continue applying to scholarship so I will not have to pay off student loans for the rest of my life. Truth is you may feel more financially stable if you take out a loan at the beginning of graduate school. If you can get a loan through your financial aid or your school, I would personally opt to take this option. If you have a through financial aid you could defer paying off your loans until you have completed graduate schools; whereas, if you take out a loan from a private or personal bank you may have to start making loan payments during graduate school. My advice is to ask questions and get everything in writing. If you decide to take out a loan know when and how much you will have to pay.
In all, remember you are not alone and to keep the conversation going. Ask about funding and be honest about your situation.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have anything to add? Join in on the conversation @SAFirstYears

Student Affairs - the First Years

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