Financial Aid For Graduate School: Options for Continuing Your Education

Financial Aid For Graduate School: Options for Continuing Your Education

Pursuing a master’s or graduate program can benefit individuals of all backgrounds by bolstering their credentials and solidifying their resumes. It can support professionals seeking opportunities to advance their careers, job seekers who want to stand out in a competitive market, and new college graduates who want to continue their education.

It’s been shown that obtaining an advanced degree may improve your employment opportunities, increase your earning potential, and give you a competitive edge over others in your field, among other benefits.1

That said, continuing your education is a hefty financial investment for any continuing student. Many graduates find themselves wondering, can you get financial aid for graduate school?

Short answer: yes, you can. 

There are several ways that graduate students can fund their graduate study with different types of financial aid, like grants, scholarship opportunities, and student loans. Here are a few ideas for paying for your graduate degree.

Funding Your Graduate Education: A Guide

Master’s degree programs offer post-graduate degrees in a vast array of subjects. To future employers and colleagues in your chosen field, holding a master’s degree may indicate that you have:1

  • Advanced knowledge of a given subject or field
  • Elevated skills
  • Enhanced job preparedness

Master’s degree programs typically require the completion of between 30 and 60 credit hours. You’ll typically study for about two years, although the duration can vary greatly from program to program and from student to student. Graduate students often go on to obtain higher-level professional positions with increased salaries and more diverse opportunities. You can also continue your education further by pursuing a doctorate degree in certain subjects.

To enroll in a master’s degree program, you’ll likely need to obtain an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution first. From there, you’ll need to submit an admissions application, copies of your official transcripts, and in many cases, letters of recommendation. 

Once you’re accepted, you’ll have to figure out how to fund your education.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Graduate School?

Graduate education can be a worthwhile investment for many people, but it’s not cheap. A graduate degree can cost between $30,000 and $120,000, depending on:2

  • Where you study
  • Your chosen field
  • Program duration

But there’s good news for scholars: There are a few different ways that graduate students can acquire student financial aid funding for tuition and related costs of attending, like housing, books, and other expenses. In some ways, the process of doing so is not very different from how you funded your undergraduate education, but there are distinctions. 

Here’s the process for gaining financial aid for graduate school.

You’ll Need to Submit a FAFSA 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you submit to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid purposes. If you have an undergraduate degree, it’s likely that you’ve already completed this application a few times. However, funds are awarded a bit differently for graduate students.

The graduate study FAFSA application has the following differences:3

  • Dependency status – Whereas most undergradates include their parents’ financial information in their FAFSA education, only your individual income is considered as a graduate student.
  • Financial need options – The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal student aid. For graduate students, this usually means an unsubsidized federal loan or a graduate PLUS loan, both of which come with interest rates and annual fees. 
  • Limits on borrowing – For graduate students, unsubsidized federal loans are only awarded up to $20,500.4 However, grad PLUS loans allow you to borrow up to the full amount of a graduate education.

Determine Your Aid Options 

Once you’ve completed your FAFSA, you’ll know whether you’re eligible for federal aid and how much you’re able to get. But federal loans aren’t the only way to pay for grad school. Many graduate students fund their education with:3

  • Private loans – Private loan lenders regularly issue loans to help graduate students meet the cost of tuition. Lending limits, interest rates, and other factors will vary depending on the lender.
  • Grants and fellowships – Some graduate students pay for their education with grants awarded by federal, state, or local institutions. Other students are awarded fellowships or assistantships from their schools that cover all or some of the cost of tuition.
  • Work-study programs – You may be able to fund your education by working part-time in a field related to your course of study. Work-study programs are federally funded.

Easy, Straightforward Financial Aid—Thanks to GOV+

Pursuing a master’s degree isn’t cheap, but there are funding options available to help you cover the costs. Completing aid forms like the FAFSA and enrolling in a program will likely require you to submit personal identification, like your social security card, so make sure all of your vital documents are in order. 

Here at GOV+, we ensure you have all your most important documents on hand when you need them most. We can also provide any FAFSA FAQs, so if you’re wondering how much financial aid you can get or are just looking for a simple FAFSA guide, we’re here to help. Reach out today and discover how easy we can make graduate school financial aid applications.  

Sources: 

1. Indeed. Top 10 Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/benefits-of-earning-a-masters-degree 

2. Education Data. Average Cost of a Master’s Degree: 2022 Analysis. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-masters-degree#

3. Forbes. How The FAFSA Differs for Grad School. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/student-loans/fafsa-for-grad-school/ 

4. Forbes. Best Graduate Student Loans of November 2022. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/student-loans/best-graduate-student-loans/ 

FAFSA

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