Finding Graduate School Financial Aid
If you are thinking about going back to school to receive a graduate degree, whether to pursue a new career or obtain a new degree to better your opportunities for employments, you have more than likely thought about the price of graduate school. The price of graduate school can be unnerving. Luckily, pursuing a higher degree can help you in the long run and there is graduate school financial aid to help you pay for school. However, if you are unsure what financial aid is or what exactly your options are, you do not have to fret because there are plenty of options out there for you to take advantage of. After all, most people cannot help afford undergraduate school, let alone graduate school without a little financial assistance.
The first step to finding graduate school financial aid is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. Most undergraduates have experience with this free application so you are more than likely familiar with how the application works and what you need. However, if you never filled out a FAFSA or applied for financial aid as an undergraduate, you need to complete this application in order to be eligible for financial aid. It determines your financial need and how much aid, and what types of financial aid you are eligible for, if any.
Types of Financial Aid
There are many different types of financial aid available. Not all types are going to be suitable for you, so it is best to research every option to see which work best for you and your financial situation. You may be able to have more than one type of financial aid help you pay for graduate school, if you are eligible.
Grants are the type of graduate school financial aid that every grad student wants. It is money that you do not have to pay back, which will save you from having to pay back a ton of money in the future. Grants can be used in grad school for travel, research, projects, and experiments.
There are two types of grants available to graduate students: grants from the government and grants from private sources. Government grants are given based on eligibility and financial need, which is determined by your FAFSA application. These grants require students to maintain a certain GPA while in school. On the other hand, private grants are given to students based on certain criteria and are usually awarded as scholarships. These types of loans have their own guidelines based on the private source.
Like grants, scholarships are not paid back. They are awarded to students based on a student's academic excellence or academic talents. Scholarships can also be awarded based on other factors, such as ethnic background, financial need, area of study, sexual orientation, etc. Eligibility and award amounts vary based on the scholarship source. Scholarships can be awarded by schools as well as private sources. Amounts and the duration of the award are based off of the award source. In addition, application requirements vary from source to source.
Teaching assistantships are like internships and work-study programs. Students will work as teaching assistants or research assistantships, basically employed at the university where the students is pursuing their graduate degree, teaching or doing research. Not all institutions offer this type of financial assistance and students must meet certain eligibility criteria, like all other forms of aid.
Fellowships are another source of financial aid that does not require students to pay back the money, very much like scholarships. They are only available to graduate students and post-graduate students. Many different sources offers fellowships and students can receive this aid through the government, an educational institution, or a private source. In addition, the aid can be used for either research or education. Like other types of financial aid, fellowships require different eligibility criteria based on the source, in addition to the fellowship amount.
You are most likely more familiar with loans. There are many different kinds of loans. Loans are based on need and must be repaid, either right away, or starting 6 months after the student has been out of school. Unlike other types of aid, loans accrue interest. Like all other forms of aid, loan providers each have guidelines, eligibility, requirements, interest rates, repayment options, and so forth.
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