Paying for Grad School
Fortunately, as a graduate student, you have a couple of additional options for financial assistance with your education. Besides personal savings or earnings and scholarships, you may be eligible for the following.
Grants and Fellowships
Many types of grants for graduate students are sponsored by the federal government. Fellowships are similar to grants and are often grouped with them. Graduate schools and a variety of entities fund fellowships, which don't need to be paid back.
Colleges and universities offer graduate students money in return for work as a teaching or research assistant. Many assistantships require full teaching responsibility for at least one class. If you're carrying a full course load as well, think carefully about how you'll manage your time as an assistant.
Tuition Help From Employers
Many companies offer some type of tuition reimbursement program. Your employer sees tuition reimbursement as an investment – you receive training for your job or advancement in the company. You also obtain a great source of financial assistance.
Federal and Private Loans
Loans, because they must be repaid with interest, should be the last financial aid option you use. Consider loans only after you use savings, earnings and other types of financial aid.
If you do consider loans, federal loans will generally offer lower fees and better terms than private student loans. Besides the federal loans available to all students, graduate and professional students are also eligible for the Federal Grad PLUS Loans.
Federal Grad PLUS Loans are funded by the federal government.
To be eligible for Federal Grad PLUS Loan funds, you must:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible.
- Pass a credit check to borrow through the program.
- Apply for the annual loan maximum you are eligible for under the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program before applying for the Federal Grad PLUS Loan.
You'll also need to know these important facts about Federal Grad PLUS Loans:
- The interest rate is fixed at 7.90%.
- Your loan limit equals the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus other financial aid you receive.
- There is no cumulative lifetime maximum.
- There is no federally guaranteed grace period.
- Repayment begins 60 days after the final loan disbursement for the academic year, however, lenders may defer repayment while you're enrolled in college on at least a half-time basis.
- If your loan was first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, you may also defer repayment for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half time.