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Categorized | Paying For College

Four Ways To Pay For Graduate School

So, you’ve earned your undergraduate diploma and have decided to continue your education by pursuing a graduate degree. You’ve researched programs, schools and locations, and have narrowed your options down to a handful of choices that meet your requirements. Deciding on a program, though, is just one of the many steps to earning a master’s degree.

The question of how to pay for all this additional education is a major issue. It’s no secret that graduate school is a huge investment and, unless your name is Papa John, delivering pizza won’t even come close to offsetting the costs of an advanced degree.

It’s true that many graduate degrees pay for themselves over the course of a career; still, the initial costs can be daunting. With business school tuition averaging more than $102,000 in 2011-2012 and law school costing nearly $50,000 per academic year, isn’t it worth exploring every possible avenue for help paying with school? Consider these options:

Get your employer to pay

Many companies support employees who want to advance their educational qualifications while continuing to work full time. Such an arrangement can be mutually beneficial, allowing an employee to gain additional credentials and giving an employer a better-trained staff. Arranging the necessary support and logistics can take some time, so workers need to present a strong case as to why furthering their education can add value to the organization. Remind your employer about the potential tax breaks in this arrangement and know that you’ll be expected to make a long-term commitment to continue working for the company once you get your degree.

Military service

Through their various financial assistance programs, including Tuition Assistance (TA) and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the branches of the U.S. armed forces will provide eligible service members and veterans with assistance in paying for grad school. While the GI Bill is familiar to many people, other lesser-known programs are available. For example, the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship Program may cover 100% of the cost of dental and medical school tuition, and also provide a monthly stipend for individuals interested in a healthcare career with the Navy. Tuition Assistance funds also are available for service members who want to pursue a master’s degree. With more schools offering 100% online graduate programs, it’s becoming increasingly possible for military personnel to complete degrees while balancing deployments and other duties.

Scholarships

Scholarship opportunities may include merit- and need-based awards, essay contests and career-specific financial help. The key to finding a scholarship is research, so it’s imperative to invest adequate time and energy in looking for potential sources of assistance. Check out professional organizations, public agencies and private corporations; Web-based directories are a good place to start your search. Although career-specific scholarships are typically easier to find in the nursing and teaching professions, there are other options.

Fellowships and assistantships

Most graduate schools hire graduate students to assist faculty with research projects or classroom instruction; these are commonly known as assistantships or fellowships. Under such arrangements, a school may pay at least a portion of a graduate student’s tuition and fees, and possibly even include a stipend and partial or full health insurance. Not only are fellowships and assistantships helpful financially, they also provide students with on-the-job experience in their career field, as well as access to mentors and academics. Securing an assistantships or fellowships is often very competitive, meaning it’s a good idea to start researching options early in the grad school application process. Also, graduate fellowships typically require a substantial written application and submission of a research proposal.

The bottom line in paying for graduate school is that you need to be creative and dogged in your search for financial resources. Although the cost of a master’s degree can be significant, the long-term professional and personal benefits can also be substantial. So, leave no stone unturned and no application unfilled.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article is provided by Grant Webb. Grant is a writer and editor for Bisk Education and University Alliance online business degrees covering news on financial aid, Masters of Education and Masters of Elementary Education topics.

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