Thinking about graduate school? Graduate school can help you build skills, earn credentials, and gain an advantage in the job market, but financing graduate school has some different considerations than financing undergraduate education.
Paying for Graduate School
Many of the grants that are available to undergraduate students are not available to graduate students. So, how do graduate students finance their degree?
In addition to saving for graduate school, which can reduce student loan borrowing, graduate students often rely on fellowships, assistantships, and loans. Fellowships and assistantships are often awarded by the graduate school or academic program, not through the financial aid process.
Fellowships help students pay for school in exchange for field-related research or other work. Fellowships can be school-based and administered by an academic department, federally funded, or offered by another institution. Many schools provide a graduate school fellowship database. Check with your school to find out what is available. Carefully review eligibility conditions, as many fellowship applications require support from your undergraduate institution.
These online search sites provide fellowship and scholarship listings for graduate students:
- FREIDA Online® – American Medical Association fellowship and residency program information
- The National Science Foundation
- Prestigious scholarships and fellowships listing on Finaid.org
Assistantships are usually provided to graduate students through part-time academic employment. Students are typically paid a small stipend and are provided a tuition waiver in exchange for work.
Many graduate students also work full time. Some employers offer education benefits such as tuition reimbursement.
Paying for Medical School
Download Paying for Medical School — FAME-Related Programs to learn about FAME programs that can help with the cost of medical school.
While many scholarships are reserved for undergraduate studies, there are scholarships for graduate students. Visit FAME’s scholarship search page for a Maine-based scholarship search and links to national scholarship searches.
Financial Aid, Loans, and Work-Study
The types of financial aid that may be awarded through the financial aid process include federal student loans and work-study.
Graduate students often finance their education by borrowing federal loans such as Federal Direct Loans, Federal Direct PLUS and/or private loans.
This is a need-based, federally funded employment program that you could be considered for as part of your FAFSA application. Funding is limited so not all students are awarded federal work-study funds.
Other Sources of Financial Aid
In addition to school financial aid programs,Maine grants and loan programsoffer financial aid programs that help future educators, doctors, dentists, and lawyers cover graduate school expenses.
Applying for Financial Aid
The financial aid application process for graduate students is similar to the process for undergraduate students, with a few notable differences.
Graduate students are considered independent for the purposes of filing the FAFSA; therefore, parent information is not required on the FAFSA. However, some schools may still ask you to supply them with your parents’ financial resources. Married graduate students will be asked to include their spouse’s information.
Explore Employer Education Benefits
One way to help finance your graduate education is with the help of your employer, especially if your degree program will help advance your career. Review this list of employers who provide tuition assistance, and if your employer isn’t on the list, ask if they can help!
No matter where you are in life, it’s never too early or too late to establish sound money management practices. Learn more about setting financial goals, creating a budget, saving and investing, and credit-related topics.
Managing Your Student Loans
If you borrowed to complete your undergraduate degree, you may have questions about how to manage your student loans while you are in graduate school.