How to Pay for Graduate School

| Staff

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For those considering pursuing higher education goals, how to pay for graduate school is foremost in their minds.

Graduate school is an excellent post-Bachelor’s degree alternative for those seeking more detailed studies in a particular field or following career paths that require a Master’s or Doctor of Philosophy degree, like law, medicine, dentistry, psychology, and any number of research and college-level teaching positions. Others may seek an MBA in order to advance their business career.

The main benefits of a graduate degree include further preparation for advancing one’s career, in-depth research within a specific field, and career advancement. Specific requirements vary by program, but those wishing to pursue graduate studies will need to maintain a certain GPA throughout their college career, and meet the required test scores on a test like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), or the the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Some of the most popular graduate degrees include the Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), the Juris Doctor (JD) awarded for successful completion of law school, and the Doctor of Medicine (MD).

What Does It Cost to Attend Grad School?

There are a number of expenses to consider when contemplating graduate school, including tuition, the cost of books and other learning materials, and general expenses associated with the living expenses, like rent, food, clothes, and health care. The latter will vary by state and whether the school is located in a city or a small town. For comparison, we consider three prominent schools and degree programs:

• At Stanford University, one of the top MBA programs in the country, students should expect to pay $90,000 per year for tuition, books, supplies, health insurance, and living expenses.
• Johns Hopkins University is the preeminent medical school in the country, with an annual attendance cost of about $70,000.
• Yale University, one of the best law schools in the country, will run students around $75,000 each year.

How to Ease the Financial Burden of Graduate School

There are a number of ways to ease the financial burden of graduate school:

• Financial aid is available through the college, university, or department in question. Applications can typically be obtained from the Financial Aid Office, and potential graduate students can often apply concurrently with their application to attend graduate school, depending on the program. Students should file their FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and keep in mind that such aid is typically needs based.

• Scholarships may be available through the school or private institutions or donors. Be sure to check with your Financial Aid Office and with fellow students, who are often quite knowledgeable about available scholarships and their specific requirements as scholarships may be limited to applicants meeting a narrow range of requirements.

• Teaching and research assistantships are a great way to get first-hand experience while also paying for graduate school. Many schools offer assistantships based on progress in the program so it may be hard to score one as a first year student. However, in many cases a tuition waiver is included with the paid assistantship.

• Student loans like Perkins or Stafford loans are often requested by students to cover some or all of the cost of attending graduate school. Beware that these must be paid back shortly after graduation.

When considering how to pay for graduate school, the best tactic is to keep your options open and apply for as many opportunities as possible in order to ensure your continued academic success.

Related Article: Graduate School FAQs

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