Many adults need a post-graduate degree to advance in their careers or simply set themselves apart from other job-seekers. A Master’s degree is becoming a must for most professionals. However, there is a startling truth to graduate schools. They do not give out free money, especially compared with undergraduate scholarships and grants. Most of the time, adults must take out hefty loans to finance graduate school.
Find Graduate Student Financial Aid with College Grant Money
It is imperative for prospective graduate students to find financial aid to fund their studies. Students should always start with free money for college in the form of grants and scholarships. The first tip is to start by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see what a student can receive in federal grants and loans.
Once the student receives the financial aid award letter from each college, he or she should take a close look at these options:
Is there a state or federal grant listed? Keep in mind that less than four percent of graduate students actually receive either federal or state grants.
Does the individual school offer the student a scholarship like Nancy Etz? Note that less than 20 percent of grad students receive such scholarships.
Basically, to receive a “yes” to both of the above questions, the student must prepare ahead of time. How? Prospective grad students must try to appear as low income on paper as possible. Students can find legal tax loopholes to make them appear poorer on their income tax returns than they actually are to both the federal and state governments.
Students who receive scholarships from colleges are highly competitive. Grad students should always apply to a host of competing schools. Upon receiving award letters, this now gives the student the chance to compare each school’s award and ask for more money. For example, if a student gains acceptance and is given an excellent financial aid package from school A, the most prestigious of all the schools he or she applied, that gives him or her leverage with the other schools. The student can ask the other schools to match or do better than school A’s financial aid package. This puts the student in an ideal position for subsidizing his or her postgraduate education.
Another tip is to call the colleges or look online to see if they offer Dean’s Scholarships every semester to their graduate students. Many colleges do so for high achieving students with semester GPAs over 3.5. Students apply at the very beginning of each semester. Check with each college for specifics.
College Financial Planning and Free Money for College Through the Workplace
Prospective graduate students should also look to their workplaces. Despite a deep recession, many workplaces still offer tuition reimbursement. The best place to start is with the human resources department to see how much a company will pay toward tuition.
The majority of postgraduate students work full-time or part-time. Thus, they do not cut their income while attending school. Some students also work at the college, which results in free tuition. This is a great idea to go to school for free, but often the jobs are hard to come by and very low paying.
To find the best graduate financial aid, students must plan ahead and figure out the best place to find money. Looking to the colleges themselves, and to the workplace, are often the best places to start.