Financial Aid Tips for Graduate School

Quick guide to financial aid search terms

The benefits of attending graduate school are endless, but it’s understandable that the monetary investment can cause some hesitation. The good news is that there are plenty of financial aid resources available! This blog will give you the guidance you need to begin your search.

What’s my first step?

FAFSA® comes first. Yes, it’s for grad school, too! Colleges use FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and school-sponsored financial aid, so if you are hoping for any government or school financial aid for graduate school, you must fill out the FAFSA® form. Here is the information you will need in order to complete the FAFSA® form.

When should I begin my search for financial aid?

According to WPI’s Career Development Center, “When it comes to financing graduate school, it’s important for you to start searching early and pay attention to deadlines, especially since deadlines for financial aid, fellowships, scholarships, and research and teaching assistantships aren’t always the same as those for the admissions applications for graduate programs.” To qualify for a federal student loan, graduate students must be enrolled in 4 credits for a semester.  This is considered part-time (or half-time).

Where should I begin my search?

The web is the first step, but your search terms will depend on your circumstances (click on the image at the top of this blog for ideas). For example, if you are a U.S. military veteran, you may be eligible for education benefits under the GI Bill® and other education benefits. It also helps to know what your enrollment status will be (full-time or part-time, online or on campus)—this can help you narrow your search. During your search, be sure to read all the qualifications and requirements carefully, verify all components required, and review the timeline to complete the application submission process.

Can I really pursue my master’s degree without taking out loans?

There is an abundance of opportunities to off-set (or completely cover) the cost of graduate school without taking out student loans. A good starting point is to contact your Human Resources department to determine if your employer offers tuition reimbursement. You may be surprised! There are also many scholarships and grants available to working professionals who are part-time graduate students (e.g., WPI’s Gateway Scholarship). And although every funding source has its requirements, fellowships and assistantships (and some scholarships and grants) frequently target the full-time graduate student interested in pursuing specific research and/or the ongoing pursuit of a specific program of study.

To make things easier, WPI Graduate Studies has compiled a list of links and information you can use explore your financial aid options. Take advantage of this resource, and you could be ready to enroll in graduate school sooner than you thought possible!