General Question

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Other than FAFSA/gov't grants/loans, how can I fund my graduate education?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2690 points ) January 4th, 2010

In other words, other than taking out loans and hoping I receive merit-based/need-based funding, where can I find more information on applying for graduate grants – even in the $100 range…?!

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10 Answers

lonelydragon's avatar

Your best bet is to research the schools you’re interested in and look at what they offer in terms of assistantships. A good assistantship will cover tuition and provide a stipend. Assistantships generally come in three forms:

Research assistant (RA): As the name implies, the RA helps a professor with his/her research. Most of the time, only science departments offer RAships. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences primarily do research on their own, so they don’t need RA’s to help them.

Teaching assistant (TA): TA’s come in two varieties. The first type of TA independently teaches a lower level class of his/her own (although most TA’s spend a year training under a professor before assuming complete control of a classroom). The second type of TA doesn’t teach his/her own class. Instead, these TA’s assist the professor of record by proctoring exams, supervising lab sessions, and subbing in for the professor in his/her absence.

Graduate assistant (GA): A GA works in an administrative office. Most grad students hold GAships in their academic departments, but, depending on the school, a GA can also work in student services type positions in the admissions office or the library.

Resident Director (RD): An RD’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to) training RA’s, planning hall socials, and monitoring and disciplining the dorm residents. .

If you have applied to grad school and you didn’t get an assistantship, then don’t go, because an assistantship represents the department’s level of confidence in you. Ideally, the school should be willing to pay all or part of your tuition through an assistantship because they are duly impressed by your talents and want to recruit you as a scholar in training in their department.

With that said, it is possible to obtain other sources of funding, such as scholarships from your home institution, but these will be more limited and harder to get than an assistantship.

I hope I answered your question adequately. Feel free to leave a comment on my user page if you need any more help.

JessicaRay's avatar

I agree with LonelyDragon with all those programs. I would also like to add 3 more ways to save and make money for college.

Orientation Adviser (OA): When your University recruits Freshmen, they hire students to give tours, share tips and advise about the coursework or professions plus help to pick their first semester/quarter courses. My school recruits during the summer, so Grad students can make money and build credibility within their University. Not to mention this new credibility will qualify you for University related Scholarships.

Scholarships: There are so many scholarships out there that it pays to put in a little extra time to get $700 here and $400 there. Universities have their own Scholarships that are usually donated by Alma Maters and local business. Many students are deterred to apply because they don’t want to write a 2 page report so that means applicants have a greater chance of winning! Also I remember there was an online general Scholarship database that complied scholarships for a wide range of differences like being left handed, a non-smoker, single child, and first time college student in a family. Ask your University Librarian for a credible source.

Craigslist: This might not make sense now but there are plenty of people on Craigslist looking for freelance writers and people who need the skill you are schooling for. They will pay you for your time and a you can build your portfolio at the same time!

Best of luck Jonny!

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@lonelydragon – will they offer these WITHOUT my request? Or should I inquire/imply that I am looking for them? In other words, if I get acceptance, will they also state: ”...and you have been selected for…..-ship”?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Depending on the program and the school, establishing residency before starting grad school can save you thousands.

Often the RA, TA positions are offered as part of your financial aid package, based upon your FAFSA. Check with the admissions office.

thriftymaid's avatar

Get a job with a company that pays its employees’ tuition.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some of the people I went to school with would work full time for a year, then take time off to go to scholl, alternating depending on need. I worked and put one husband through school, and when I lost him, I worked full time while my current hubby got his Master’s Degree, and he worked part time.

The military has an educational program that pays for veterans after their service.

torch81's avatar

Depending on the school and the field, you should be able to get a significant amount of your tuition paid for by the school. Others before me have listed some of the ways that schools do this. Do not be afraid to ask. Financial aid really is a “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” enterprise.

If, for some reason, those other things do not work, look into UPS. They have distribution centers all over the country and often take able-bodied students to work odd hours that don’t interfere with course work.

lonelydragon's avatar

@JonnyCeltics Some schools might administer assistantships through the admissions office, but the schools that I know of administer them directly through your academic department. The home page for the department that you’re interested in will probably have separate applications for admission and assistantships.

It also doesn’t hurt to explicitly state in your admissions essay that you’d like an assistantship. Try to connect the assistantship to your career goals. For example, if you’re interested in a library science program, write about how an assistantship in your library would give you valuable hands on experience in the field.

DrMC's avatar

For undergraduate – start with the financial aid office of course. It helps to be an emancipated minor. Whatever it takes do it. Don’t be afraid to go to a cheap college. Work part time and go to school part time. Many of my interests were developed this way. Life took some odd turns.

For graduate school, if you’re paying for it, you’re in the wrong field (which you didn’t mention by the way).

I did undergraduate research, and then worked into MD PHD. My relatives are utterly worthless, my mother payed for a plane ticked once.

It can be done, but it takes big kahunas

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