Financial aid in graduate school doesn’t work quite the same way as financial aid for undergraduate degrees. There are far fewer scholarships available in graduate school, and they are much more difficult to get. So, how does financial aid work in graduate school?
Most “free” money in graduate school comes from graduate assistantships where you are working for the school or your department. This is still not free, but sometimes it comes in conjunction with a scholarship that will help pay for more of your schooling.
Stick with Your Original Lender
If you can, stick with your original lender. It’s just easier. They already have all your information and you can easily consolidate all your loans when the time finally comes to repay. You might want to keep one set of loans with a different lender. Even if the amount is small, this will give you the option to consolidate again later.
Talk to Your Employer
The best way to finance your graduate school degree is to talk to your employer. More and more employers are becoming willing to pay for their employees to go back to school. If you can get your employer to pay for your degree, then you will get a raise and a free degree simply by promising to stay with your company a few more years.
When you are looking for financial aid options, start early. You will have more opportunities and a better chance of finding a good deal if you start the process early. When you have the time to shop around, compare prices, and maybe even start a small price war, you will certainly benefit from the results.
When you are shopping around, be sure you keep notes on everything you learn. If possible, get the information in writing from the companies with whom you will be working. Your detailed notes will come in handy later if they try to change the rules on you or if you need to find another loan later.