U.S. graduate programs can carry a hefty price tag. Fortunately, there are many financial aid options available other than loans for those interested in obtaining a master’s degree. Before beginning a search for money, the first step is to compile a financial picture by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA is used by colleges and universities as a starting point to know how much each incoming student is able to pay.
SMART, Free Money First
Grants are one of the best ways to pay for graduate school, often covering a significant portion, if not the entire bill. Every grant has its own set of requirements. The simplest grants to apply for are those sponsored or associated with your school of choice, which automatically considers you for their available grants. If your school is unable to offer you any grant money or if it falls short, you can apply to third-party programs like SMART. SMART is a Department of Defense-sponsored grant to help fund eligible science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students through undergraduate and graduate programs in exchange for an equal number of years in a government lab. Students can find other grants and scholarships through a number of search sites like Fastweb.
Sites such as Fastweb offer prospective students the ability to easily search scholarships that may help cover the cost of their graduate program. Scholarships, like grants, do not need to be paid back and are offered based on a wide variety of criteria, including race/ethnicity, sex, grade point average, cultural heritage, interests and financial need. It is important to begin your scholarship search early, as many scholarships have deadlines and require students to write and submit essays many months in advance of their enrollment in school.
Although the cost of a master’s degree can be expensive, there are many options available to help with the cost. From in-state tuition discounts to free money through grants and scholarships, financial aid comes in all shapes and sizes. Loans are certainly an option, but there are so many other ways to pay for a master’s degree that require only a little extra effort. Graduating from a master’s program with less debt is worth the effort.
Learn more about the UTRGV MSHS online programs.
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