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How do I afford graduate school?
July 7, 2012 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I notified that I was accepted in my graduate program rather late (As in last week). I've decided to accept, but I have no clue how to go about getting loans. Bonus Q: What're the options for scholarships when it comes to grad school? More inside.

High Five!: I got accepted to my dream program. I was wait listed, so I only found out last week. Because I am a short-sighted goon, I missed the school's FAFSA Deadline by, oh, 2 months. They still award after the deadline, but I may only be eligible for Stafford loans. I've submitted my FAFSA application and other forms required by the school, anyway.

Here's the deal: My undergrad was taken care of by my parents. It's been paid in full. But I have no idea what I'm doing now and I'm behind the curve. If the $20,500 of the Stafford doesn't cover the whole bill, what're my options beyond that?

Also: There seems to be far fewer options for scholarships in the Graduate arena, is there a resource for this? Are there grants I should be applying for?

For what its worth, I currently hold no debt beyond 500 bucks on a credit card and my credit score is excellent (High 700s).
posted by GilloD to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I came to offer what might be an unwelcome suggestion: if your program does not fund you completely, you should consider passing. Contact your department and ask them about teaching assistantships and research assistantships, and see if your tuition is covered. Grad school is not a good thing to get into debt for. If the university isn't going to pay for your way, you should reconsider.
posted by synecdoche at 3:15 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


What's the program?
posted by barnone at 3:19 PM on July 7, 2012


Grad school is not a good thing to get into debt for.

That's the ironclad rule for PhD programs. If this is a doctorate program and they aren't funding you, don't go. It's that simple.

But it's totally normal to take out loans for a professional masters degree. Pretty much no one gets fully funded to get a masters in public administration, social work, or education, to pick some random examples. The key with those kinds of degrees is to be making a clear business decision -- "I am taking out $X in loans, but my salary after graduation will be $Y, so this will pay off in Z years."

To the question at hand, your department and graduate school should be your first go-to for fellowship and scholarship information. If they are unhelpful, treat that as a warning of how they are likely to be to deal with for the next couple of years. Ask about TA/RA opportunities, though you will have to work in exchange for the support.
posted by Forktine at 3:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don't do an MA program unless it is going to increase your earnings more than the loans you have to take out to pay for it.

But call financial aid and look on their website. It is POSSIBLE that you can file for a late Stanford.

I would defer for a year versus taking out private loans.
posted by k8t at 3:29 PM on July 7, 2012


You need to contact the financial advisor for your graduate program as soon as you can. Most programs have someone who knows all about the program-specific scholarships. I've found that if you email/call/go talk to them in person and they like you, there's often some money hiding that you wouldn't otherwise know about. Even if you, ahem, miss a deadline or two, you can sometimes sweetalk them in to finagling you stuff!

Seconding TA opportunities, or perhaps research assistantships. They often come with half tuition for a relatively small amount of work!
posted by itsamermaid at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2012


FYI: Its a professional Master's program. It'll definitely pay for itself over time, I've done all that math.
posted by GilloD at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2012


Beyond Stafford yiu can take out grad plus loans which are federal. Though I'm with everyone else in agreeing you should take out as little as possible and better be sure it'll pay off.
posted by wannabecounselor at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2012


GilloD, if you've done then math then certainly you know whether the program exceeds your $20,500 Stafford offer?

If it does exceed that figure per year, then I strongly recommend talking to the financial office at your institution. Not only will they be able to assist you with PLUS loans, but they'll be able to offer scholarship and fellowship options, especially ones that are specifically or especially for students in your field and/or institution.
posted by asciident at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2012


I was a late accept to my JD, and did not have trouble just filling out my FAFSA and getting my Stafford approved and paid out on time. GradPLUS is almost certainly still going to be available if the Stafford is available. The things that tend not to be available late are the things that you don't get as a graduate student anyway.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:07 PM on July 7, 2012


Do not go into debt for graduate school.

If you are in a position where a Master's degree will help your career, how do you not have enough money to pay for it outright?
posted by twblalock at 5:52 PM on July 8, 2012


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