If you’ve been thinking about getting your master’s degree then you know just how expensive it can be. You have to wonder if it is really worth all the money and if it will pay for itself in the long run. Only time will tell, but there are ways to help you pay the big price tag. So, if you’re wondering how to afford a master’s degree read on.
How to Afford a Master’s Degree
Before you start applying to grad schools, take a moment to discover a few ways that will make going easier to afford.
I went myself, so I know it can be a little overwhelming when it comes to cost.
These tips should help.
1. Apply for Scholarships
There are scholarships out there that are offered for everything from being an outstanding student to being a single parent.
There are even minority scholarships offered.
So start researching and see what you can find.
Look for state and federal scholarships as well.
And don’t forget the school itself and any club or activity you might be involved in.
2. Apply for Financial Aid
This is the money you are given by the state, the federal government, or your university in order to pay for school.
Don’t be afraid to apply even if you think that your grades aren’t good enough or your income is too high.
You have to apply in order to find out the answer.
Fill out the required forms and even set up an appointment with a financial aid counselor so they can help you through the process of applying for this money.
Your first step is to fill out the FAFSA.
3. Check to See if Your Employer Will Pay for Your Degree
Many employers are willing to pay for their staff members to upgrade their education by paying for classes, books, and even tuition.
If you don’t know if your employer will do this then ask them.
Don’t just assume that they won’t, because you will be missing out if they do.
Typically if they do, you will need to keep a higher grade point average for them to pay.
4. Look Into Grants and Scholarships
This is money that is given to you usually in exchange for doing something like maintaining a certain grade average.
Some of these programs have certain requirements so make sure that you look into them in order to find out what they are before you apply.
Keep in mind that the Pell Grant is not available to graduate students, but there are other options out there for you.
5. Take Out Federal Loans – But Only What You Need
This is money that you have to pay back, so you don’t want to take out more than what you need.
You can also try to get your loans forgiven so that you don’t have to pay them back if you work in certain professions such as teaching or nursing.
Just use this money for school tuition and don’t get extra for a vacation or new furniture. I know people who did that.
Student loans should be your last option.
6. Get a Part-Time Job
Not only will this help save money for your tuition, but it can also help with books, supplies, and spending money on the side.
Just make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your schooling too much because this can really hurt your grades later on.
7. Apply for an Assistantship
I know that assistantships are limited, but do everything you can to get one.
This will pay for all of your tuition and make the cost of going to graduate school very affordable.
I had one, and it covered all my expenses.
It was a teaching assistantship, so I taught two classes a semester. I was paid $2,600 a month for those two classes.
It is the best way to get your master’s if you can.
8. Live at Home While Going to School
Living at home with your parents while going to school is cheaper than getting an apartment or dorm room.
You will also avoid being out on your own which means less food and entertainment expenses as well as not having the stress of paying bills each month and making grocery shopping runs every week.
I know as a graduate student this may not be your favorite option, but if you’re single and your school is near your folk’s house, you should consider it.
9. Check for Fellowships
Colleges offer all different kinds of fellowships.
The great thing is this is free money. You don’t have to pay it back and you don’t even have to do anything to get it.
I was offered a recruitment fellowship when I went to graduate school.
It was for $5,000 dollars.
That was money I could use in any way I wanted.
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10. Make Sure Your Degree Makes Sense
Before getting your degree make sure that it is something that you are going to use and apply.
Getting a master’s in Latin literature or 18th-century French poetry is going to have no real use on the job market, so make sure that your degree can be applied directly to what you want to do with your life.
I know someone who was getting their Ph.D. in Middle Ages literature.
While I’m sure it was very interesting, the chances of him getting a job were slim.
Yes, he might be able to find a job teaching college, but even that wouldn’t be easy.
He was following his passion which I respect, but he was going to have a really hard time using his degree in the real world.
11. Look for a One-Year Program
Some schools offer a combined undergrad/graduate degree that ends up being a one-year program for your master’s.
This can be a great option to save money.
12. Save Up Cash Before Going Back to School
Cut out unnecessary expenses and save this money to use to pay for grad school.
You can sacrifice a bit now to live your dream later.
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To Sum it All Up:
Graduate school can be a great thing and help you get ahead or it can just be a way to spend a lot of money for no good reason. Be sure it makes sense to go before you go. Once you decide it is worthwhile for you, then be sure to check out scholarship options, grants, and assistantships to save as much money as possible.