What Kind of Financial Aid Is Available for Graduate School?

There is financial aid available to undergraduate students, but is there a form of graduate financial aid? Earning a graduate degree can be more than just a time-consuming venture, it can also be an expensive one. While graduate degrees will cost money out-of-pocket, the right degrees will offer a return on investment shortly after they are earned. If you are not in a financial position where you can afford to pay for-profit or non-profit tuition fees in full as you attend school, you may be interested in learning about financial aid options exist for students earning an advanced degree. Here is your guide to understanding what types of aid may be available to you. 

Types of Federal Financial Aid That is Available for Graduate Students

Based on the standards set by the U.S. Department of Education, a graduate student is defined as an independent student. This means that you will be eligible for aid limits for independent students and will not be required to provide any information on your parents when filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. While the amount of aid that is available to you as a graduate student is not as substantial as the aid you will receive as an undergraduate student, there are still options if you do not have the financial means. Here are some of the types of the aid you may qualify for:

* The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan

This is a federal student loan program where you can apply for up to $20,500 per year to cover the costs associated with attending a graduate program. You may qualify for a Direct PLUS loan if you need to go above the unsubsidized limits, but interest rates are higher for this PLUS loans. Loans will be disbursed once you apply through the school.

* Federal Perkins Loan

The Perkins loan is only available at specific schools. You should check to see if the graduate school you plan on attending offers this loan program. If it is available, you can borrow up to $8000 per year based on your need. This can help you cover tuition, books, and even living expenses.

* Federal Work-Study

If you have a financial need as a graduate student, you may be able to qualify for work study. This program will connect you with a part-time position so that you can earn money as you study. This is great if you do not want to rack up a lot of loans to earn an advanced degree. Keep in mind that not all institutions offer this program.

* TEACH Grant

If your goal is to earn a graduate degree in education, the TEACH grant provides you with $4000 a year to complete your work. This grant will turn into a loan if you do not meet the requirements following graduation, but it is a good opportunity for the right candidate.

As you can see, there are financial aid options. While there are not many grants and very few scholarship opportunities for grad students, there are ways to fund your degree if you cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars on your current salary. Remember that your degree will raise your earning potential and qualify you for promotions, and be smart when applying for graduate financial aid loans.

For more information, check out the “Top 25 College Scholarships for 2013“.