As with your undergraduate career, there are a lot of financial obligations to consider in your graduate career – tuition, housing, books, and beyond. There are three primary sources of outside aid that assist graduate students: federal, institutional, and private.

Federal Aid

Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loans – Federal student loans which accrue interest while you are in school. They are available to graduate students at fixed interest rates with yearly and lifetime limits. Starting July 1, 2012, subsidized federal loans, in which the federal government pays the interest while a borrower is in school, will no longer be available to graduate students.

Graduate PLUS Loans for Students and Parents – Federal loans granted at fixed interest rates with annual and lifetime limits. Graduate students and parents without an adverse credit background may be eligible. There is no grace period on PLUS loans after you leave school, which means you will begin paying off your loan right after you leave school. To apply you must complete a Direct PLUS Loan Application in addition to the FAFSA.

Work Study - Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Work study programs vary from school to school, so be sure to contact the schools you are applying to for more information.

More federal aid information is available at: (

For all federal aid you will need to fill out the FAFSA available at: (

Institutional Aid

Assistantships – Graduate Assistantships (GA) and Teaching Assistants (TA) are forms of student employment. Graduate students with assistantships may work in a university department or with faculty members in the classroom. Payment may range from tuition waivers (covering some or all of your tuition) to yearly stipends. Assistantships and payment vary greatly from school to school, so be sure to contact the institutions you are applying to for more information.

Payment Plans – Institutions may offer graduate students an opportunity to pay for their education as they attend via a tuition payment plan.

Private Aid

Loans – There are several companies that offer private loans to graduate students. However, keep in mind that they often have higher interest rates than federal loans and no grace period. As a general rule, students should only obtain private educational loans if they have maxed out their federal loan limits.

Scholarships – There may be many scholarship options for graduate students – it’s just a matter of doing your research! There are scholarships related to specific careers, professional organizations, research areas, and more.


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