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Graduate & Professional School Online Guide

Financial Aid

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Financial Aid for Graduate/Professional School

Cost Factors

• It is difficult to estimate cost due to the variance of many factors, e.g., whether
you attend out-of-state school; where you live (residence hall, apartment, house);
field in which you specialize; cost of living in particular region, etc.
• Get as much information as possible about living options and expenses to better estimate cost.
• Majority of graduate students receive at least some financial support, if not when they first enter, then later on. See types listed below.
• Unlike undergraduate school aid, graduate support is more often based on merit than need.

Sources for Financial Support


A. Fellowships are an outright grant of money, called a stipend, for which you are not required to perform any work or service. This is definitely the way to go! The basis of the award is your academic potential, not your financial need. The amount varies from several hundred to several thousand dollars, most of which is tax free. Some awards are only for one year, others for several years. Many carry tuition waivers.

Fellowship sources include:
• Institutional – awarded by universities.
• Government - a number of different kinds of fellowships, e.g., National Science Foundation (NSF), National Defense Education Act (NDEA).
• Private Grants
Sponsored by private foundations, organizations, businesses and industries. Some are awarded in specific areas to specific types of students; others are open to anyone pursuing a graduate degree. Among these are a number of well-known “prestige” awards, e.g. Rhodes, Fullbright, Woodrow Wilson, Danforth. Competition for these is very keen- top students from around the country apply.

B. Assistantships are financial assistance provided by a university in return for service or work you perform for the school or department. The amount varies. It may provide a full or partial tuition waiver, it may provide a sum of money each month; some provide both. There are advantages and disadvantages: advantage - you receive not only money but also experience; disadvantage - some universities require graduate assistants to take a reduced course load, thus prolonging your degree.

Go to the following websites for more financial aid information:

Assistantships continued…
Teaching Assistantships. You must provide the university with a specified amount of part-time undergraduate teaching while you attend school. Advanced students may teach a lab, a discussion section of a course, or an elementary course in their field. Less advanced students may grade papers, proctor exams, etc. TA’s can be a valuable experience if you plan a career in college teaching.
Research Assistantships. Similar to TA except student does research assignments under supervision of graduate faculty members. Sometimes work done on research assistantship can be used to partially meet requirements in your degree program.

C. Administrative Internship. Similar to an assistantship with regard to terms of payment. You are assigned to work in an administrative office on campus. This is a good opportunity for those planning a career in educational administration.

D. Residence Hall, Student Personnel, and Counseling Assistantships
1. These may have various names at different schools.
2. Frequently are given to students in fields like psychology, counseling, student personnel, and social work.
3. Usually involves some combination of administrative work and counseling or advising students.
4. Residence Hall assistantships frequently involve living in an undergraduate hall. Often provide housing, tuition waiver, and/or salary.

E. Other Sources
1. GI Bill - veterans can get assistance for graduate as well as undergraduate school.
2. Loans - can be applied for through banks, government agencies, and in some cases, special loan funds at universities.
3. Military - can get support for graduate or professional education in exchange for future military service.
4. Employment - difficult to manage both full-time work and full-time graduate study; may be wise to consider doing one or the other part-time, even if this means taking a longer time to earn your degree.

Remember, if you really need to and want to go to graduate school,
funding IS available.

How to Apply for Financial Aid
A. Apply directly to the university for forms of aid administered by individual universities, for many government grants and fellowships, and for all assistantships/internships.

  1. Schools have various procedures for applying. These include: one form to apply for all aid; separate forms for each type of aid; a national form from the Graduate & Professional School Financial Aid Service (GAPSFAS).
2. You must determine requirements of schools you are applying to, either from catalogs or admissions officers.
3. When applying to school, indicate that you want aid applications.
B. For national and prestigious fellowships (Churchill, Rhodes, Fulbright, etc.), you apply directly to the committee or group that administers the grant.
  1. Check for deadlines and allow time to complete lengthy application materials.
2. Information about these scholarships can be obtained from academic departments.
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