Before you even think about taking a student loan, make sure you have exhausted the other ways of financing your higher education goals. If you implement smart financial strategies and pursue outside sources of funding, you can make your education and career dreams come true without necessarily taking on a large amount of student loan debt.
- Save money first: If you currently have a good job, consider working for a few more years to save money for tuition. You can also evaluate your budget to cut back on expenses and dedicate more money to your savings account.
- Employers: Your employer may be willing to help fund your graduate degree if it’s relevant to your job or future position. More employers are offering tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package.
- Scholarships and grants: Scholarships and grants are essentially free money that can be used toward associated education costs. Some are very competitive, but you’d be surprised at how many don’t receive any applications at all. Use online search engines like Scholarship Monkey and your school’s financial aid office to locate additional opportunities.
- Fellowships: Your program likely has fellowships up for grabs. These are typically stipends awarded to students with promising potential based on their past achievements. Fellowships can range anywhere from $500 to the full cost of tuition.
- Consider going abroad: Universities are cheaper almost everywhere else in the world, but be aware that if you leave the U.S., you might not qualify for federal aid. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of relocating overseas and explore job prospects ahead of time if you are planning on supporting yourself while abroad.
- Teaching assistantship: Depending on your financial need, you might be able to score a teaching assistantship that may include teaching a limited number of undergraduate classes, grading papers, or overseeing other administrative tasks. Depending on the school, you may be paid directly, or it could be applied straight toward your tuition.
A big part of deciding whether or not to take out graduate student loans is figuring out how much debt you’d accrue. Your potential student loan debt will largely depend on the type of degree you’re pursuing. Below you’ll find the average student loan debt for graduate school graduates by degree.
Your debt also depends on the type of school you attend. The cost varies widely depending on whether you choose to attend a public, nonprofit, or private university, as does the availability of scholarships and financial aid that might ease your debt burden. In most cases, students from private for-profit colleges graduate with the most debt.
What is the ROI on graduate school degrees?
Cost is only one best online payday loans Merced side of the equation. You also have to consider the increase in your future earnings, or the return you’ll get from your degree. As you saw above, medical students graduate with the most debt. However, they also often have the highest salaries when compared to other professions, so they’re able to pay off that debt more quickly and earn more money in the long-run.
1. Determine your overall loan burden
The cost of attendance varies by school and program, so you need a firm understanding of exactly what your costs are going to be, including any fees and living costs. Often, the financial aid office at the school you’re applying to can help you estimate what your actual costs will look like. Subtract any secured financial assistance and any income you may be expecting from employment while you’re in school to estimate how much you’ll need in student loans.