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Graduate school is expensive. While costs vary per school, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the average Master’s degree results in at least $30,000 of debt, while the average Ph.D. results in nearly $90,000 of debt. With such a high price tag, not only will you likely need help paying for grad school, but you need to take a critical look at the type of loans or other help you receive. Graduate students must look for loans with low interest rates and repayment terms that leave them with a balance they can afford to pay once they earn their graduate degree and enter the workforce.
Planning for Graduate School
Before applying to graduate school, you should do some planning. You must make sure graduate school is financially the best choice for the career field you hope to enter and that your finances are ready to take the hit from tuition costs and/or taking on a massive amount of loans.
Testing the Water – Are You Ready for Graduate School? – Before spending money on graduate school, answer these questions to make sure you are prepared to enter graduate school and take on that financial burden.
Applying to Graduate School – Learn the facts about applying to graduate school, from choosing an appropriate program to finding funding for your education, with this handy guide from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.
Financing Graduate School
Once you have determined it is the right time to apply to graduate school, it is time to begin the application process and figure out how to pay for school. Do your research and do not settle on the first loan offered to you. Try to supplement the amount you take out in loans with grants, scholarships or fellowships or by working while you are in graduate school.
Mastering Student Loans for Graduate School – Bankrate provides a brief overview of how to determine how much you need to borrow and where to start when it comes to looking for loans.
Graduate Students and Loans – Over half of all graduate students take out loans. Being aware of the importance of good credit, repayment terms and options for reducing the amount of loans you take out can help you be one of that 56 percent of students who can repay their loans.
The Guide to Graduate School Financial Aid – Veritas Prep’s Guide to Graduate School Financial Aid covers all of the options you have when it comes to financing your graduate school education.
Federal Loan Resources
Many graduate students find that federal loans are their best option. Most federal loans offer low interest rates and manageable repayment terms. However, not all federal loans are created equal. Do your research to understand the different types of loans you are likely to encounter as part of a financial aid package.
Understanding Student Loans – Gain a basic overview of the federal student loan program and the type of loans for which you may qualify.
Student Loans.gov – From understanding the type of loans available to actually applying for loans, everything you need is available through this federal student loans website.
PLUS Loans – Many graduate students qualify for PLUS loans. Learn about this special loan program and determine whether it will meet your financial needs.
Stafford Loans – Stafford Loans are another common loan for graduate students. Learn the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loan and see if you qualify.