Finding Graduate School Scholarships that Fit Your Situation

Students pursuing undergraduate degrees have an easier time finding scholarships than those who are in graduate school. They have parents and guidance counselors to help them – and, in many cases, the schools they attend make merit-based scholarships part of their financial aid packages.

At Addition Financial, our clients who are applying to grad school often ask us:

Where can I find graduate school scholarships?

They want to minimize the amount they borrow to cover their expenses. What we tell them is that there are graduate school scholarships to be had. Here is some information to help you find them.

Ask Your Employer

Many corporations offer a tuition reimbursement program to their employees. If you’re planning to pursue a graduate degree that’s related to your field of employment, it’s worth heading to Human Resources and asking if they can do anything for you.

You’ll need to check your employer’s requirements for assistance. Some companies have a grade requirement, which means that you won’t be eligible for reimbursement until you have your final grade for the class. In that case, you may need to pay out of pocket or use loan money to register. Then, you can use the reimbursement to pay down your loan.

Check with Professional Associations in Your Field

Every profession has associations that encourage networking and work to attract new professionals to the field. In some cases, these associations may offer tuition assistance in the form of scholarships.

For example, grad students who want to study public relations can apply for more than 20 scholarships from the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Not sure which professional association to join? You can search the list of professional associations on the JobStars website. Alternatively, you can go to the chair of your department and ask for recommendations. Talk to someone at the association and get the details of any scholarships they offer. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether to join.

Check with Grad Schools

While undergraduate schools often provide scholarships as part of their financial aid packages, you will need to be more proactive to find scholarships to help you pay for grad school. One way to do that is to speak directly to the school.

Keep in mind, too, that scholarships aren’t the only form of aid available. For example:

  • Some grad schools offer fellowships, which may include a partial or total tuition waiver in exchange for your commitment to do research for the school.
  • Another option is to ask about assistantships, which again may offer a partial or total tuition waiver if you assist the school’s faculty with teaching or research.

Asking about a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship may make a school that appears to be prohibitively expensive more affordable than one with lower tuition. You won’t know unless you take the time to ask.

Financial Planning 101: Crash Course for College Students

Use Scholarship Search Engines

When you searched for undergraduate scholarships, you may have turned to search engines specifically designed to help students locate financial assistance. The same method can work for graduate school scholarships, too. Here are some tools to try.

  1. Unigo
  2. Fastweb
  3. Scholarship America
  4. GoGrad

In addition to general scholarships, you should keep an eye out for niche scholarships that are designated for your area of study or final profession. The competition will likely be less than it would be for scholarships open to any grad student. Even a small award can help you defray some of your costs and reduce the amount you need to borrow.

Consider Going for a PhD

Did you know that, in some fields, you can skip a master’s degree and go right into a PhD program? Some schools consider their master’s programs to be revenue-generating tools and offer very few scholarships as a result. But, if your undergraduate grades are good enough, you can skip the master’s and pursue a PhD instead.

The benefit of this approach is that it opens up new scholarship opportunities. There are more scholarships available for PhD candidates than for master’s candidates.

Apply for a Research Grant

If you’re in a scientific or research field, then you may qualify for government grants to help fund your education. Some grants are like scholarships, while others are more like loans that must be repaid.

Universities are eager for the prestige that important research can bring them. You can ask the schools you’re applying to if any of their students have qualified for grants. Make a list, and then you can research them to see if it’s worth your time to apply.

Graduate school is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you must resign yourself to taking out expensive student loans to pay for all of it. Researching and apply for scholarships using the tips we’ve provided here can help to reduce your student loans.

To learn about Addition Financial’s versatile student loan program, please click here.


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