The thought of financing graduate school immediately after your graduation as an undergraduate can seem unnerving, to say the least, but it’s crucial to know that it is possible, and there are ways it can be done without being consumed by student debt.
There are a few things to remember when considering this: 1) you are your own worst enemy, and 2) you are your own biggest advocate. In short, if you tell yourself you won’t be able to finance graduate school or that you aren’t smart enough, then your chances are slim. On the other hand, if you say, “Yes, I can do this!,” you’re on the right track to saving money for and earning your graduate degree.
Don’t be disheartened by your own negative thoughts, use the resources around you, and work hard. You can accomplish whatever it is you set your mind to.
Here are a few things you can do now to start preparing for graduate school (the holiday season is the perfect time to start!):
1. File for the the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Why not? It’s a free student application that enables you to receive financial aid, apply for scholarships, loans and grants. The application is simple and there are many online resources available to you.
Even if you are just considering the application, the FAFSA website has calculators at your disposal in order to evaluate the eligibility you have for loans, grants and scholarships. These resources will allow to approximate the appropriation of funds you will need in order to pay for graduate school.
2. Use the resources your institution provides you -- make friends with the financial aid staff!
Becoming friends with your financial aid office staff at college can benefit you in so many ways. They can help connect you with scholarships that may be available to you right now -- while you are still an undergrad -- or help you look for other scholarships on the horizon.
Financial aid staff have seen students go through the same issues you face and have resources and strategies to help you along the way. They may even be able to provide a letter or two of recommendation for your scholarship or future job applications.
3. Work during your school breaks (every little bit helps!)
Although many of of you may want to rest during breaks, there are things you can do to start preparing and saving for graduate school. Here are a few:
- Some restaurants hire more during the holiday and summer seasons because it is a busier time of year. Meaning, they are more inclined to accept short-term employees.
Oftentimes, parents are looking for childcare providers so they can catch a movie or go to that dinner party they haven’t been able to go to in four years because of their three children. Post a flyer up in your neighborhood, parish, or make some phone calls to family friends! Someone is bound to need a childcare provider.
Your institution is also a good place to look for jobs. Another question you can ask your financial aid friend is this, “Are there any on-campus jobs available to students during the summer?” It is likely they will have some openings!
Whether it’s working in a fast food restaurant, childcare, lifeguarding at local or pool, or an on-campus job there are lots of ways to start saving money during summer or on winter break! Every penny you make counts. Start saving now. It’s the best time.
4. Apply for grants and scholarships
Don’t sell yourself short. There are many scholarships out there. Begin your research and outline the ones you plan to apply to.
One key thing to remember when researching scholarships: Don't fall for the common scholarship stereotypes. There are actually scholarships available that cater to those who have particular interests or creativity – like crafting or even gaming. Some scholarships may ask only for creativity: they may ask you to describe what kind of ice cream you would be and why, or to create a silly video about their product. There are many doors to open for money and the financial aid office has the keys to help you.
5. Look for other ways to finance Graduate School – via this ebook!
Financing Graduate School is such a huge topic that I couldn’t cover it all in this little blog – so we pulled together the experts in the field and wrote this FREE ebook so all the information you need is in one place.
Download this eBook for information on:
- Who to talk to about financial aid
- How to make the most of federal aid
- Where to begin with student loans
*Remember: There is money out there for those who are resourceful enough to find it.
Don’t get discouraged by the high cost of education - there are opportunities to make money by working or getting a solid job - but there are also a plethora of scholarship opportunities open to you.
Strive to use your time, tools, resources available in college that will help you attain your financial and educational goals.