There are several different ways to fund your graduate study.
Many students receive financial aid to partially or fully fund their graduate education. Your institution may have a mix of scholarships, grants, loans, assistantships, fellowships and general employment opportunities.
The first step to seeking and receiving any financial aid is to carefully review the financial aid web pages of any institution where you are applying for graduate admission. Note financial aid deadlines and requirements. Some may only require you to complete the FAFSA while others require supplemental materials and information. Your eligibility for financial aid will be determined by your school once all the application information has been received and reviewed.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to apply for all federal financial aid (grants, work-study, and loans). In most cases it is also required to secure institutional or state financial aid as well. Note that you can complete the FAFSA on January 1 of the year you plan to enroll, but no sooner. An important component of completing the FAFSA is timely filing of your previous year’s taxes.
Types of Financial Aid
These are typically work-based aid offered to perform research, teaching assistant positions, and administrative jobs. Many offer full or partial tuition remission and/or a salary. Some are awarded through your department as part of your admission package, while others can be found and applied for on the school’s employment website or directly through other departments in which you may have experience. Be sure to ask about assistantships when you request your application packet, as many positions have application deadlines that are earlier than your program’s application for admission.
Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships
This type of aid does not require paying money back. Fellowships are very competitive and have early deadlines, so research for these should begin as soon as you have made a decision to apply to graduate school. Many grants and scholarships can be found and applied for through your department, others may be found through the graduate school admissions office, and still others come from private and nationally-funded sources.
Use web-based public and private scholarship directories to find options. Meet with advisors in the Fellowships Office in the CTLR for additional opportunities.
Federal and Private Loans
Loans are borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loan programs allow graduate students to borrow money to cover their education expenses. Parents may also borrow to pay education expenses for dependent students. Generally, loan amounts depend on the student’s year in school, cost of attendance, and the amount of other aid received. Federal loans are typically awarded on a need-based system by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Look carefully at institutional loan programs that are available, both the federal loans offered as part of your financial aid package as well as any recommended sources for low interest private loans. These loans can be an important resource if used wisely. Many of the links below provide detailed information about educational loans.
Additional Sources of Financial Aid Information
- Chegg Scholarships
Personalized matches with over a billion dollars in scholarship awards. Selection of African American scholarships in particular is growing each day and is open to high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid, including information on a variety of financial aid sources.
- Fastweb’s Scholarship Search
A scholarship database and website.
- UCLA Grapes Database
A large listing of fellowships, scholarships, and grants.
- Michigan State University Library
This contains a comprehensive database of Grants for Individuals. It includes a section on listings for Affinity Groups.
Provides information for international students who are thinking about pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or professional education in the United States.
- U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid
A comprehensive source of free information about how to fund higher education.