Financial Help Opportunities for Graduate School Students
Graduate students can benefit from federal funding programs that provide financial assistance to those in need. The United States Department of Education supports a Federal Student Aid branch that focuses specifically on providing financial assistance to students who have difficulties funding their higher education. For this reason, there are several financial assistance programs out there that graduate students can apply for to get the necessary funding.
Each university or college that accepts graduate school students has its own criteria of qualifying applicants for financial assistance programs. A graduate student who wants to apply for financial aid should confirm the type of program that his or her university or college offers. Here is a look at some of the common financial assistance programs that students can benefit from.
There are several types of grants that for which a graduate student can apply. One good thing about grant programs is that they offer free money and the recipient does not have to worry about repaying any of it back. Examples of grants include fellowships, monetary awards, scholarships and travel grants. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) is a grant whose purpose is to facilitate more enrollments in teaching programs. People who apply for this grant program and become recipients can get assistance of up to $4,000 yearly. In order to be offered the TEACH grant, a graduate student should be teaching, or plan to be teaching, in a high-demand field, and be teaching students in low-income areas. Additionally, the individual should have completed four or more academic years of teaching within eight years of graduating.
As mentioned earlier, a fellowship is another type of grant. Fellowship assistance can be offered in two ways. One way is through the career program for which the student is applying, or is already taking. The other way is through the graduate school into which the student has been enrolled. In some cases, the graduate student will be automatically considered for a fellowship after getting admission into a particular program. However, if a student wants to obtain the graduate school fellowship benefits, then he or she has to be enrolled into a program before being considered for the fellowship. Assistance provided through fellowship programs can cover tuition scholarships, monthly stipends and medical insurance supplements.
Among the many ways of funding graduate school education, assistantship programs are the most popular. Under an assistantship program, the student is offered a role in professional teaching, administration or research, and in turn, the program pays the graduate student’s tuition. It is like a part-time work arrangement where the student works for the university as he or she also gains professional experience. The financial benefits that graduate student receive include tuition waivers, monthly stipends and medical insurance. A graduate student may be automatically considered for assistantship after admission, or in some cases, the university may require formal applications in order to put the student in the program.
This is also a form of financial aid which helps graduate and undergraduate students meet higher education fees. The first condition that a graduate student must do in order to be eligible for work-study awards is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. It is from this form that the financial assistance administrators will check if the student is interested in work-study employment. The information on FAFSA forms will also be used to determine the neediness of the student and to qualify him or her for the work-study awards. Students who have previously benefited from work-study awards can get the benefits continuously, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements, and continue to renew their FAFSA each year.
The Division of Financial Aid also issues student loans to qualified graduate students so that they can pursue further education. Unlike the other options mentioned above, loans have to be repaid once the students complete their education. Such types of loans include direct unsubsidized loans and direct PLUS loans. Under the direct unsubsidized loans, graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per academic year. The direct PLUS loans are for students who need more than the maximum limits set for the direct unsubsidized loans. Additionally, there is the Federal Perkins Loan which is a school-based loan program that students with special financial needs can utilize to finance their education. A student can receive up to $8,000 worth of loan money under the Federal Perkins Loan program. The amount of the loan given is dependent on the level of financial need demonstrated by the applying student and his or her family.