financial aid for graduate school

You’ve weighed the options and finally made the decision to head back to school for your master’s degree, and if you’re like most students, the next thought that immediately comes to mind is - how am I going to pay for this?

Traditionally, many students believe that financial aid for graduate school is relatively nonexistent, and if you’re already experiencing debt from your undergraduate degree, the idea of accruing even more educational debt can be incredibly daunting. 

Contrary to what you may have heard about MBA financial aid, there are many opportunities that will make obtaining your graduate degree more affordable than you thought possible.

Tuition Reimbursement

Depending on your industry and position, your employer may be an incredible source of financial aid.  Many students aren’t even aware that some companies offer to support and invest in their employees for professional development. These agreements traditionally include an application and approval process that ultimately results in your company reimbursing you for part or all of your education-related expenses.

Often there may be reciprocal commitments involved in accepting this aid. For example, your company may require that you remain employed with them for a minimum amount of time after receiving the reimbursement benefit. But if you’re already looking for upward mobility within a company that you’re happy with, these reciprocal agreements aren’t cumbersome at all.

Check with your HR department to see if your company offers any financial aid-related education benefits.

Corporate Partnerships

If your employer does not offer tuition reimbursement benefits directly, they may be part of a corporate partnership program with a particular college or university.  These partnerships often provide flat tuition discounts at a higher education institution for students who are employed at the partner company. 

In these kinds of partnerships, there may even be student cohorts that are specific to your company and position, which means you could be in classes with peers who are aspiring to similar career goals.  The opportunity to study in these cohort models widens your professional network and can help tailor class content to your particular industry as opposed to the application of general concepts.

Veteran Benefits and Discounts

If you’ve served in the military, you are probably already aware of the educational benefits afforded to you by the federal government.  If you haven’t already exhausted these benefits for your undergraduate degree, it is important to investigate how they will translate into your financial aid for graduate school.

In addition to your standard benefits, there are also many institutions that offer a flat discount for veterans.  This percentage is usually taken from the total tuition amount and is awarded in addition to any federal benefits available to you. 

Check in with both your local veteran resources office and the institution you’re interested in attending to determine what financial aid options are available to you as a veteran.

Stafford Loans

In addition to grant and scholarship aid that may be available to you for varied reasons, you also have the opportunity to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a graduate student.  Though federally funded grants are not typically available for graduate students, there are a number of low-interest federal loans that may be accessible to you.

As a graduate student, you may be eligible to receive an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan - these loans can be preferable because of the fixed interest rate and repayment schedule that begins after you graduate.

Grad Plus Loan

The Grad Plus Loan is another option you may be eligible for after filing the FAFSA.  This option also offers a fixed interest rate and flexible limits, and it can be used for up to the full cost of annual attendance.

Loan repayment can also be deferred while you are in school, and after school, you can take advantage of multiple repayment plans, including income-based repayment.

Private Loans

In addition to federally funded loan opportunities, you can also investigate private loans with your preferred lenders.  Many financial institutions offer education-specific loan opportunities for their customers.

Choosing the Best Program for You

As you continue to investigate MBA financial aid, there are a couple of additional cost saving measures to keep in mind that are not related to financial aid. 

Look for a school that is transfer-friendly.  The more credits you can begin your degree program with, the quicker you can complete it - saving you both time and money. 

It’s also important to look for a program that emphasizes efficient completion time.  If you can complete your MBA in under two years, you will reduce the number of enrolled semesters as well as overall out of pocket expenses.

Understanding financial aid for graduate school can be challenging, but our experts are standing by to walk you through the entire process.  If you’re ready to continue on the journey toward earning your MBA, reach out today.