How Do Graduate Students Qualify For Financial Aid?

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Earning your Bachelor’s degree can be an exciting, yet scary, time. After all, you’ve worked hard to achieve all of this over the last four years, but now you have a choice. Search for a job or continue your education? Choosing education can be a bit frightening, due to the continued cost, but just like for undergraduate school, there are options when it comes to grads who need financial aid.


Just like undergraduate school, the best place to start for graduate students is FAFSA. However, the process is a little different now. You most likely qualify for independent status, meaning you’ll no longer be tied to your parents’ salary. This could open up quite a few doors for loans and other means of financial aid based on demonstrated need.

As a graduate student, you can be eligible for direct unsubsidized loans and PLUS loans. The direct unsubsidized loans are currently restricted to $20,500 per year, but certain studies may allow you to increase the amount. If that isn’t enough for your tuition, you may apply for a PLUS loan, but this requires a credit check.

Private Loans

As with FAFSA, graduates can also consider the pros and cons of private loans. It may work a little differently though, due to your age and potential job. If you work and have good credit, you might now qualify for a private loan without a parent or other relative volunteering to be a cosigner. However, if you’re not working, you may still be that cosigner.

Make sure to shop around when it comes to private loans. Not all are the same, so you definitely want to weigh interest rates, repayment plans, and loan amounts before you make a final decision.

If you use College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder, you can compare lenders and interest rates side by side!


Just because you graduated from undergraduate school doesn’t mean you should stop applying to scholarships! There are plenty out there for undergraduates and graduates, but also several that are dedicated solely to those going after their Master’s. Check with the school you’re attending, but don’t forget about online scholarship databases. They can help you narrow down the choices so you can see what you’re eligible for.

On a similar note, you may want to consider a fellowship. Not quite a scholarship, it could provide you with the money you need to attend graduate school and valuable field experience. To find these opportunities, ask your school if there are any available. You will also want to check out job boards, but search internships as well since some fellowships are advertised as such. However, keep in mind that these tend to be highly competitive.

Continuing your education may be just what you need for your personal growth or desired career, but there’s no doubt that it can be a scary prospect when you think about how you’re going to pay for it. However, just like undergraduate school, there are several options available to you. Continue completing the FAFSA and applying to scholarships, but if that doesn’t supply enough, it is time to research other options such as private loans.

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