Dream of going to graduate school, but if have significant student loan debt from your undergraduate years? You might be hesitant to add to that pile of debt.
Statistically, people with graduate degrees earn more in their lifetime than peers who don’t have one. But that doesn’t mean paying for grad school isn’t without financial hardship. Luckily, there are a few ways to pursue a graduate education without taking out any student loans at all.
1. Work At A University
The popular financial blogger known by her pseudonym, “Mrs. Frugalwoods,” recently shared how she attended graduate school without taking on any student loans. The key, she said, was impeccable planning.
Knowing that many people who work at universities attend graduate school for free, she spent significant time researching schools in the Washington, D.C. area with job postings that matched her qualifications.
She also carefully researched the qualifications necessary to earn free tuition at various institutions. Some universities required a year of working for them before they would fund a graduate education. Others only required four months.
Because of her research, she decided to accept a job at American University, a graduate school that would typically come with a pretty hefty price tag. She began work in August so that when January came around, she could start a brand new semester with her school totally paid for.
It definitely wasn’t easy — jugging graduate school with a full-time job is grueling, but it can be worth it if you don’t have to pay for your graduate education.
2. Try a Graduate Assistantship
A graduate assistantship is basically a part-time job at the university where you will be enrolling for your graduate degree, except unlike the example above, your priority is your school work and the assistantship serves to help give you experience in your chosen field. In fact, this is how I funded my graduate education.
Assistantships are not available for every type of graduate school. For example, you cannot get an assistantship to help pay for medical school, since most medical schools don’t allow part-time work.
However, you can get an assistantship to help pay for many Ph.D. and other master’s degree programs. An assistantship can involve a variety of jobs, but usually they are research- or teaching-based.
During my graduate assistantship, I worked for two different professors grading their papers and even teaching a couple of lessons. I was also a research assistant for a local museum and helped with other various tasks.
Assistantships usually offer a tuition waiver as well. For example, although my assistantship paid a pittance at around $14,000 per year, agreeing to work for my department as a research and teaching assistant allowed me to do meaningful work while having my tuition completely waived.
3. Find a Job With Tuition Reimbursement
Many companies encourage employees to continue their educations and learn new skills, so they will offer tuition reimbursement. Some examples include large companies like Apple, Ford, Gap, and Home Depot, who all offer up to $5,000 towards tuition for their employees.
Like the other options above, before joining a company that offers tuition reimbursement to employees, it’s important to do your research.
Once you find companies that offer tuition reimbursement as a perk, network and contact their current employees to find out how well they managed going to school part-time while working. Find out as much as you can about the program and the agreement before before committing to the idea.
It can be difficult to juggle your many responsibilities, enroll in graduate school, and convince your employer to reimburse you. But you will not only further your knowledge, you’ll show your bosses that you are dedicated to your field. You might even get a raise after you earn your degree!
Ultimately, it’s important to know that you can get through graduate school without taking on any student loan debt. Whether you put in extra work or are lucky enough to find a job that will pay you to go back to school, take your time and do your research so that you make the best possible investment in your educational future.
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|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
1 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).
3 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
Information advertised valid as of 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Discover.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
6 Important Disclosures for PNC.
Please note: PNC reserves the right to modify or discontinue the terms of these program at any time without notice. You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan. Private loans are subject to credit approval.
PNC is a registered service mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
|3.98% – 11.35%*,1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.99% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.96% – 11.98%3||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.72% – 11.87%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.66% – 9.64%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.90% – 11.11%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|