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.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
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.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* 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.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 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.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|