Graduate school can be an excellent investment in your career, and graduate school scholarships and grants can help you foot the bill. If you’re considering a graduate-level degree and you want to avoid racking up more student debt, read on to learn how different aid options can help fill the gaps.
Where to find free financial aid for graduate school
As you prepare to head back to college, student loans may be the first type of financial aid that come to mind. However, you’ll want to keep your eye out for certain types of aid that don’t need to be paid back, including graduate school scholarships and grants.
Scholarships always seem to be targeted to high school students and undergraduate students, but hundreds of companies and organizations hand out graduate school scholarships, sometimes referred to as fellowships.
While you can search for scholarships directly with local organizations, there are also a number of scholarship search engines that compile hundreds of scholarships in one place. If you’re on the hunt for a graduate school scholarship, these websites can help:
- BigFuture: This College Board search tool lets you search for graduate school scholarships and other financial aid. You can narrow your search based on your future career field, organizations you belong to, the type of award you’re pursuing and more.
- Fastweb: A leader in scholarship searches, Fastweb features scholarships and grants for graduate students. After you register, you can search based on your year, major and interests.
- GoGrad: Once you register with GoGrad, you can search for graduate school scholarships based on where you’re going to school, your gender, your military affiliation and more.
- Sallie Mae’s Graduate School Scholarships: Once you register for free, you’ll have access to $1 billion in graduate school scholarships.
- Scholarships.com: Even though most of the scholarships available on Scholarships.com are for undergraduates, there are lots of options for grad students. After you create your free profile, you can put what level of schooling you’ve completed or search for grad school scholarships.
- Unigo: Browse by your intended major, like law, business or medicine. You can also search for scholarships based on merit or need, or look into fellowship programs.
Like scholarships, grants are a type of funding that doesn’t need to be repaid. With that being said, grants are more likely to require a certain level of financial need to qualify.
There are multiple types of grants for grad school, including:
- Federal grants: If you’re considering a career in teaching, you may qualify for a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. Further, teachers pursuing postbaccalaureate certification may qualify for a federal Pell Grant. Fulbright Grants are also available for a variety of disciplines. To see whether you qualify for federal grants, you’ll need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- State grants: Most states set aside funds for graduate school grants, which may be distributed according to need or merit. As with federal grants, these are typically made available once you submit the FAFSA.
- School grants: Many schools have grants available for students with financial need or those pursuing specific degrees. For instance, Michigan State University offers fellowship programs for graduate students enrolled in a doctoral or master’s of fine arts program. Contact the financial aid department or graduate department of your school to ask about details.
- Grants from private organizations: You may also search for grants directly from private organizations, such as the American Association of University Women. Some require you to join the organization first, which usually costs a fee. If you’re only joining the organization for the award, first make sure that the grant you’re after is offered to grad students.