How to Fund Your Online Master’s Degree Without Breaking the Bank

Master's Degree

A graduate degree can significantly improve your career prospects and boost your salary potential. But, a graduate degree is a costly undertaking.

It is common for graduate students to take on disproportionate student debt. But, a master’s degree can still be within reach for many future graduate students with intelligent planning and funding strategies.

Scholarships and Grants

Hardly a day goes by without hearing of soaring student debt or skyrocketing tuition fees. But getting a master’s degree isn’t cheap, especially when you factor in the time and money needed for the work required to graduate.

First, consider applying for scholarships and grants to save as much money as possible. Financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid is available from universities, professional associations, private foundations, for-profit businesses, and state governments. Scholarship applications can be competitive but are worth the effort because every dollar you don’t have to pay back is one less you have to spend on tuition.

Grants are typically need-based, meaning you must provide information about your family finances and submit a FAFSA form to be eligible. However, there are also merit-based scholarships for students based on their academic or athletic achievement and other characteristics like ancestral background.

To be sure you’re applying for all the grants and scholarships you can, it’s best to start planning in your junior year of college. That gives you enough time to complete a FAFSA form, research schools, and programs, and comply with the application requirements. It will help you get the most bang when financing your online masters degree.

Working While You Study

While a master’s degree is an investment, you can take steps to make it affordable. Many students find that working while studying helps them pay their fees and reduces the money they have to borrow for school.

One way to work while you study is to apply for a fellowship that pays you a living stipend while you complete your master’s degree. Depending on your situation, you can use this money to pay for your tuition, living expenses, or both.

Another way to work while you study is to secure a position as a graduate assistant or teaching assistant at your university. It is typically a paid position that gives you hands-on experience in your field of study while helping you earn income to cover your school costs.

Employers may reimburse master’s degree costs if relevant to the job. To make the most of the benefit your employer provides, it is recommended to contact your manager or HR department to learn about the program’s eligibility criteria. It will give you a better understanding of how you can benefit from this opportunity.

If you have already racked up student debt in your undergraduate studies, be aware that you must repay these loans after graduation from your master’s degree program. However, you can still file the FAFSA as a graduate student to see if you qualify for federal grants, work-study programs, and other assistance.

Federal Work-Study Placements

Many companies offer tuition reimbursement or the option to take classes part-time for free. It’s a good idea to ask your employer if this is an option before enrolling in a graduate program, as it may require several years or a certain level of performance.

Federal work-study placements are available to students who demonstrate financial need through their FAFSA application. This opportunity can provide work experience and monetary relief for college students. The average student working under this program works between 10 and 20 hours per week, and most positions pay at least the current federal minimum wage.

If you can secure a fellowship, you can receive complete tuition remission and a living stipend while pursuing your master’s degree online. It is a great way to avoid taking out significant student loans, but be sure to seek out programs requiring students to focus solely on their studies.

If you’re considering a graduate degree, starting planning while still in college is best. It gives you time to make a solid choice in your field of study, meet admission requirements, and become a competitive applicant. It also helps you pay off your undergraduate student debt, stabilize your finances, and save for graduate school expenses. It can help prevent graduate-level student loan debt from weighing you down for years.

Bank Loans

Taking out student loans to fund your online master’s degree isn’t unpleasant. And with tuition fees rising, even a graduate degree can be unaffordable. That is why thinking ahead and planning for your education costs is essential.

The first step is determining how much it will cost to study for your online master’s program. Includes the program’s cost, the tuition rate, and other hidden expenses such as distance learning fees, proctored examination fees, graduation fees, and more. You must also factor in any wages you may lose while focusing on your studies full-time.

Another critical step is to apply for scholarships, fellowships, and grants. While these are more limited than those offered to undergraduate students, they can still significantly reduce the cost of an online master’s degree. Search for specialized scholarships and grants tailored to specific fields, such as military personnel, veterans, and aspiring teachers.

Finally, pursuing a graduate degree is worth waiting until you have paid off some of your undergraduate student loans and stabilized your finances. It will also allow you to discover whether a master’s is indeed the right career move for you. If it is, then go for it. The payoff will be worth it.


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