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5 Ways You Can Pay for Your Online Graduate Program

By on August 17, 2018 in Graduate School with 2 Comments

Ways to Pay for Online Grad School

For busy working adults, getting a graduate degree may seem impossible. In addition to the time it takes to complete a degree and attend classes, they must come up with the finances to pursue their studies. Online graduate degree programs provide a measure of flexibility that allows working adults to pursue advanced degrees, but they still have to be paid for. If you’re considering starting an online graduate degree program, here are some ways you can pay for your tuition.

1. Start with the FAFSA
Yes, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you filed when seeking financial aid for your undergraduate degree still applies when you are getting your graduate degree. As long as you do not enter graduate school immediately after undergrad and are not living at home, you will be considered an independent student. This means you only have to fill in your income, not the income of your parents. This change in status can change your eligibility for various programs.

The FAFSA determines if you are eligible for loans specifically for graduate students. The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan allows you to borrow up to $20,500 per year for your graduate training. Grad PLUS loans are for those with a good credit score and allow you to borrow the full amount of your tuition if needed. Both loans require the FAFSA to get started.

The FAFSA also opens the door for need-based grants through the federal government. Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. Since you will be applying as an independent student, you may be eligible for a grant even if you were not eligible when you received your undergraduate. Your new financial status may make a difference.

2. Ask Your Employer
If your graduate degree will be of benefit to your employer, consider asking for tuition assistance. Some companies offer this as one of their employee benefits, and others will provide assistance if the degree benefits the company by bringing new skills to the team. Both tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities are often possible for valued employees. Even if these programs are not advertised by your human resources department, it never hurts to ask.

3. Check with the School
Many online universities and colleges have graduate school financing programs, and some offer scholarships based on academic achievement. Check with the financial aid department to learn about these. Your financial aid counselor will help steer you toward the options to pay for your schooling using these programs.

4. Seek a Scholarship
Scholarships for graduate programs often come from the schools themselves and are based on merit. While the financial aid department is a good place to start looking for these programs, sometimes graduate scholarships come from academic departments instead of the school’s financial aid department, according to U.S. News and World Report. In addition, look for scholarships through private and public organizations in your career or service field. Working your network connections may help you learn about these available scholarships in your particular field. Be sure to apply early before awards are given out to give yourself the best chance to receive one.

5. Take out a Private Loan
Many adults have access to private loans using creative financing like home equity loans and lines of credit. If your credit score is high enough, you may even be able to apply for a private loan with no collateral through your bank. These loans can be more affordable than other financing options.

If you are considering an online graduate degree from Abilene Christian University, financial assistance is available to help pay for your education. Contact a Financial Intake Specialist to learn more about financial aid opportunities at ACU Online. With the help of the right loans, grants and scholarships, your degree can be an affordable way to advance your skills and your income.

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