Quality graduate school education doesn’t come cheap. Especially for students whose families earn a meager income, applying for graduate school can take extensive financial planning just to accommodate the anticipated expenses. The good news is, there are financial aid institutions and organizations that grant loans and scholarships to get you through graduate school.
An option that a lot of students go for is to apply for government-funded financial aid through FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Just make sure that the graduate school you’re planning to go to is a participant of federal student aid programs, and that you meet the standard requirements set by FAFSA before you start filling in the application form.
In-house financial aid programs
Most graduate schools have in-house financial aid and scholarship programs which you can avail of, depending on the major or program you enrolled in. The FAFSA is used by universities to gauge and determine a student’s financial situation and aid eligibility. This however, only applies to schools and universities that are participating members of the federal student aid.
For private schools and institutions, additional application documents may be required from students to be eligible for institutional financial aid. These documents usually include the graduate admission essay, in which students can explain their economic and financial status. Some grad schools don’t have in-house financial aid and scholarship programs. Instead, they establish tie-ups with funding organizations to help their students cope with the financial demands of graduate studies. Below are examples of these external funding organizations for various fields of study:
Gates Millennium Scholars
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) was initially an offshoot of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates Millennium Scholars has been providing scholarships since 1999 and have paid for the education of more than 12,000 students. The goal of GMS is to help students of racial minorities have access to quality education by reducing their financial woes. The GMS also aims to increase the representation of such target groups in various academic disciplines such as engineering, mathematics, health sciences, etc.
American Association for University Women
American Association for University Women (AAUW) – The AAUW Educational Foundation provides fellowships and graduate study grants to women, regardless of race, religion, and socio-economic background.
The Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation offers fellowship grants and aid for graduate students from different races and background planning to earn doctorate degrees. The foundation however, only offers these grants for specific majors and academic disciplines including Engineering, Computer Science, History, Earth Sciences, etc.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation – provides financial aid of up to $30,000 for graduate studies, fellowships, and leadership trainings for students who wish to take advanced degrees in public service disciplines.
NASA Aeronautics Scholarship Program
NASA Aeronautics Scholarship Program awards scholarships to students who plan to pursue graduate studies in the fields of Aeronautics, Aeronautical Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical and Electric Engineering, and other related fields. The NASA ASP awards grants of up to $11,000 per school year plus an annual stipend of $35,000.