Top Options for Funding Graduate School


Returning to college to complete an advanced degree is an important and expensive decision. You return to a formal education setting with hopes of a better paying job or more fulfilling career but must find ways to pay for additional schooling without adding thousands of dollars in debt to your balance sheet. Here are five effective ways to pay for a graduate degree, that does not involve borrowing money.

  1. Employer benefits. Many companies encourage continuing education by offering financial incentives, usually in the form of reimbursements when employees take additional classes. Incentives may include a vesting period, requiring you to remain employed with the company for a set period or risk repaying the awarded benefits. You can attend school part-time but must cover the initial cost upfront.
  2. Scholarships provide free money for school found through the financial aid process, private scholarships, and the department offering the degree. You can attend part-time or full-time with no strings attached. They can be very competitive to win with more adults returning to school.
  3. Fellowships are one of the most effective ways to pay for a graduate degree but typically require full-time They often cover the full price of tuition and include a monthly or yearly living stipend in exchange for research hours or teaching assignments. Apply early for the best chances at fellowships.
  4. School employment can reduce reliance on loans by assisting with living costs while in school. Many schools encourage graduate students to work part-time building relationships with faculty and staff, which could lead to job opportunities after completing your degree.
  5. Tax credits. The IRS offers tax credits such as the Lifetime Learning Credit to assist with the cost of schooling.

Finding free money or employment while in school can reduce the need for student loans.