Grad school can be expensive, so figuring out how to pay for it can be a stressful and overwhelming task, especially if you have already taken out student loans to finance your undergraduate education. In most cases, graduate course credits cost twice as much as undergraduate ones do. Even worse, government financial aid is limited for graduate scholarships.
While your chances of receiving any assistance to help finance your postgraduate education may seem slim now, what you may not realize is that there are a variety of graduate scholarships available, they’re just a little harder to find. Graduate scholarships can be competitive, but don’t let this discourage you from taking your education to the next level. Conducting rigorous research and keeping in mind some helpful scholarship tips will definitely pay off. Read on for advice on graduate scholarships and other sources of funding.
Start Early. File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early so you can apply for scholarships early. Many federal and college scholarship sponsors required you to complete the FAFSA before awarding the scholarship. Create a list of every graduate scholarship you can find and apply early! Make sure to note all of the deadlines and even establish your own personal deadline a great deal of time before the actual deadline. This will help you stay motivated and get all the required forms and materials out on time. An effective rule of thumb is to begin the search process for graduate scholarships 18 months before you wish to begin a graduate program.
Find Scholarships That Apply Directly to You. Begin looking at scholarship opportunities that match your interests and lifestyle. Look into scholarships that are awarded by your area of study, where you live, and even extracurricular activities you participate in. Additionally, many scholarships are intended for people with specific traits or characteristics.
Look for Smaller Scholarships. Every year, there are a wide variety of scholarships that have only a few people applying for them or even go unused. Search for these types of scholarships to better your chance of winning them.
Contact Your Undergraduate School. Many colleges nationwide offer scholarships for their alumni who wish to attend graduate school.
Browse the Websites of Potential Schools. Visit the websites of graduate schools you are considering to find a list of scholarships offered directly to graduate students. Many institutions offer scholarships for certain fields of study, by department, and for students who demonstrate leadership potential and other competitive characteristics.
Contact Your Department of Interest at Different Schools. If you have not yet decided on a graduate school, contact potential choices and let them know you are interested in graduate scholarships. Many scholarships are awarded by a selection committee and you need to be in contact with the people who may be making a decision regarding funding.
Look into Professional Organizations. Contact the professional organizations you belong to and ask if they offer scholarships for graduate studies.
Be Wary of Solicitation. Take caution from any type of agency that offers to conduct a scholarship search for you for a fee. Honestly, with a little bit of time and effort you can most likely obtain the same information for free. Also, beware that some free scholarship search engines collect your information and sell it. Look for free searches that do not require you to register or provide personal information.
Follow All Application Instructions. For all types of graduate scholarships, it is essential to precisely follow the application instructions.
Prepare Supporting Documents. Before you apply for graduate scholarships, polish your resume, write an essay about your career goals, and jot down your unique characteristics. This will help prepare you, as many scholarships ask for this information.