Types of Financial Aid for Grad Students

Graduate students can also have access to financial aid. In fact, qualified individuals can obtain more than one category of assistance of a combination of loans and scholarship grants.

You can have graduate education funded by fellowships and assistantships (financial assistance through part-time academic employment). There are multiple options in graduate school financial aid so that you do not have to spend your personal money for graduate school.

Categories of Financial Assistance

  • Grants can be described as gifts that do not need to be returned to the grantor. These can come from the federal government or private organizations. The priority targets are students who belong to low-income families. Government grants require applicants to maintain a certain Grade Point Average until completion of the degree to continue receiving grad school financial aid. There are various criteria and grants are geared towards research, scientific experiments, travel and other projects.
  • Scholarships are generally based on academic merits. The other facets are financial need, discipline and cultural background. It can be a one-time payment or an annual disbursement of funds. These are awarded through the college or university or through private sources. It is possible to search for graduate school financial aid on the web. There are also online scholarship search engines such as Fast Web and scholarship books. You can also get in touch with the representative of your school.
  • Assistantships are comparable to work-study programs and internships which are given out during your undergraduate studies. By availing of assistantships, you are compelled to work as teaching assistants, research assistants, assistants to faculty professors, or render administrative duties in campus. The bases of award costs are federal or state financial aid; faculty grants; and, institution assistance. Research positions are compensated through grants while teaching positions are settled through the institution. The research and teaching positions acquired are in your field of study or department. Each school has its own policies for teaching assistants and research assistants.
  • Fellowships are conferred to graduate and post-grad students. This form of grad school financial aid does not entail repayment. Fellowships may be used for research or education. Successful applicants are usually given a stipend of one to four years with or without any waiver on tuition. The fellowship award is based on merit, need, and the institution or faculty grant. A number of schools allow you to apply directly for fellowships offered through the schools. However, some universities award fellowships only to students recommended by faculty members.
  • School loans are given to students based on need but must be repaid to the grantor such as the school, bank, state government or private company. There are requirements for each type of loan with corresponding interest rates and repayment plans.

Special Federal Loan Programs

The federal government also offers specialized loans such as the Federal Direct Student Loan Program and Federal Family Education Loan Program which are under the Stafford Loans category. Another type of federal student loan is the Federal Perkins Loan which comes from government coffers and given to universities and colleges for students with financial needs. Plus Loans enable graduate students to borrow money which is equivalent to the cost of education and the amount of assistance that the student gets.