Graduate School Scholarships
So, you’ve managed to get through undergrad (congrats!) and you’ve made that big decision to continue your education. Unfortunately, however, graduate school tuition can be frighteningly expensive. And while graduate school scholarships are a bit less abundant than for undergraduate studies, there are many opportunities to get at least part of that tuition paid for. In addition, there are numerous possibilities of finding fellowships that will fund extra additions to your education such as traveling abroad, doing research, or completing a project.
Start at Your Graduate School
Very often, graduate schools offer merit scholarships to incoming students. Sometimes they will simply take your application for admission to the school as the application for scholarships available. Some schools require that you submit separate application materials. There is no reason not to do this as it can be a simple way to lessen tuition costs. They typically range from $1000-$10,000 (lump sum or per semester), depending on the school and how they give out their awards.
And, as you have already gone through undergrad, you are probably aware of the plethora of opportunities you have to apply for scholarships. Sites like Scholarships.com are great for allowing you to search for scholarships, get advice, and even to enter into drawings for scholarships.
While fellowships aren’t technically the same as scholarships, as they won’t pay for your tuition while attending your school, they are definitely helpful for a graduate student. They boost your resume and give you the opportunity to do something very real and valuable during your schooling, such as take part in a research study or go abroad. These experiences help you gain more skills and make you more desirable to future employers, and in this economy, that is invaluable.
The Fulbright Award is the most well-known opportunity to get funded during your graduate school work. These fellowships typically pay quite large sums of money for the fellow to conduct research and promote good will towards Americans in foreign countries. The application process is very stringent and arduous, and some say that it really comes down to a formula: right proposal, right country, right time. Picking a country that is not as common, but which still has positions available, will make the likelihood of getting the Fulbright increase dramatically. For instance, if 200 people are vying for 20 spots to go to Peru, that is very competitive. However, maybe 20 people are vying for 10 spots in Uruguay; this greatly increases the odds of getting in. For more information, visit http://fulbright.state.gov/.
There are also opportunities to pledge yourself to government service or to one area for a certain amount of time in return for having all or part of graduate school paid for you. Such opportunities include the Pickering Fellowship and the Boren Fellowship.
Pickering Fellows have their full tuition paid and are then recruited into the Foreign Service. They are selected from Internationally focused degrees such as management and. International policy. They are required to spend 5 years in the Foreign Service when finished with graduate school, but many choose to stay after that.
Boren Fellowships are quite prestigious and offer large sums of money to supplement your education with language and cultural studies, as well as other projects abroad. It does not pay for your tuition during your entire graduate experience, however, it funds all aspects of your time abroad, as they pertain to your research project or language studies. At the end of your time you must commit to working for the government in your choice of agency for a minimum of one year.
Again, Work Study isn’t exactly a scholarship, but it is money that you can use to reduce your dependency on student loans and give you some spare cash during school. And, truthfully, any little bit helps during those stressful graduate school years. Thus, just like in undergrad, you must always fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) every year before the deadline (usually in March, but differs from school to school). Unless you are making a substantial amount of money before going into graduate school, your expected contribution to graduate expenses should be close to zero. This means that you will be able to qualify for work study. This is a great way to lessen costs while boosting your resume, networking with administration at your school, and meeting new students.
If you are fortunate to be employed at an established agency, organization, or firm, you may be one of those lucky few who are able to get their graduate education paid for by your employer. It is worth asking!