Five Tips for Financing your Master’s Degree
Finding the money for a graduate degree is a different challenge than that posed by an undergraduate program. The number of scholarship programs is smaller and it takes some searching to find them. On the other hand, the number of applicants is going to be substantially reduced from what you find for undergraduate scholarships.
There are also corporations and government agencies that see substantial value in introducing more masterís degree graduates into certain professions. Some of the opportunities offered by these organizations are mentioned here, but there are many more to be found. The major accounting firms all have scholarship programs for business or accounting students, some of which are for graduate degrees. Technology companies such as Apple support scholarship programs. Here are five of the better resources for loans, scholarships and grants available to masterís degree students today.
1. Federal Loans: The federal student loan machine is available to graduate students as well as to undergrads. The rules are a little different, and itís not as cheap but the option is there. Stafford loans are the standard vehicle for federally backed student loans, which are attractive options in that no payments are necessary until graduation and the interest rate can be as low as 5.6%. There is also the federally backed GradPLus program made available to graduate students only, which provides the opportunity to borrow up to the entire amount of your masterís degree costs minus any other financial aid you may be receiving. If the entire cost of the program is fifty thousand dollars and you are receiving thirty thousand in grants you can borrow twenty thousand dollars. Currently the interest rate on GradPlus loans is 7.9%.
2. Loan Forgiveness for Teachers: Under the terms of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 federal government has instituted a loan forgiveness program for teaching students of up to $17,500 in principal and interest, for those who are willing to devote five years to teaching in a designated low-income school or area. There are also several states that have similar programs, offering loan forgiveness programs and outright education grants in return for teaching under certain circumstances within that state.
3. Nursing Scholarships: These are available for undergraduate and graduate nursing students who are willing to commit to working for a specified period of time in an area with acute need for medical personnel. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides full tuition and a stipend for living costs through their Nurse Scholarship Program. In return the graduate must agree to work in a facility that is severely understaffed and acceptable to the HRSA for two years.
4. Public Health Scholarships: Sources in this sector are available for students seeking a Master of Public Health or a Master of Health Administration. The National Environmental Health Association sponsors an annual grant and scholarship program. There is also about a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships made available annually through the Tylenol Scholarship Program. The Health Resources and Services Administration within the federal government has an entire slate of grants, scholarships and loan programs available to students in the healthcare sector.
5. Technology Scholarships: There are several programs that are administered by individual universities and underwritten by foundations or government agencies. The National Science Foundation has a broad program that includes graduate students, for majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Morgan Stanley underwrites a scholarship program for the technology sector that includes opportunities for masterís degree students who are in a fifth year program. The National Center for Women in Information Technology is an organization of over 200 groups and institutions that sponsors a number of student support programs.
Bob Hartzell is a freelance writer for Master-Degree-Online.com who has written extensively on higher education, including a number of articles on the variety of masters degree programs available today that have developed over the past ten years.