Some financial aid programs are specific to graduate and professional students. Here are brief descriptions of some of the more common programs that are available.
Fellowships and Traineeships
If you are considered one of the most highly qualified students in your graduate or professional program, you may be eligible to attain a fellowship or traineeship. These financial awards are provided by an organization or department from your graduate or professional school, and are generally awarded based on academic merit. However, some restrict eligibility to those studying a specific field or having a unique demographic. These programs generally pay for tuition and offer a stipend for living expenses.
Speak with your school's financial aid office for more information.
Cooperative Education and Employer-Paid Tuition Opportunities
There are many opportunities to earn a graduate or professional degree through cooperative education programs. Cooperative education gives you practical experience in a paying job related to your major field of study. Your salary will usually cover the cost of tuition. The federal government offers many choices of jobs and academic plans. Check with your graduate or professional school to find out if it participates in this kind of program.
Other possibilities to consider include attending graduate school part time during evenings and weekends, while continuing to work full or part time. Many employers are willing to pay all or part of their employees' tuition for graduate studies.
Inquire about possible cooperative education programs and tuition reimbursement plans at your workplace.
Teaching and Research Assistantships
Teaching and research assistantships allow you to assist the professor with class discussions, grading papers, tutoring students, etc., for about 20 hours a week. In return, you receive a salary to help pay for your schooling; or in some cases, your tuition is reduced or even waived.
Such programs are offered in most areas of study. They not only provide financial benefits, but you'll also gain skills, experience and knowledge in your chosen field. Speak with your school's financial aid office for more information about assistantship availability at your graduate or professional school.
Check with the department chairperson or dean at your school about the possibility of awards given by the school itself and/or your individual academic department.