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The number of students enrolling in the master’s program continues to increase every year. In 2019, more than 820,000 enrollments in the master’s program across the US.
However, this doesn’t imply that the tuition fees for completing a master’s degree have spiraled downwards. In fact, it’s the other way around. On average, students graduating with a master’s degree carry a debt of more than $80,000. Sure, deciding on earning a master’s degree is exciting, but getting your finances right can be a daunting task. And if you don’t have the necessary funds, you’ve got to figure out smart ways to arrange for them.
Fortunately, taking student loans isn’t the only option for financing your degree. With suitable alternatives, you’ll breeze through your master’s without worrying too much about the courses’ fees. Plus, once you graduate, you’ll get a significant return on investment. Hence getting yourself enrolled in a master’s program isn’t something that’s not worth it.
So, relax and read up on four ways you can use to fund your masters without ever running out of money or taking a shit pile of debt!
Tips To Fund Your Masters Without Taking Student Loans
1. Research Grants
Compared to scholarships, grants are a tad more specialized. Therefore, getting your hands on them is a little tricky. However, it’s a great career development option if you plan to pursue a career in research. So, what do you need to do? Simple; hunt for some project or research grants within your institution – but they should be related to your degree. For example, if you enroll in CSWE Accredited Online MSW programs, consider acquiring grants from organizations that fund research projects related to social work and community well-being.
To allow students to buy necessary equipment or supplies, travel for research, or complete specialized training, many departments carry grant funding for graduate students. Don’t shy away from asking your advisor or professor about grants. It’s possible that they may have applied for the financing and are actively looking for research assistants.
Browsing the internet helps too. For example, h.net.org offers grants for students enrolled in a master’s in the social sciences or humanities program. Similarly, the National Institution of Health has built a funding website to offer health science graduates grants.
2. Employer Tuition Reimbursement
You might find it a little surprising, but some employers don’t mind reimbursing employees a good chunk of their grad school fees. Some companies have tuition reimbursement plans that aim to cover some of your total costs of grad school.
But be vigilant about the T and Cs. While some employers are generous enough to offer you this additional compensation, it usually comes with specific bindings. For example, your employer might just fund only some particular degree programs. Or they would want you to stay with the company for a particular timeframe, often spanning over multiple years.
But don’t despair if your employer doesn’t have any such policy or program. Go to your company’s HR department and inquire if they offer any such benefits. Some employers may allow you to keep a flexible work schedule to take your classes on time as long as you meet work-related deadlines. That in itself is a big perk to keep you sane throughout the process.
No, undergraduates aren’t the only lucky ones to get scholarships. There are a plethora of scholarships that fund grad studies – you just have to do a little searching on the internet. If you’re currently enrolled in a master’s program, visit your institution’s financial aid department and see if there are any department or course-specific scholarships. Of course, the internet is the best place to look for grad funding. Look for financing based on courses, level of the degree, and even specific individual qualifications such as military or gender service.
4. Become A Resident Advisor (RA)
Remember the good old RAs you used to meet during your undergrad? Yep, those individuals that guided you to the nearest, hall helped you settle into your dorm and shouted at you for violating quiet hours.
While RAs don’t get their fair share of appreciation, their compensation is pretty good. In fact, RAs get funding for part or all of their on-campus lodging. In some schools, they also get a stipend, a reduction in their tuition fee, or an attractive meal plan.
However, the compensation is entirely dependent on the grad school you’ll attend. Hence, dial your residential life office and ask what RAs are currently earning. While the perks of being an RA are endless, don’t think your responsibilities wouldn’t be ample. Being an RA is no joke. It requires continuous supervision, and you’ll have to give this duty some time.
But this position will allow you to save a lot of money annually. Plus, you’ll be awarded a free meal plan, a free place to live, and you’ll save more. Also, your diet wouldn’t be stuffing down stale pizza or ramen down your throat, so you’ll be pretty set. Since RAs don’t have to share a room, you’ll also have way more privacy than someone living in an apartment full of roommates.
So, if RAs receive so many benefits, why isn’t everyone an RA? Because the job is selective and the competition is insanely fierce. Before applying, craft an incredible resume and try to ace the interview. If you grab this position, funding your masters wouldn’t be too much of a problem!
We understand. Going to grad school and preparing to take on some more debt isn’t a thrilling thought by any stretch of the imagination. But hold yourself high because you’re investing in your education – the number one step to becoming successful. Plus, there are several grants and scholarships you can use – and you won’t have to pay them back!
Also, if you need more funding, there are always private and federal student loans with low-interest rates at your helm. The options are endless, just commit to the master’s program, and things will fall in place!