How to Pay for Graduate School Without Student LoansFebruary 9, 2022
Figuring out how to pay for grad school without loans can take some work. Most graduate programs are expensive, with tuition and fees totaling tens of thousands of dollars each year — and that’s not including room and board.
The good news: there are ways to pay for grad school without loans if you plan carefully and explore all your options. However, if you do end up borrowing student loans for graduate school, keep in mind there are affordable options out there.
Here’s what you need to know about how to pay for graduate school without loans.
How to Pay for Grad School Without Loans
A variety of ways exist to pay for grad school without loans. Here are seven options to consider.
1. Find a University Job
Many universities offer no-cost tuition as an employee benefit. However, you will typically need to work full-time to qualify, which can make juggling your time difficult while earning your degree. For this benefit to stay in effect, you may also need to work for the university during the entire time you’re attending your graduate program. Therefore, you should make sure you’re ready to commit to the job for a while.
2. Look for a Company Offering Tuition Reimbursement
When looking into how to pay for graduate school without loans, research whether companies in your area provide tuition reimbursement for their workers. Home Depot is one example of a big company that offers this employee benefit under certain circumstances.
In some cases, you will need to earn a degree in a related field or commit to working for your employer for a certain length of time in order for the company to agree to pay for your graduate program. So, find out all of the details before accepting a job based on the idea that it will help you fund your schooling.
3. Apply for Scholarships and Grants
Grants and scholarships may be available from your school, state or federal governments, professional organizations, and other local or national organizations. The money that comes from grants or scholarships does not usually have to be paid back.
Research scholarships and grants by using online scholarship databases, talking with your financial aid office, and reaching out to groups in your area. You may be able to identify plenty of sources of free funding to help pay for most or all of your graduate degree. Just be sure you begin your search early and carefully review the rules for applying for scholarships or grants.
Learn More: Scholarships for Graduate Students
4. Look for a Specialized Program
Schools may offer special programs such as fellowship programs that come with funding for a graduate school degree. The best way to identify a program that will be wholly or partially paid for is to work with an undergraduate advisor or reach out to the financial aid office of schools you are interested in attending.
5. Work a Part-Time Job
Working part time can be one of the best ways to pay for grad school without loans. You can earn a paycheck and put the money towards covering the cost of your degree, as well as room and board and other expenses.
Research jobs that will allow you the flexible schedule you will need to attend graduate school and that will enable you to earn enough money to pay tuition. Start looking early and be open to all of the options available in your area.
6. Look into Public Grad Schools
Public graduate schools may have lower tuition costs, which can make it much easier to pay for school without loans than it would be if you attended a private school. If you’ll be working part time or trying to save up to pay for school by working first, it can be a lot easier to amass enough money to cover public school tuition than private school tuition.
7. Consider Working First to Save Up for Grad School
Finally, you may want to consider working for a year or two before attending graduate school. If you can live frugally during that period, you may be able to save enough to cover most or all of your tuition costs without having to borrow. The benefit of this approach is that you can amass the money first before earning your degree, so you don’t have to divide your time between studying and paying for your program.
What If You Can’t Pay for Grad School Without Loans?
Although it’s worth researching how to pay for grad school without loans, this isn’t going to be possible in every situation. If you can’t find a way to fund your degree entirely without borrowing, don’t give up on your education because alternative options exist.
Federal and private student loans can help you fund the cost of earning a graduate degree if you can’t figure out how to pay for graduate school without loans. These loans often come with favorable terms, including flexible repayment schedules and low-interest rates.
Furthermore, if you already have student loans, you may want to consider refinancing. Refinancing your student loans could help you save money on your monthly payments or over the life of your loan. Use our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator to get an estimate for what you could save by refinancing your student loans with ELFI.*
Earning a graduate degree can open up new doors in your career and is a prerequisite for many positions. Take the time to explore all of your financing options if earning a graduate degree is something you’re interested in pursuing.