Now more than ever, graduate degrees are prerequisites for many careers. Unfortunately, graduate school costs have only continued to rise, with tuition often exceeding $10,000 to $20,000 per year. In addition to covering living costs, pursuing a graduate degree can feel unaffordable. On top of all of that, you’ve likely heard some sort of buzz about student loans. This funding source was once considered a great option for paying for grad school, but the student debt crisis has made more and more students wary of borrowing student loans to cover their costs.
Fortunately, paying for graduate school is not something you have to do alone. There are scholarships available for graduate students across all fields, degree plans and institutions. Where can you find graduate scholarships, grants and funding?
Where Should You Look for Scholarships?
When looking for graduate scholarships, starting with your specific institution is a good choice. While funding may not always be transparent, many colleges offer scholarships or grants for individual graduate programs. Check with your department or the financial aid office to understand any potential funding opportunities available within your school. You’ll likely need to fill out scholarship applications specific to your degree or department in order to qualify for award consideration. A number of schools also offer alternative funding opportunities, including fellowships, teaching assistant work or research positions.
Online Resources for Scholarships
The majority of non-college-specific scholarships can be found online. But where can you start looking to find reliable, trustworthy scholarship sources online? GoGrad is one such online resource for grad scholarships. The site was developed specifically to assist graduate students in pursuing and completing their degrees. This includes pointing grad students towards financial resources. GoGrad offers scholarship opportunities and assesses the potential costs associated with graduate schools.
Sallie Mae’s Graduate School Scholarship Search is another grad-specific scholarship site. When you register for Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search, you’ll be given access to a database of nearly one million graduate school scholarships. Plus, they let you personalize your searches depending on your needs, and they’ll send notifications for new scholarships that fit you.
FastWeb is another strong contender for scholarship support. The site features a significant database of frequently-updated scholarships and grants. They let you fill out a profile with your graduate status, program type and other factors, then offer personalized scholarships via email. FastWeb compiles graduate scholarships into one place so you won’t have to hunt for scholarships that are relevant to you.
These are only a handful of great graduate scholarship sites. If you need more support than your university offers, you can find a range of unique scholarships online.
Graduate School Scholarships for Minorities
While minority graduate enrollment has increased in the last decade, graduate program costs still hinder many marginalized groups. A study in 2016 found that only 13.5% of grad students were Black and 9.2% Latino/a. During the fall of 2021, a report from EAB found that 45% of Black students reconsidered graduate school due to the cost. Fortunately, there are many scholarships designed with the specific goal of helping minority students access the same programs as their peers.
Black Grad Scholarships
The Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship is awarded to Black or other ethnically diverse students who are enrolled in the concluding year of any healthcare management program. The American College of Healthcare Executives awards up to 15 of these scholarships each year. Each is worth $5,000.
The Allison E. Fisher Scholarship aims to support Black grad students pursuing careers in journalism. The application requires that students submit proof of prior community service, as well as an essay response to the question, “What are the top three reasons you would like to pursue a career in journalism, and what do you hope your legacy as a journalist will be?”
The NAACP’s Earl Warren Legal Training Program offers scholarships to Black graduate students pursuing law. Students who qualify for this scholarship must demonstrate an interest in using their law degree to fight for racial justice and have a strong academic background. They must also demonstrate financial need. Scholars will receive $15,000 in funding for three years.
Native American Scholarships
The American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship is offered to Native American (including Alaskan) graduate students who are full-time students at accredited higher-learning institutes. Students who apply for this scholarship must demonstrate tribal enrollment or descendency from Native tribes. They also require that all students who apply have at least a 2.0 GPA.
The Native Forward Scholars Fund provides a wide array of scholarship funding for graduate students. They offer opportunities for those in varying fields, including healthcare, STEM, the culinary arts, journalism and more. Conditions for funding vary for each scholarship.
Asian and Pacific-Islander Scholarships
The Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship from Against the Grain provides funding to students who show leadership in Asian American communities. The scholarship is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students who show “visionary leadership abilities through innovative means.” Those who apply need a GPA of 3.5 to 4 and be at least 25% Asian ethnicity. Students may receive up to $1,500 from the award.
The Filipino American Psychology Scholarship is awarded to Filipino American graduate students who are studying psychology or related fields. The creators of the scholarship hope that it will “[lead] to a greater representation and understanding of Filipino American people.” Those who receive this funding are also given guidance from the committee in their academic and professional careers.
Funding Opportunities Beyond Scholarships
If outside scholarships are not enough to support you, other options exist. Depending on the type of program you pursue, some schools may offer partial or complete funding for your graduate career. For example, a graduate student in science or mathematics who engages in on-campus research may qualify for academic funding. Many programs in the creative humanities, including art and English, offer full funding to students, though they may only accept a small cohort each year. Some programs may require you to teach a class or work as a teaching assistant for funding.
Are Private Student Loans Right for Me?
At the end of the day, even with scholarships, you may not be able to fund your graduate program fully. Should you take out student loans to pursue a Ph.D. or a master’s? Answering this will be different for each student. Student loans may be worth it if you feel that your program will be valuable to you or if you require an advanced degree. However, if you’re struggling to come up with the funds and don’t have an urgent need to complete a graduate program, you may want to wait, save up and apply for additional scholarships. Fortunately, you can often defer graduate admission. If you choose to access federal loans, you’ll need to fill out a FAFSA application.
At the end of the day, grad school is expensive, but scholarships can make it more accessible. Campus resources and online databases can help you find the funding you need to support your graduate career.