Financing grad school can be confusing. Because there is so much variance, this page is designed to give you a quick overview of some of the most common terms you will encounter and provide a bibliography of sources for you to consult. Then, consult the financial aid offices and departments of the schools you plan to learn what to expect.
The amount of funding you can receive for graduate school depends upon the type of degree, the institution, your financial need, academic merit, and persistence in seeking aid. Many students in the sciences attend graduate school at little cost because of the amount of grant money and number of research and teaching assistantships available. Those attending law and medical school have fewer options and generally owe a substantial amount in loans.
Please note: It is best to avoid the "scholarship finder services." The information provided is often the same you could get for free with minimal effort. The World Wide Web is a tremendous sources of information on fellowships and scholarships, so look at these websites:
Types of Aid:
Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants: Need- or merit-based. Granted by the federal government, state, school, and department or outside sources. Generally do not require any kind of service. Sometimes qualifications are very specific.
Teaching Assistantships: Requires performance of teaching duties, ranging from grading papers to teaching courses. Good practice for graduate students interested in teaching careers, but it will take away 20-30 hours a week from research.
Work-Study: Most campuses target work-study funding toward undergraduates, although some graduate students might meet the requirements.
Research Assistantships: Requires you to perform research duties for your advisor. This could be on work unrelated to your future research topic. If you're lucky, you will be working on something that will evolve into your thesis topic. Good way to explore the field and learn laboratory techniques.
Loans: Loans represent more than half of all financial aid. The federal loan programs such as Stafford and Perkins provide low interest funding based on need. Some loans do not need to be repaid until after graduation.