Are you thinking about enrolling yourself in graduate school? As if figuring out which program to choose wasn’t hard enough already, it is even more difficult figuring out how you will pay for it. With the entire world still seeing a rise in tuition fees, obtaining ample funding is the biggest obstacle students face when pursuing further education. Depending on the type of graduate program and the location, students need to consider semester fees, food, travel, and accommodation expenses. Not to mention, health insurance and visa costs for international travel add to the already enormous expense pile.

However, here’s the good news! While education costs may be higher than ever these days, governments and leading universities provide students with numerous funding options. Aspiring students should start looking for funding opportunities before they even apply for a graduate program. In general, they need to apply for such funding programs before the semester begins. Keeping that in mind, the following are a few ways students can obtain a master’s degree without taking a loan and going into lifelong debt.

Search for merit scholarships

Every university, school, and college has specific business interests in retaining and attracting high-achieving individuals. When looking for graduate degree programs, it would be wise to keep an eye out for institutions that offer merit-based scholarships. Visit the college, school, or university’s website to find out information on such scholarships. If you can’t find any relevant information on their website, call or email their admissions office. Even students who have already gotten accepted into a degree program will still be eligible for a merit-based scholarship. 

Apply for a niche degree program

Degree programs such as business and law are already quite common. Therefore it is highly competitive to acquire a scholarship for these programs. If you don’t have good grades, say bye-bye to your dreams of receiving a merit-based scholarship. However, you could look into degree programs that cater to a specific niche related to your area of study.

For example, if you want to go into the behavior sciences field, consider searching for a masters in applied behavior analysis online program. It will offer you the flexibility of studying on your own time while also spending less money on campus-based amenities.

Work first, get a further education later

When you complete a bachelor’s degree, your salary will definitely be on the low side. Instead of biting the bullet and spending cash, which you don’t have much of, start working and save up for a graduate degree program. These savings will add to the amount you need for graduate school in two or three years maximum.

It is always better than going to a bank and acquiring a student loan that you will have to pay for your entire adult life. Yes! A student loan is still a loan and doesn’t go away that easily. If you get part-time employment as a teacher’s assistant or a scholarship, you can always use these savings to pay for a new car or apartment.

Acquire a part-time job

While we are on the topic of working to pay for graduate school, nothing beats a part-time after-school-hours job. While people consider internships to be ‘low paying,’ you can use your bachelor’s degree to your advantage by searching for part-time jobs that fit the bill. Don’t even think about an internship if it doesn’t offer enough compensation for the work you’ll be doing. That said, internships are still a viable option for degree programs that don’t cost much. However, nothing is better than a part-time job that covers tuition and beer simultaneously.

Find degree programs that offer teaching or research assistantships

Sometimes, degree programs that allow students to work and get paid for assistantship roles aren’t well-advertised on university websites. However, most public and private graduate schools, universities, and colleges do offer them. Assistantship roles require students to participate in research or conduct classes in return for accommodation stipend and full tuition reimbursement.

For example, the University of California compensates students with an 1800 dollar monthly stipend and a per quarter 4000 dollar tuition fee reimbursement in return for working in assistantship roles. Both masters and PH.D. Students are eligible for these compensation programs. So, it is wise to ask your graduate school, college, or university of choice if they offer such programs and their eligibility criteria.

Consider applying for a one-year degree program

It is basic math! Applying for a one-year master’s degree program will cost you half the money compared to a two-year master’s degree. And in the end, you will still obtain a degree that holds the same value. However, contrary to what the fine print suggests, a one-year program will still require the same, if not more, effort to complete.

So, do some research and look for one-year degrees that cater to your area of interest. After all, they are excellent bargains and will allow you to stay debt-free your entire student life.

Conclusion

If you are thinking of attending a grad school, chances are you are making a well-informed decision. You have to apply your smarts and look at various funding options to make it through a graduate degree debt-free. Although the path won’t be easy, when you avoid saddling yourself with debt, you will have time to think about what matters more- your professional career.