Congratulations on being accepted into graduate school! This is a major accomplishment that means you are on the path toward having the career of your dreams. Since there are unfortunately not a lot of need-based student loans for graduate students, this form of higher education is costly. Don't let the fear of financial commitment get in the way of what you want to be when you grow up!
The funding that is offered for graduate students is typically based on merit. The entire application protocol for scholarships, grants and fellowships is often more in-depth than it is for undergrad studies. Since award committees are seeking a complete applicant picture, they commonly request transcripts, a resume, additional financial information, test scores, and a variety of recommendation letters.
Be prepared to submit an essay along with your application too. Don't be intimidated by the amount of work you will need to put in to apply for graduate school scholarships. It will pay off in the long run. Check out these 6 tips to help you access and win graduate scholarships to help cover the costs.
1) Check with your School
Certain schools offer scholarships simply for attending their institution. Speak with the financial aid office by making an appointment to discover what scholarship opportunities are available.
2) Think of Scholarship Applications like a job
Expect to invest time and energy into each scholarship application if you expect to win the golden prize. Generally, the greater the award amount, the more effort you will be required to invest. Allow yourself many weeks to gather the requirements like transcripts and finish your applications.
You will have to have time for others to write your recommendation letters and to review and proofread your essay. Don't forget, earning a scholarship for 10k to 25k will help you save a ton of money on your degree, and it also looks extremely impressive on your resume. It shows you have the drive and dedication to do the extra steps necessary to obtain the funds to realize your dreams.
3) Pursue Options Year Round
While it can be tempting to go hard during your first graduate school semester to apply for everything you are eligible for, don't stop there. Some students feel burnt out and stop looking for opportunities. It is essential to research additional opportunities and make notes of when their deadlines are throughout the year. Discuss opportunities with your program director and financial aid office once every semester to see if extra aid may be accessed.
Your financial aid office will have all of the information if you need additional funds. Even if there is no extra cash to apply for, they typically are an excellent resource of other ideas that may help you cover the costs.
4) Seek Scholarships that reflect your Passions
Research-based graduate scholarships and essay questions are an excellent way to earn cash to fund your degree. However, remember there are numerous alternative options out there. Consider art-based and video-based opportunities to showcase your talents. The projects that you use for your application can additionally be included in your professional portfolio.
5) Manage Deadlines and Requirements
Create a spreadsheet, calendar reminders, sticky notes and other memos to meticulously keep track of each deadline you need. This will help you manage your time successfully and help you hand things in on time. Breaking down the application process into manageable steps with self-imposed deadlines will keep you on track and organized.
Look to employers, coaches and professors for your required recommendation letters. Be sure to ask in advance and give at least 3 weeks before you need them or longer if possible. Consider utilizing a spreadsheet to keep tabs on when you asked for a recommendation and who you asked and when you plan on following up. Ensure all of these components are completed before the due date.
6) Know your Expectations if you win
Keep track of the requirements that come with winning when you are applying for fellowships, grants and scholarships. Certain awards will deliver the money without any strings attached. Others may require that you maintain a particular GPA or enlist in a summer program or spend a certain amount of time in the field or a specific location for a period of time after you graduate.
Others may wish to publish your photo and your essay online as their winner. Read the fine print carefully so you understand the expectations.
Stay Positive while Seeking Graduate Awards
It may feel overwhelming when you want to find graduate school funding. However, you simply need to know where to start looking. Making an appointment with your financial aid office at your graduate institution is an excellent place to start. There may be plenty of options available for your studies. Use online resources and check out databases for free scholarships to seek extra options.
Speak with your mentors, professors, librarians and ask people who have gone into your field before you. Networking can really help you find a variety of options you may not have even known existed.