Grad School Tuition: A Hefty Investment

If, ten years ago, you asked a corporate human resource person what their ideal candidate for an entry level job applicant would look like, they would cite someone with a bachelor’s degree. Today, that standard has changed and most companies want to hire candidates with a master’s degree. Of course, there are still good entry-level positions available with an undergraduate degree, but they have a low ceiling. Anyone who wants to get ahead in a career should have a graduate degree.

Graduate School is Expensive

The Economy is Not a Garden of Funding. The old axiom that money doesn’t grow on trees is certainly applicable here. Traditionally, universities have been the major source for scholarships and grants. Two-thirds of PhD and about 20% of master’s students received school funding in the form of scholarships or tuition reductions. In the weak economy of the last few years, though, many scholarships and grants dried up and they have not re-emerged. Employers were another source for help, often offering help with tuition for those employees who wanted to improve their skills. They, too, have pulled back and many of the companies still offering aid target specific courses. The one thing that hasn’t receded is the cost of graduate education. Some stats quote the average total cost for a master’s program at $30,000. The lowest annual state tuition found on the College Tuition Compare Blog is Oklahoma where the median tuition (averaged among 27 schools) is $1740 per year. Of course, that is only tuition and does not include living expenses, fees and books. Colorado’s 34 schools averaged out to $3884. The highest rate on the list is Delaware where the tuition, averaged among 8 schools, is $7682. Total cost for a Top Twenty school can easily top $100,000. Added to that amount is the consideration for missing the 18 months to two years of work it takes to earn a graduate degree.

Is a Master’s degree worth the Money?

Forbes says it is. Although the tuition and consideration of work missed can add up to more than $300,000, an article in Forbes says MBA graduates from the top 57 business schools in the US will earn $2.4 million in salary and bonuses in twenty years. In 40 years, the length of the average career, they will earn $5million to $8million. That means that the $300,000 tuition investment equals less than 5 per cent of their earnings. For the same forty year career, someone with a bachelor’s degree will earn $2.3 million.

Are There any Scholarships or Grants Available?

There is still funding available for students who want to earn a master’s degree. Students will just have to work harder to find it. Of course, it all starts with the FAFSA but, beyond that, there are other places where tuition aid might be hiding. Universities still have some aid available but they are being more selective in who gets it. If a student has great grades and applies early (aid money goes fast) he still has a chance of scoring some grant or scholarship money. Some employers will fund education or at least help with it, for talented people that agree to remain with the company for some time. Another source for aid is specialty scholarships. Sometimes name brand companies like Kraft or Firestone offer scholarships as contest prizes. There are also specialty scholarships available to women and other minorities, for Native Americans or other ethnic groups and for people who qualify under other diversities.

Where Should I Start in Finding Graduate School Tuition?

There are several paths students can follow to find funding.

  • Consider earning a graduate degree in a research field. President Obama recently increased governmental assistance for scientific and technological studies. Because of the explosion in digital data accumulation and management, there are still plenty of funding sources for people getting advanced degrees in technology.
  • Get Schools to Compete for You. Universities are still seeking good students and if you have great (not just passable) grades and a good work record, schools will “bid” to land you. They will often give tuition discounts and may even offer other incentives. Apply to several schools, being candid about your other options, but remember to apply early before funding runs out.
  • Consider newer or less prestigious schools. Although the name on your degree does matter, there are some newer programs that are getting noticed. Degrees from smaller schools are still respected as long as they offer a good education. Choosing a university merely because it is cheap is like buying your degree at the Dollar Tree.
  • Talk to your employer. He may be willing to help pay tuition for valued employees that are willing to contract with the company for a time.
  • Look at needs-based tuition programs offered by some schools. You may have to go to the school and talk to an advisor about this to see what things they take into account in deciding whether students qualify.
  • Plan to Work Part Time. Some schools offer graduate students the opportunity to defray their tuition by working as teaching assistants or in other positions. Many students work at a part-time job or even work at their current positions part-time while they go to school.
  • Consider online degree programs. These degrees can be earned on your schedule. Although there are some “schools” that peddle degree programs, there are also many reputable online schools. Several brick-and-mortar schools have online components as well. The programs may require you to spend some time on campus and also may include a practicum or work experience, but most of the requisites are performed online. Although in general they are less expensive, some online degrees cost the same or more than their traditional counterparts. In deciding which program you want, take into consideration the money saved by not leaving work for two years, by not needing several expensive textbooks and by living in your own home throughout the program. Graduate school tuition is expensive, but it is an investment in your future that can return more than 100 per cent. Funding is scarcer than it has been in the past, but there is still money out there, It just takes more work to find it.

Articles

Why Earning A Graduate School Degree Pays Off?

DateFebruary 05, 2015

Why Earning A Graduate School Degree Pays Off?

Many underachievers have succeeded in creating a comfortable life for a family and their needs. Although it's a trend that has received admirable remarks, it's not the most sensible of ideas. The matter of earning a graduate degree is a popularly discussed topic in modern forums. Here are truths that every career-focused prospect delaying a graduate-level degree should consider.

It's a sensible career pact for anyone who's interested in personal growth. The rewards of becoming a lifelong learner is an asset. With a desire to increase self-awareness, become studious and expand the reservoir of knowledge, a graduate education is a profitable

Continue...

Fellowship Programs

DateFebruary 05, 2015

Fellowship Programs

Many graduate students hope to enter fellowship programs to offset the high costs of obtaining advanced degrees, such as a masters, a doctorate or a professional level credential such as a J.D., M.D. or DVM degree.

An Overview: What is a Fellowship?

Princeton University offers a useful definition of a fellowship: "a type of graduate student support that is awarded to a graduate student to support them in their full time course of study, without the obligation to teach or perform research." Most accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States offer fellowships to students. However, with a few notable exceptions, this form

Continue...