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Can you get financial aid for graduate school?

The pandemic has led many to question their career paths, for those looking to go back to school, the idea of accumulating more debt can be a barrier for many.

The pandemic has led many to question their career paths, for those looking to go back to school, the idea of accumulating more debt can be a barrier for many.

Many across the country are contemplating their acceptances to graduate school and one question that could make a serious impact as to whether or not they go is: How much is this going to cost me?

The US Department of Education has reported that the average graduate student graduates with around $84,300 in debt, but the number varies on the program and academic field. Around sixty-percent of those who receive a Master's or a Doctorate take on student debt to complete their studies. However, for those looking to continue their education, there are multiple avenues when it comes to accessing financial aid to help cover the living costs and tuition.

Department Scholarships and Teaching Assistant

Many institutions will offer departmental scholarships depending on their academic performance, experience, and financial need. When submitting your application it is important to highlight your academic record and work experience as to increase your chances of receiving a scholarship. 

Many graduate students are offered roles as teaching or research assistants for which they are paid or offered reductions in tuition. Working as a teaching assistant can be helpful to those interested in pursing a career as a professor as many colleges and universities prefer to hire academics with teaching experience. 

The financial assistance distributed by the department should be available on the website.

Outside Scholarships

There are thousands of scholarships for graduate students to apply to based on their background and the degree they are hoping to receive. Many departments will encourage students to apply for outside funding and may offer a list of scholarships that students in that program have applied for and received as a guide.

Employer Sponsorships

Many businesses and organizations offer programs that help to cover the cost of tuition for workers. In most cases this does require that a person work while attending school, which may not be possible for all. However for those who would be interested in getting a program to increase their pay or professional opportunities at a certain workplace, it could be a helpful way to reduce debt. 

Before accepting a job, some experts advise job seekers to ask about these sorts of benefits or try to negotiate the possibility into their contract. Additionally, while some companies may not pay for employees to go back to school, some offer debt forgiveness programs based on the number of years they work at the company. This can help borrowers cut down on the amount of debt they owe more quickly.

Student Loans

The federal government will offer loans to those looking to continue their education, but for those with undergraduate debt, adding to that total is a non-starter.

Will President Biden forgive student loan debt?

Many with debt are calling for major reform to the student loan system in the United States as the level of debt accumulated surpasses levels unseen before. Last year, President Biden called upon the US Department of Education to examine whether the president has the authority to cancel student debt. It seems that the Department has finalized their review but the White House has not yet released the findings.

In the meantime, over eighty lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have called on the President Biden to cancel $50,000 worth of student loan debt for individual borrowers.

If this amount of debt were to be forgiven it would account for around eighty-percent of the total debt accumulated. The White House has responded to these calls by saying that the President would be happy to sign a law if Congress passes one that includes these measures. However, these leaders see such a response as a failure to make good on a campaign promise. Throughout the hotly contested 2020 Presidential Election, then candidate-Biden said that he would forgive at least $10,000 of student debt, which helped to galvanize support among younger voters.

When has the student debt moratorium been extended to?

In December, the White House did announce that the student debt moratorium would be extended to 1 May, but it is unclear whether the President will use his authority to extend the deadline even further.

When making this announcement, President Biden asked "all student loan borrowers to do their part as well: take full advantage of the Department of Education’s resources to help you prepare for payments to resume." This language does not send the message the Administration is considering high amounts of cancellation at this time.


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