Can I Still Find Graduate Funding for Fall 2024?

Jul 08, 2024

Dr. Vicki Johnson, a mid-age white American woman with straight brown hair and a green blouse. She is a graduate school admissions expert. The words, Ask Dr. Johnson are on the left-hand side.

Dear Dr. Johnson,

I was accepted to a 2-year Master’s program at a California private university with a $20K scholarship. I have to raise $50K for the rest of the 2024/25 academic year cost, my first year. I applied for a private loan which has not materialized yet despite their last communication of my eligibility for a $50K loan. SallieMaeEdLoan, on the other hand, is ready to grant me the whole $98K needed for my 2-year graduate program, but a cosigner is needed for the loan, which is risky for my parents. The semester begins this Fall 2024, just 2 months away. Is it possible to get funding or a scholarship for my graduate program within 2 months?

– Indebted

From Dr. Vicki Johnson:

First, congratulations on your acceptance to graduate school and scholarship! This is an exciting accomplishment. However, before starting in Fall 2024, calculate the full cost of attending graduate school and determine if it is a worthwhile investment. There are huge financial consequences to taking out large student loans while being out of the workforce for 2 years. Sometimes in the excitement, candidates don’t fully consider the long-term impacts of student loans and their other options.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to apply for external graduate fellowships (awards offered by non-profits, foundations, and government agencies) that would start immediately in Fall 2024. Typically the deadlines for graduate fellowships are between October and March for funding that begins the following academic year.

Before signing the dotted line for loans, ask Admissions if you’re still being considered for funding. Admissions must be made aware of your financial need. There may be more funding available from the university now if other accepted applicants have declined their offer. Ask often and be very clear that you cannot afford to enroll without additional funding from the university.

You should also ask Admissions about the availability of Graduate Assistantships. Graduate Assistantships are part-time research and teaching jobs exclusively for graduate students that provide full or partial tuition coverage and a living stipend. They are the primary source of full funding for graduate students, but not all universities have Assistantships.

If you have exhausted these options, be sure to do the math of the financial impacts of a $98K student loan. While it can be “easy” to get a large student loan with a co-signer, for a loan of this size, you will be facing a monthly payment of $1,000 to $2,000 per month for a decade or more after your degree. Can you afford this amount in student loan payments? Don’t assume your graduate degree will result in a significantly higher salary to cover this cost. Even if it does, all the gains you make may be wiped out by your student loan burden.

Also, once you take out student loans, there aren’t grants and fellowships to pay down loans. Many students who start a graduate program without a viable plan to pay for the full duration of their studies end up dropping out. A student loan for an unfinished degree is the worst-case scenario.

If you’re not able to achieve funding for your first year, you should consider deferring for a year. That would give you more time to apply for external fellowship awards. Even better, you can also apply this fall to other Master’s programs that offer Graduate Assistantships (or fully funded PhD programs if you are eligible). Sign up to use the free profellow.com database to browse and bookmark Master’s Fellowships and Fully Funded Master’s and Fully Funded PhD programs.

I hope this is helpful. Best of luck to you!

 

Dr. Vicki Johnson is the Founder and Director of ProFellow, the world’s leading online resource for professional and academic fellowships. She is a four-time fellow, top Ph.D. scholar, Fulbright recipient, and an award-winning social entrepreneur. She is the creator of the Fully Funded Course and Mentorship Program, which helps graduate school applicants enter top graduate schools with funding awards. 


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