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How Does Financial Aid Differ for Graduate Students?

The graduate financial aid process is a little different than what students are used to for undergrad. Here are the quick answers to what you need to know.

Joan Isaac MohrJoan Isaac Mohr
Vice President and Dean of Admissions

Quinnipiac University
The financial aid process for undergraduate students centers around two forms: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. All colleges will want the FAFSA (available only to US citizens and permanent residents); some will also want the CSS Profile. There are several types of aid: scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. For graduate study, it generally depends on the program and university chosen and whether they offer grants or scholarships to graduate students. Students will file the FAFSA and in many cases a supplemental form from the universities where they’ve been admitted.

Silhouette icon of a person sitting at a desk with a laptopDonald C. Martin
Author and Enrollment Expert
Cost will always be an important consideration before entering grad school, especially since you will likely be considered an "independent" student for financial aid purposes. It’s helpful if you have at least one year of grad school tuition “in the bank” before you enroll. You should also know exactly what your graduate program will cost, as well as how you will be paying for it. Make sure you know what financial aid you can receive, including loans, scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, work-study, etc. Do some financial planning. You might consider meeting with a financial advisor or with trusted family and/or friends. If you have a spouse or serious partner, they should be a part of the conversation as well. Cover all your financial bases—don’t leave anything to chance, and don’t waste time applying if you haven’t planned for the financial responsibilities you’re about to assume.

Get more expert advice to prepare for your grad program with our other Graduate School—Ask The Experts posts!

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