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Attending graduate school can most definitely make a positive impact on your future or current career. It is also very expensive and can lead to massive student loans. Students therefore are always looking for funding sources to help pay for school that they don’t need to pay back. Taking some time now to research your options can save you tens of thousands of dollars of future student loan payments. Here are some places to consider when researching scholarships and funding grad school.

Check with your current employer

Many companies offer some level of tuition reimbursement or assistance. This can be a great source of funding. This is especially true if your employment is somehow related to your field of study. Many employers offer tuition assistance only if the field of study has some relationship to the job you are currently doing or the industry you are currently in. There may be requirements that you maintain a certain grade average. In many cases, you may not get the funding until after you have taken those classes and can show your final grade for the class. This means that you may be using your tuition assistance from your employer to pay back some of the loan amount you used to pay for the class.

Fellowships, assistantships or other scholarships

Some schools offer fellowships, assistantships or their own scholarship for their graduate programs – Be sure to discuss your financial aid needs extensively with your prospective graduate schools. The schools themselves can be the greatest source of college funding. Some schools offer fellowships, which can involve a partial or complete tuition waiver, sometimes in exchange for a commitment to aid in research for the school. Assistantships are similar. They provide a partial or complete tuition waver, in exchange for assisting school faculty with research or teaching. In addition to this, most schools offer some level of scholarship assistance. It’s very important to understand all of the financial aid offered by all of the schools you are interested in attending, so that you understand the actual cost of attending that school. A school with a higher tuition might actually end up cheaper than other schools because of the financial aid packages they offer.

Searching for scholarships

Search for Scholarships in the same places you searched for your undergrad degree – Yes, unfortunately this means filling out more long scholarship applications and writing more essays. There are several websites to help you search for potential scholarships. Research service clubs in your area, such as the Lions, Rotary and Freemasons to see what kinds of scholarships they offer. Check with businesses in your area – especially those that are in your field of study – and see if they offer any scholarship opportunities.

Researching and finding scholarships and other ways to help pay for college can be very tedious and time-consuming. Yet for many students it’s important to spend that time and do that research. Grad school can certainly help you go farther in your future career. For many, it is a necessity for their particular career path. Yet student loans, next to home purchases, tend to be the biggest expense of young people entering the workforce. It’s worth some time and effort now to reduce those future student loans.