A millennial that is debt free? No way! Or wait, yes way!
As we’ve all noticed, the stock market, job market, and overall finances are not the most stable. However, I want you all to know that you can go to grad school debt free!
If you’ve heard the statement “don’t go to grad school unless it’s paid for” you are obviously in a traditional science field. Most grad students rarely receive 100% funding by the university or some other federal or state program. For instance, education students rarely get free money (aka grants and scholarships).
I am very fortunate. I am 100% debt free at this point in my life. For undergrad I was gifted a Virginia 529 plan, so my in-state public school tuition was paid for. My parents graciously paid for housing. I also had a stipend every semester for the President’s Leadership Program at my university. However, for grad school I am on my own as far as paying for it.
UVA offers an educator’s discount, which I am eligible for, and that is currently my only form of “financial aid”. Instead of taking out loans, I save a minimum of $800 a month out of every paycheck. It costs me about $2400 just in tuition and fees each semester (or $1200 per class-I take two classes each term). By splitting it up into $800 increments I’m able to take a reasonable amount of money out of each month’s paycheck.
Now, there is the option to potentially receive work study (be a TA or some other university provided job), receive a variety of grants, and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are money you do not have to pay back; however, you may have to pay taxes on them. Federal grants and work study eligibility are based on income through your FAFSA report. By the time you’re in grad school, your parents’ income does not affect you! You are filing your taxes as an individual instead of a dependent. Now, if you have any stocks, rental properties, etc. that are yours, you still have to claims those on your FAFSA and will end up affecting you.
If you are a member of a sorority, check within your individual sorority, your individual sorority’s local alumnae chapter, and a local panhellenic or pan-hellenic alumnae associations to find out if they offer scholarships. These might be hard to come by, so do not count on this as guaranteed money until you have received notification that you are the recipient.
You can also check to see if your department at your university offers scholarships that are application based and do not come based on information from the FAFSA. This is when it helps to have a great relationship with some of the professors in the department because they will be able to help as mentors for you during the application process.
If you’re in education, you might qualify for the TEACH grant. This is essentially a grant that pays off your student loans. You must be teaching in a low-economic or some other “disadvantaged” school. There are other qualifications like your class ranking from high school, and SAT/ACT score.
What are you in/planning on going to grad school for? Let me know in the comments and we can chat!