Paying for Graduate School

  • How do I apply for a graduate assistantship?

    A graduate assistantship can assist you with funding your graduate school education. Most assistantships require full time enrollment. To apply for a graduate assistantship, contact the Financial Aid office for more information.
  • What is a graduate fellowship?

    A graduate fellowship can assist you with funding your graduate school education. There are many different kinds of fellowships. Some fellowships are federally funded, some are independently funded and others are institutional fellowships.
  • I can’t afford to make payments on my undergraduate loans while attending graduate school. What should I do?

    When you are enrolled at least half-time in graduate school, you have the option to defer making payments on your Federal undergraduate loans. Contact your lender or servicer to request an in-school deferment.
  • How can I find out who my lender and servicer are for my undergraduate loans?

    The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid. Go to for information on loan amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses and disbursements. Or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center toll-free at (800) 4-FED-AID. http://www.nslds.ed.gov
  • I have loans from undergraduate school. Do I need to complete an entrance counseling session again?

    Federal regulations require that all students who borrow through the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal Graduate PLUS Loan Programs must complete an entrance counseling session. The purpose of loan counseling is to provide information concerning the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, explain your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and provide other helpful information. Be sure to check with your Financial Aid office regarding entrance counseling requirements.
  • I have loans from undergraduate school. Do I need to complete a new Master Promissory Note (MPN)?

    Effective July 1, 2010, all Stafford Student Loans are now Direct Loans being issued by the Department of Education. If you have not completed an MPN for Direct Loans, you will need to do so. If you have already completed an MPN for Direct Loans, you will need to update your information on your MPN to indicate your new school.
  • What is the difference between a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan and a Grad PLUS Loan?

    The main difference between a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan and a Grad PLUS loan is that the Grad PLUS loan requires a credit check while the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan does not. Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans have annual loan limits while Grad PLUS loans do not. Under the Grad Plus loan program you may borrow up to your total cost of attendance minus any other aid you receive. For the 2013-2014 academic year, July 1st through June 30th, the interest rate on a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is 5.41%, and the interest rate on a Grad PLUS Loan is 6.41%.
  • Do you have any suggestions for what I should be doing now to prepare myself for repaying my loans?

    • Prepare a realistic budget and stick to it • Contact your lender or servicer if you have not received repayment information. Effective July 1st, 2010, all new Stafford Student Loans and PLUS Loans are Direct Loans through the US Department of Education. If you have loans prior to July 1st, 2010, you may have a bank as a lender. It is important you know who your lender is. It is your responsibility to make your payments on time. • Open all of your mail Your lender may transfer or sell your loan. It is the responsibility of the lender to notify you if such a transaction occurs. This notification is usually communicated by mail.
  • I am thinking about borrowing from my 401k to pay for my graduate school education. Is this a good idea?

    There are certainly pros and cons to consider if you are thinking about borrowing from your 401k to pay for graduate school. Applying for a 401k loan is usually a very simple process and any interest you pay on the loan goes back to your account. Applying for a student loan is also a simple process and the interest payments you make on your loans may be tax deductible. Interest rates are usually very competitive for 401k loans, even if you have poor credit. The interest on Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate students is 5.41% and does not require a credit check. Some plans do not allow you to contribute to your 401k until the loan is completely repaid. This means you will miss out on any contributions your employer would make to your plan. 401k loans usually have very short repayment terms (5 years) compared to student loan repayment terms which are generally 10 or more years in length. In some cases, a loan against your 401k may need to be repaid in full if you leave your job. Student loan repayment begins after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment status.
  • I am thinking about using a Home Equity Loan to pay for my graduate school education. Is this a good idea?

    If you have significant equity in your home and do not plan to move for a few years, a home equity line of credit might be a reasonable financing option for your graduate school education. However, home equity loans usually have variable interest rates while Federal student loans have fixed interest rates. It is important to consider the terms and conditions of a home equity loan against the terms of conditions of a student loan as there are many advantages and disadvantages.
  • I am trying to decide if I should rent or buy a home?

    If you are planning to stay in the area after graduate school, buying a home might be a good decision. However, renting is usually more cost effective and enables you to more easily relocate after graduate school to find a job in your field of study.
  • What type of insurance do I need for life, disability, etc?

    Your insurance needs in graduate school depend on many things. If you are single, you probably only need to consider health/medical insurance. If you are married and/or have children, you should also consider life insurance and disability insurance. It is important to consider working with a financial planner or insurance agent to fully explore the types of insurance you should carry while enrolled in graduate school.