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Financing Graduate School at
Kent State University

 

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How to Keep Costs in Check When Financing Graduate School

It’s no secret that graduate school is a big investment. However, about 9 in 10 graduate students believe that getting a graduate degree is an important investment in themselves and their future. Career growth and higher salaries remain the primary reasons that drive people back to school.

In fact, as the job market recovers, many students and professionals are entering graduate programs to boost their credentials and become more competitive in the workforce.

That said, the desire to attend graduate school is often quickly followed by the question — how will I pay for it?

The good news is that there are a lot of funding options available at the graduate level. In fact, most graduate students use some kind of financing plan to help cover their expenses.

Here is a quick look at some of the most common sources of graduate school funding:

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borrow money through loans.

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are gifted grants, scholarships or other tuition assistance.

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use income from outside employment.

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use earning from on-campus employment.

Whatever financial path you take, the most important tool for your success is to have a plan. Let’s explore your options when it comes to financing graduate school so that you can make a plan to achieve your goals.

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How to Finance Your Graduate School Education Instead

Do Your Research: Types of Financial Aid for Graduate School

When it comes to receiving financial aid, there are two main categories: gift aid and self-help aid. Many students utilize multiple types of aid, making it important to research all the opportunities that might be available to you.

Gift Aid: Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships are given based on academic or other achievement to support a student’s education. Some scholarships are awarded by the institution you are attending, while others can come from private sources.

Begin your scholarship search by reaching out to the academic department for your major. Talk to friends, family, academic advisors, admissions counselors and financial aid advisors. Search for scholarship opportunities outside of Kent State University. Businesses and industry groups in your major or career field may offer scholarships. Register with a free and reputable scholarship search service. Investigate all prospective aid resources or sponsors of aid as soon as you identify them. Looking for free money for college is going to take as much time, energy and effort as a part-time job, but it's worth it!

Pro-Tip: We’ve created a Scholarship Search Checklist to help guide you along the way!

Grants are financial awards that do not need to be repaid. Grants are generally given to support a particular project or purpose. Kent State University participates in these grant programs outlined on our website.

Self-Help Aid: Assistantships, Loans and Work Study

Graduate Assistantships provide graduate students with a stipend, tuition remission and the opportunity to enroll in the university’s partially subsidized student health insurance plan. They provide students with training and valuable professional experience in higher education work environments.

A full-time assistantship is 20 hours of work per week, which typically covers the full cost of tuition.

At Kent State, there are three types of assistantships, which are:

Teaching assistants assist faculty with instructional responsibilities or serve as the principal instructor of one or more courses. Duties may include meeting with students; administering tests or exams; grading homework or exams; teaching recitation, laboratory or discussion sessions; and teaching lecture courses.

Research assistants work in laboratories and other settings to assist faculty on research projects. Duties vary by discipline and program, but generally include data collection, entry, and analysis; attending conferences to present results; and training and supervising less experienced research personnel. Research assistantships are generally funded by institutions external to Kent State University (e.g., Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation).

Administrative assistants work with the administrative staff of a department/school, college or office to assist in the operations of the university. Duties vary widely, but may include gathering, organizing, and analyzing information; giving formal presentations; implementing and evaluating programs; academic advising; career counseling; and leadership development.

 

How can I find an assistantship? We recommend contacting the graduate coordinator in your program's department in order to inquire about assistantship opportunities available in the academic department.

Loans are a type of funding that must be paid back with interest. Other borrower benefits to help borrowers may continue.

Loans can also come from nonfederal, or private, sources. Private loans provide students with additional funding for unmet college expenses that federally subsidized loans don’t cover. Remember that private student loans are not federally subsidized and interest rates vary depending on the borrower’s credit worthiness.

Work study is a way to earn an income while working for the university. Graduate students who are not offered a graduate assistantship may inquire with One Stop for Student Services regarding eligibility for Federal Work Study (FWS). Graduate students can look for student employment for either FWS-funded or university-funded positions by utilizing Handshake where we post available positions.

Need-to-Know Tips for Navigating the FAFSA Application

Many graduate students don’t realize that they are eligible for federal aid. The free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Even if you didn’t receive aid during undergrad, you might still qualify for financial aid in graduate school.

Kent State University’s Financial Aid Process

  1. Complete the FAFSA. This must be done every year to maintain aid. We recommend filing by Feb. 1 for maximum benefits.

  2. Receive Student Aid Report. Both you and the university will receive a report detailing your eligibility for federal student aid.

  3. Financial Aid Awarded Based on FAFSA Results. Kent State will review your FAFSA results to determine how much aid you're eligible to receive.

  4. Receive e-Bill and Review Financial Aid Options. Financial aid for graduate school is typically awarded by March each year.

Free Applications for Fall 2021! 
Kent State's Office of Graduate Admissions is offering free applications for domestic students planning to start school in Fall 2021. If you submit your application during this time, the application fee will be automatically waived.

Craft a Remarkable Graduate School Application — learn more today!

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Kent State University’s Graduate Student
Financial Aid Checklist

Start advancing at Kent State by completing this checklist.

☑Begin a Comprehensive scholarship search using these tools:

  • Scholarship Search Checklist
  • KSU Scholarship Search
  • Student Financial Aid Scholarship Application
  • Outside scholarship search engines
☑ Check with Graduate Studies and your college to find major-specific scholarship opportunities.
☑ Explore Graduate Assistantship opportunities.
☑ Check your Kent State email address regularly for important information from the One Stop for Student Services.
☑ Review the Student Financial Aid website for detailed financial aid information.

☑Ensure you are meeting the Standards of Academic Progress to receive federal financial aid.

☑ View current direct costs to attend Kent State University, which include:

☑ Consider attending a financial aid workshop or watching our recorded event with the University Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid.

Learn more about budgeting and how to stay on track with your finances.

☑ If this is your first time completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). Students pursing graduate degrees are considered independent for FAFSA purposes and do not require parent information on the FAFSA. The FSA ID will serve as an electronic signature on the FAFSA.

→ If you have completed a FAFSA in the past, you do not need to create a new FSA ID. Visit the studentaid.gov website to confirm your FSA ID and password.

Applying for Financial Aid

You’ve done your research, now it’s time to actually apply for financial aid! Here are the steps to follow.

☑ File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)to be considered for federal and state financial aid programs. Students are encouraged to file as soon as possible beginning Oct. 1, for early FAFSA processing and awarding. To ensure maximum eligibility, complete the FAFSA no later than Feb. 1.

☑ View a collection of helpful videos on the FAFSA and financial aid.

☑ View any outstanding financial aid requirements on FlashLine.

☑ If requested, complete the verification process prior to receiving federal financial aid.

☑ If your information submitted on the FAFSA is no longer an accurate representation of your current financial situation, consider completing a Special Circumstance Application.

Complete enrollment plans on the Resources/Additional Information tab in FlashLine to receive your financial aid award.

☑ If you plan to enroll at Kent State University for the summer semester and would like to use your financial aid, view how it may be adjusted for the academic year.

View Your Financial Aid Awards

☑ Begin viewing your financial aid awards beginning mid-March in FlashLine.

☑ Review Terms and Conditions of receiving financial aid on FlashLine.

Take Action on Your Financial Aid Awards

☑ Accept any awarded institutional scholarships in "offered" status from Kent State University on FlashLine.

Report outside scholarships, awards and other tuition assistance you are bringing to Kent State University on the Resources/Additional Information tab in FlashLine.

☑ Loans are funds that must be repaid; only borrow what you need after careful consideration. If borrowing federal student loans:

☑ If borrowing a private/alternative student loan, compare lender options and apply through ELM Select, or through an education lender of your choice.

Review Your Final Steps

☑ Notification of your invoice will be sent to you by email in July for fall semester and in December for spring semester. If you are attending summer, invoices will be sent to you by email in April. The invoice will list your actual expenses as of that day.

Visit the One Stop for Student Services website for detailed billing, payment and due date information.

☑ Review information on student refunds.

5 Non-Traditional Graduate School Funding Options

Sometimes, funding your degree and covering your expenses just takes a little creativity. When making your graduate school funding plan, be sure to look into unexpected income sources to help cover the costs of graduate school — they may even offer a break from academic life.

1. Freelance Writing

Writing is a common need among many businesses, and they will often reach out to freelancers on an as-needed basis. While writing is a popular freelance avenue, there are also opportunities such as social media consulting, graphic design, digital marketing or virtual assistant. The great thing about freelancing is that it can work around your existing schedule.

2. Dog walking

If you’re an animal lover, finding a base clientele of dogs to walk or other pets to care for can provide a consistent income stream. Many dog owners work 9-5 jobs and need someone reliable to come and take their dog for a walk midday.

3. House Sitting

Some people like the idea of having someone living in their home while they are gone to ensure they don’t come home to any unattended surprises. As an added perk, house sitting gives you a quiet place to study while earning some cash.

4. Food Delivery

By driving for Postmates, Uber Eats, DoorDash or Grubhub, especially in a college town, you will likely have no shortage of work. A great aspect of this job is that you make your own hours — even if you only have a couple of hours here and there.

5. Tapping Into Your Hobbies

Do you have a hobby that you could share with others? Perhaps you love yoga, ceramics or soccer. Look into teaching community classes or coaching a local youth sports team. These activities give you a chance to take a break from coursework while doing something you love.

For more ideas, check out our blog post: 
7 Side Hustles to Help You Finance Graduate School!

Ready to apply but still have questions for us?
Reach out today by requesting more information!

How I Financed Graduate School: A Kent State Student Shares His Experience

morgan-chaneyTell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Morgan Chaney. I’m 33 years old, and I grew up in Fairborn, Ohio.

What graduate program are you pursuing at Kent State? When do you anticipate to graduate?

I am in the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program, and my concentration in Human Evolutionary Biology. I hope to graduate in 2022.

What was the most challenging or eye-opening aspect of your program?

The most eye-opening experience for me, and probably many other grad students, is how independent graduate school really is. Sure, you have an advisor who helps, directs and mentors you; however, grad students in my program are expected to really “drive the bus” for their project, or side projects, more than they initially think.

How is Kent State preparing you to achieve your long-term career goals?

The support I receive from everyone around me has been the primary thing that has enabled most of my success here. Administrators, staff and faculty have all been extremely helpful every step of the way, almost without exception.

When considering how to finance graduate school, did you take advantage of any scholarships, grants or loans? Tell us about that research/application process.

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a David B. Smith scholarship and a University Fellowship through the Kent State Division of Graduate Studies. I’ve also had some sort of assistantship the whole time I’ve been here, and I’ve taken advantage of temporary paid positions on the Graduate Student Orientation (GSO) team and with the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) executive board. All of those opportunities are only offered to Kent State grad students, and they really have enriched my experience here.

Other than financial aid, how did you go about budgeting and/or changing your lifestyle to offset the cost of graduate school

My wife and I completed our first year of grad school with a total household income of $16,000 before taxes. To balance our spending with our income, we really just sat down and drew out a balanced budget. Importantly, we kept an eye on that budget and adjusted it from week to week until it actually worked. The first budget you draw up is very seldom the one that you end up sticking with for the long term.

Aside from planning what we would spend every week, we always made sure to put a little away in our savings account just in case something unexpected happened. Putting even small amounts of money away every week — even something like $20 — adds up over time.

Did you participate in a paid graduate assistantship or internship? If so, tell us about that experience.

Yes, I’ve had teaching assistantships the whole time I’ve been here. I’ve taught undergraduate courses at the Kent Campus, and I’ve assisted with human anatomy courses at the Kent State College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence. Through teaching those courses, I’ve really learned more than I ever could have as a student. Teaching a subject not only requires that you know it well, but it actually facilitates better learning as well.

Having steady teaching positions has also allowed me to exercise my time management skills as I often have to switch between several disparate tasks within any given workday. That skill is super important for any academic professional to cultivate, and I’ve gotten better and better with it during my time here.

Lastly, what is your best piece of advice for financing graduate school at Kent State (especially for future students who are concerned about cost)?

As soon as you can, draw up a budget. Stick to it as well as you can, but don’t be discouraged if you have to revise it several times before it really works. It really is an empowering feeling when you have a balanced budget and don’t have to worry about money every day or check your bank account before every purchase.

 

Transform Your Future with a Graduate Degree — Connect With Us!

At Kent State, we want to make attending graduate school enriching and affordable. Our flexible programs and financing options take the stress out of planning for school and allow you to focus on achieving your goals.

Connect with us today and let us help you get the most out of your graduate school experience.

Don’t forget! For the rest of the academic year, Kent State's Office of Graduate Admissions is offering free applications for domestic students planning to start school in spring, summer or fall 2021. If you submit your application during this time, the application fee will be automatically waived.

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