10 ways to afford graduate school

1. Get Started Early

When it comes to saving for your graduate education, the earlier you start, the better. By saving in advance, you can take advantage of education savings plans such as the 529 Plan that are designed to help set aside funds for college costs. Enrollment in an education saving plan allows you to make automatic deposits into the fund, receive tax breaks and additional benefits such as matching, grant and scholarship opportunities.

2. Look Local

While national scholarships may offer larger awards, local scholarships tend to be less competitive. Don’t overlook small scholarships. Most cities, counties and states offer scholarships specifically intended for residents. Local businesses may also offer scholarships to residents in their location or to students pursuing studies in particular fields.

3. Community Service

Certain community service organizations offer stipends or education awards in return for service hours. AmeriCorpsLearn and Serve America, and Sponsor Change are all programs that offer loan forgiveness, grants or tuition assistance for students who give back to their community.

4. Work For Your School

Graduate, research and teaching assistantships pay students in the form of a tuition waiver, stipend or both while students gain skills through their work on campus. These positions can help prepare you for future positions in the field while paying for your education. 

5.  Explore Scholarship Opportunities 

There are numerous, free scholarship search engines on the web (Fastwebcareerinfonet.org) that allow you to search for scholarships based on location, field of study, or other criteria. Most universities offer need or merit based scholarships to students.The Office of Financial Aid has more information on available scholarships and the application process.

6 Ask Your Employer

Many employers offer tuition assistance to employees who wish to further their education in their field. Even if your place of employment does not have a formal tuition assistance policy, there may be funds available to help you meet your goals.

7. Apply for Applicable Tax Credits

By returning to school, you may be eligible for certain tax credits designed to help offset the cost of obtaining a higher education.

8. Fellowships

Fellowships give qualified graduate students the opportunity to work in their field while getting tuition assistance. The Festa Leadership Graduate Fellowship allows students to gain real world experience while developing leadership skills. The Diversity Graduate Fellowshipsupports full time students who will be part of the diverse student body at SUNY Oswego.

9. Take Advantage of Federal Loans

Filing a FAFSA form can give students access to loans with lower interest rates.

10. Look into your University’s Payment Plan

Universities may offer students the opportunity to pay each semester’s tuition bill in installments. SUNY Oswego allows students to pay over the course of the semester in five installments.