After graduating from college, continuing education through a graduate school is an excellent option for many. Perhaps you want to become more competitive in the job market, desire to explore a new field, or even move to a higher pay grade. Regardless of why you want to go to graduate school, the how can be decidedly more complicated.
Is Graduate School Right for Me?
There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. While four-year degrees are satisfactory for many majors and careers, other fields may highly encourage or require grad school to achieve career goals, particularly in specific areas such as law, medicine, or engineering.
Start by evaluating the leverage a graduate degree will give you in your career and life goals. This evaluation is based on personal preference alone. The objective “right choice” may not apply to you in this case.
What are your long-term career goals?
If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor, attending medical school isn’t a recommendation; it’s a requirement. If your goal is to open your own business, however, grad school may be less necessary.
Why do you want to go to grad school?
Is it something you desire, or is it something someone else told you that you had to do? Check-in with your intentions. If you are looking at graduate school to postpone deciding your future career, that is an expensive way to halt a critical life decision.
What will the impact be on your income?
Is the income boost large enough to counterbalance any new student loan debt you may incur?
How Do I Fund Graduate School?
If you want to go to grad school, there are many ways to fund the degree. These include:
- Any financial savings that you have which you can put towards graduate school.
- Use this LendKey resource to find scholarships related to your career.
- Build professional credentials without having to take out further loans.
- Federal Financial Aid. Ensure you fill out your FAFSA form to see what resources are available to you.
- Private Student Loans. If federal student loans alone are not an option, look into getting a private student loan. While private lenders will consider your credit, you may be able to cover the full cost of your graduate school tuition with a private student loan. If your credit score is not great, consider asking a family member or friend to cosign.
What If I Need to Take Out a Loan?
For many people, taking out student loans isn’t just the easiest way to pay for graduate school, but it can also be the most practical.
Federal student loans for graduate students. Remember that the FAFSA, itself, is not a loan; it merely determines your aid eligibility. As a bonus, this may help you find scholarships and grant opportunities, too. Be sure to pay attention to the list of federal, college, and state deadlines on the FAFSA website.
Private student loans for graduate students. Private student loans are another way to fill gaps that may exist in your other sources of funding. You get them via banks, credit unions, and similar financing sources, and you can generally apply at any time of the year.
What Type of Loan Is Best For Me?
A significant advantage of federal loans is that they don’t require a credit check. The only exception to this is a Parent PLUS loan. This credit check is only to ensure that there is no adverse credit history. You will get the same rates and consideration as anyone else.
Unlike undergraduate federal loans, subsidized loans are not an option for graduate school. They’ll accrue interest while you’re in school (unless you pay interest each month), resulting in a higher overall level of debt by the time you start repayment. Additionally, there is a cap on Federal direct unsubsidized loans that you’ll have to manage.
If you have a high credit score or know someone with a high credit score that would be willing to cosign for you, you may secure better interest rates through private student loans. Even if you didn’t consider private loans to be an option for your undergraduate education, if you’ve developed a good credit history, depending on the lender, it might be a better fit for your graduate school financing needs. After taking the time to build credit, your credit score can assist you in many ways.
Private loans, however, may require you to make payments while you are still in school. Most federal loans don’t require you to begin paying them back until you’ve graduated. Making payments while you’re still in school can be a great way to lower your debt and start you out in a better position once you graduate.
The Road to Higher Education Goes On
In the end, it’s important to remember that graduate school is an individual choice – and a highly personal one. In whatever decision you choose, move forward as financially and professionally responsible as you can.
At LendKey, our partner lenders are proud to offer private student loans with both fixed and variable interest rates to graduate students. There are no application fees, and you potentially may not even need a co-signer – although having someone sign with you could help your chance of being approved and securing a better rate. They’re easy to apply for and even easier to manage, all in the name of allowing you to achieve your dreams of higher education cost-effectively.
If you’d like to learn more about the financial implications of going to graduate school, or if you have any additional questions about our private student loans – contact LendKey today.