Three Great Ways to Get Free Money For Graduate Students

Finding money for graduate students can seem like a hard task at first site. Here are a few things you will need to know before you start your search.

Educational Grants

Grants may be classified as monetary and non-monetary gifts that do not require any repayment by a student. There are many types of grants available from different sources to include government, large businesses, international organizations, and private foundations. Grants may be awarded based on several criteria, such as academic performance, financial need, or professional achievements. Most, if not all, grants require maintaining a certain GPA and full-time student status. Grants may come in different forms, helping a student to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, research, travel, and some others.

Scholarships for Graduate Students

Scholarships are awards that, similarly to grants, require no repayment to granting institution by a student. Scholarships for students may be based on a wide range of criteria from academic excellence and outstanding achievements to ethnic background and social status. While scholarships vary in the amounts and length, they are all, equally to grants, highly competitive and require a lot of effort to obtain.

Scholarships come from a variety of sources, from government to private. Many schools, especially private universities, issue scholarships to most talented students. Contacting your school for a list of available scholarships is the best starting point for any graduate student seeking free help with funding his or her graduate degree. There is an array of other sources, however, besides university you attend, that offers scholarship search and assistance. A comprehensive online search may help you to come up with a solid list of scholarships for graduate students.

A Guide For Graduate Students Educated Outside the US

Pasad is a software engineer at a high-tech company. He is happy at his company, but knows that a graduate degree will help him advance, plus, his company will reimburse his educational expenses.

Pasad has always been proud of his Bachelors degree in Computer Science from a good school in India. So he was surprised and disappointed that he could not be admitted to the MBA program at a local state school. The reason was that his bachelor’s degree was from a 3-year program in India, not the traditional 4-year degree.

Employees educated outside the US who come into the country for jobs usually have their credential evaluated by private companies. These “job position and experience evaluations” usually show that the employee’s college credits, plus their work experience equal a degree in the US. This evaluation is to obtain a job, only, not to be used to gain admission into a local graduate program.

If you are employed, desire a graduate degree and have been educated outside the US, here are some suggestions for pursuing a US degree:

1) Have your overseas credentials evaluated by an accredited school or agency to see if your degree is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree.

Two ways to obtain that information:

A. Select a college that offers the graduate program you desire and apply.

The college, as part of the admission process, evaluates prior courses and credentials. The advantage: No extra fees for the Foreign Transcript Evaluation. The disadvantage: You may have to complete the entire admission process before getting the results and may be rejected if your undergraduate transcripts show your degree is not U.S. equivalent.

B. Have your credentials evaluated before you apply.

The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, Inc. (NACES) accredits evaluation companies such as Educational Credential Evaluators or World Evaluation Services to perform this service. Most colleges will acknowledge the results by these evaluation companies. The advantage of using a private evaluation service: You will know beforehand if your foreign credentials are U.S. equivalent. The disadvantage: There is a fee attached to this service of approximately $100-$150.

2) Plan to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL is a computer-based test, so results are immediate. Almost all graduate programs require the TOEFL for students educated outside the US. There are several good books and software available to study for the TOEFL. Check the website: toefl.org

3) Plan to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) if applying for the MBA degree or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for non-business degrees: computer science, engineering, psychology, history, biology, etc. Information on taking those tests can be found on these websites: mba.com ; gre.org. Check to see if your chosen college requires these admission tests or another, such as the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

4) Once you have your overseas transcript evaluated and it is declared “US equivalent” and you have taken the TOEFL, the application process to graduate school becomes the same as anyone educated in the US. Colleges will admit you from a combination of several criteria: undergraduate grades (or marks), GRE or GMAT scores, reputation of undergraduate institution, type of major, work experience, written recommendations and other factors.

If your overseas education is not equivalent to US standards, you may have to take courses required for a bachelor’s degree. Several universities, including some online degree programs, offer a Bridge Program for students with 3-year undergraduate degree. Students take 30 units of academic credits to make-up for the fourth year of school, but usually the prerequisites for the Master’s degree are also included.

Pasad found a Bridge program at a university close to his house and is taking his 30 units to be admitted to the MBA program. He found that the Bridge program helped him with his writing skills, communications skills and business skills and the classes were equivalent to the prerequisites he needed.

Organizations for Graduate Student – 5 That Should Be Considered

Graduate students are busy people. They are busy with their coursework. They are busy with their research. They are busy with their thesis. And in some cases they are busy with their family and work life. It is important though that graduate students take time out of their busy schedules to become involved in organizations that will help them while they are graduate students and beyond. Colleges and universities have so many student organizations to choose from that it can be difficult to even narrow down organizations that may be most beneficial to a graduate student and their goals.

While this is definitely not an all inclusive list, here are 5 graduate organizations that students should consider becoming a part of to add to their graduate student experience to help shape and refine them as professionals. This list is no particular order.

#1 Part-Time MBA Association

This organization is dedicated to representing MBA students that go to school on a part-time basis. Students who are earning their MBA on a part-time basis have different concerns than those who are attending a full-time program. This organization acts as the liaison between the students and the college or university. As a member of this organization students are able to take part-time MBA student issues to the school of business administration and its faculty. This organization works for the good of the part-time student body to help improve the quality of the education that they receive, the amount and quality of academic support, and the professional services and advice that students can receive. By joining this group MBA students will find a sense of community among their peers, while continuously trying to improve student relations.

#2 MBA Association

The MBA Association’s goal is to provide a community where graduate students can interact through activities and services that allow their members to grow as students and as professionals in the business world. This group acts as a liaison between current students, Alumni and faculty to help students define their career goals, strengthen their skills, and develop a strong network of professional peers.

#3 Graduates As Parents

According to the Census Bureau the amount of graduate students attending college that are also parents increases by 60 percent each year. By becoming a member of this organization, graduate students will find a community of their peers that are balancing their family life with their school life. Through their peers members can pick up pertinent information regarding daycare, how to balance their lives, tips and trick for the juggling act, etc. With all of the stress that being a parent brings combined with all of the stress that being a graduate students brings, this group will allow students to de-stress their lives by surrounding themselves with like-minded people who are going through the same challenges that they are.

#4 Graduate Student Government

Graduate Student Government works on graduate student’s behalves in the area of student affairs and financial affairs that affect graduate students. This organization is the liaison between graduate students and the university on matters with housing, parking, fees, and transportation. This organization also helps students to learn the ins and outs of running an organization, including problem-solving resolution skills. It also provides a place for students to interact with leaders in the organization and in the school to acquire and foster their leadership skills.

#5 Graduate Students in _____________ (insert specialization here)

Whatever the graduate student’s specialization is, they should also consider joining the graduate student association for their specialization. The goal of these organizations is to provide a community where graduate students specializing in a particular field can interact through activities and services that allow their members to grow as students and as professionals in their field. These groups also act as liaisons between current students, Alumni and faculty to help students define their career goals, strengthen their skills, and develop a strong network of professional peers.

As a Minority Graduate Student, How do I Find a Suitable Advisor or Mentor?

Take a moment to consider what it might be like to function day after day in an environment in which you are “the only one” or, at minimum, one of only a few who represent your particular race, nationality, age group, ethnicity, or gender. In many graduate departments across the U.S. minorities, foreigners and even women often find themselves isolated within an intensely competitive academic environment that provides no cultural understanding or support to assist them in finishing their degree.

Further exacerbating this situation is a shortage of minority faculty role models who can provide a mentoring and support system for like graduate students. A lack of diverse faculty in a department can create a signal of an unwelcoming environment for women and minorities. This may curtail the number of minority students who actually apply to graduate school, and may also contribute to the small percentage who actually complete their degree once they have enrolled. The cycle continues, the next generation of female and minority students will face the similar issues.

During an orientation for admitted students visiting a department at Wisconsin, a black student quipped, “Whew; I’m sure glad there are other white people here. I wasn’t sure when I applied!” Everyone laughed, but his comment proves worthy of mention. Given the current demographics in higher education, there is no guarantee that you(as a female, foreign, or minority student) will meet other students or faculty of color in the graduate department you choose.

The demographics of specific departments can vary greatly. Some may feature far fewer minority students to provide a sense of community of cultural, social, emotional and professional support. If this type of support is critical for your emotional well-being, be sure that to select a department with a critical mass of minority students. For example, if a department admits two minority students each year, and the average time spent in graduate school is six years, there may possibly be 10-12 minority students in the department at any given time with whom you can interact.

A campus visit can actually be quite helpful in reducing the stress about the unknown elements of graduate school. For example, some departments have a collegial working environment, while others are more competitive. Some allow collaboration across; other disciplines others do not. During your visit to the campus, it is not out of line to ask about the number of women and minority students in the department or what level and type of funding is available for minority students. If these types of issues are important to you, it is critical that you complete appropriate due diligence prior to applying.

Many women and minority graduate students are determined to find an advisor who is their same race and/or gender. My advice is to not waste your time trying! Due to the current lack of diversity among academic faculty, the chances of finding one are slim.

Because there are so few of them in academia, female and minority advisors tend to be overwhelmed and overburdened by the extra mentoring responsibilities they are asked to perform … and this is particularly true of minority women! Their workloads can become even more extreme because of additional campus committee duties they may be asked to fulfill because of their race, ethnicity, or gender. For example, the chair of the department may ask them to help diversify a variety of committees on campus. And, while some female and minority faculty might feel a sense of responsibility to mentor minority graduate students, others simply do not. They should still, however, be viewed as key allies; regard these faculty members as reserve mentors rather than as advisors.

Furthermore, keep in mind that race, ethnicity, and gender are simply not the best criterion for selecting an advisor. I chose my advisor because he had a reputation of being culturally sensitive to foreign students and, more importantly, for helping his students complete the program quickly.

Success in graduate school often depends on a successful mentoring relationship between you and your advisor. As such, finding a faculty member with similar research interest is critical to finishing your degree, and far more important than finding a faculty member who matches your gender and/or race.

Scholarships For Graduate Students

Scholarships for graduate students will enable you to get education without paying. To get a scholarship, you will need to look into the different options. There are both foreign and local ones. You should be able to choose what you want and what you can easily get.

You can get the right connection by associating yourself with the right persons. You have to look for the right contacts. You will get the details in the internet as well as the ads in the magazines. If you belong to a given club in the church or even at school, get involved in the interactive sessions.

Scholarships for graduate students will help you to keep up with the progress in your education. You have to consider the various facts that will affect if you take a scholarship. You have to understand that some of the companies that will pay your scholarship have to ask for allegiance.

You are even asked to sign for a contract in some cases. You will gain a higher class if you obtain the degree and you will be in a position to get more money.

When you are looking for a scholarship, you should know that there are many people who want the same. The saddest thing is that there are a lot of funds that go unused because interested people who need the funds are not able to access them.

You should get the details about your academic life right. Many scholarships have very strict requirements and you should know there are many factors that can be used to determine whether you can get the funds or not.

Scholarships for graduate students come in different types. You can take the one that fits you. You have to make an informed research that will give you the inner details about the funds.