Managing Unmet Cost
For many graduate students, their financial aid award will leave them with some amount of unmet cost. Covering this gap often involves combining multiple types of aid. Available resources include private scholarships, Graduate PLUS loans, private loans and student employment. Researching all options will help you determine the best strategy to finance your graduate degree.
4 Steps to Managing Out-of-Pocket Costs
Step 1: Determine out-of-pocket costs.
This step requires you to compare the full amount of your financial aid against your tuition, fees and other expenses. Whatever is left of those expenses after subtracting financial aid is your total out-of-pocket cost. Get an idea of what your bill might be after all aid is paid by using our estimated billing worksheet.
> Estimated Billing Worksheet (Excel document)
Step 2: Consider non-loan options
Before taking out any additional loans, consider your other options.
- Part-time employment: Think about earning money through student employment. Whether it's as part of the formal work-study program or not, part-time jobs can lessen your financial burden. Student Employment can help you find both on- and off-campus job opportunities.
- Tuition payment plans: The Bursar's Office offers a payment plan that splits the cost of tuition each term into two or three payments. The application fee is $20 ($30 for law students). Learn more about payment options through the Bursar's Office.
- Private scholarships: Organizations of all types sponsor college scholarships, and there are several websites that maintain databases to make it easier to find ones that match your strengths. Deadlines vary, but the majority of deadlines fall between early November and mid-July.
Step 3: Determine how much you may need to borrow in credit-based loans
Take the figure you arrived at in step 1 and subtract any non-loan options you plan on using.
Step 4: Research and apply for a credit-based loan
Many students and families seeking additional financing to help cover the cost of attending college will consider a credit-based loan. If you decide a credit-based loan is necessary to finance your education, make sure to carefully research your loan options. You have two supplemental credit-based loan options —the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan and a private education loan.
Note for law students: You are automatically offered a Graduate PLUS loan in your financial aid package up to your total cost of attendance (COA). Since the total amount of your aid cannot exceed your COA, we must reduce your Graduate PLUS loan if you receive any additional scholarships or choose to borrow a private education loan instead (which is not recommended). Learn more about federal vs private loans.
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