Financing Graduate Degrees

By Prodigy Finance (AIGAC Sponsor)

Graduate degrees are investments. Every applicant knows it before they shortlist schools and contact admissions advisors. But, that doesn’t mean they have any idea where they’ll find the funds to pay for their education.

Different Types of Financing Are Available

There are a surprising number of ways to pay for graduate degrees, no matter how much that education costs.

  • Savings and personal credit – There are (however few) applicants sitting on a pile of savings. More common, however, are the students still battling their undergrad debt. While personal (or family) savings make a small dent in the anticipated budgets of many students, this step makes it possible to see what other finances are needed.
  • Scholarships, bursaries, and grants – Even when an applicant has plenty of savings, free money always relieves pressure. Finding the right scholarships takes time, as do the applications. But, these funds can make or break a budget and students shouldn’t wait until the last minute to look for opportunities.
  • Family or personal loans – Students comfortable approaching family members may be able to borrow from them. Keep in mind that every government regulates personal loans or financial gifts in some manner. It’s crucial that students investigate and consider the ramifications before accepting any money. Ignoring the legal aspects can jeopardize the financial future of everyone involved.
  • Government loans – Some countries make it easy for students by offering subsidized loans. Often, these are available to citizens even for international graduate degrees. It depends on the university and the government in question, but it is an option for some students.
  • Private loans – The majority of students worldwide look towards private lenders to secure the funds they need. Some banks require collateral; others will not offer funds to international students – even at a graduate level.

Where to Send Students for Information

Wading through all the options and weighing different opportunities takes time. It’s stressful, and it can be confusing. But, unless you have a qualification or license to do so, you can’t provide your clients with financial advice.

You can, however, show them where to find more information.

  • Universities – Financial aid offices are a wealth of information for students. Schools often include admitted students on a database for financial aid as soon as they accept their position. University websites also provide information on preferred lenders and where to search for scholarships. Applicants can usually tap into these resources before admissions.
  • Banks – Even if a grad student only qualifies for a single loan product, considering more than one option allows for comparison and a deeper understanding of the right questions to ask before accepting any loan.
  • Government resources – In countries where the government offers loans to students, this will likely be the starting point for financial assistance. Countries without federal loan schemes sometimes offer scholarships or loans for study towards needed skills. Students considering loans from family or friends should consult the tax division of the government for regulations on interpersonal loans.
  • Educational loan providers – While not available everywhere, there are also lenders who work specifically with educational loans, such as CommonBond in the United States. International students can also take a look at Prodigy Finance for information on loans for qualified students studying abroad.

And, although you cannot provide financial advice to your clients, you may want to let them know that an early start is often the best way to secure scholarships. And, at the very least, it’s usually the best way to ensure on-campus housing is available and visa applications aren’t rushed. Then it’s back to reviewing personal statements and studying for the GMAT or GRE.

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