Grants, Scholarships, and Fellowships
No matter what you call it, if you score one of these, you'll get free money for graduate school. While some states primarily offer need-based financial aid for graduate school, others—including Ohio, Kansas, and Arkansas—offer merit-based financial aid to prospective students with a proven undergraduate record. The budget for state-funded graduate school scholarships varies tremendously from state to state, and many states include restrictions such as specific programs of study, required research or travel, or awards may be reserved for minority students only. Some states such as New York, New Jersey, and Oklahoma also offer memorial scholarships to prospective graduate students directly affected by national tragedies.
Do your homework and you could wind up with a lower interest rate than you would get if you took out federal loans for graduate students. In an effort to curb local worker shortages, many states offer low or no interest graduate school loans as well as loan forgiveness programs for students in certain professions, with teaching, nursing, and health care being the most common. In exchange for getting a break on graduate school, students who take advantage of these programs are expected to work a certain number of years within the state upon matriculation.
In addition to financial aid awards, a few states also offer funding for military personnel as well as spouses and dependents of military personnel. While some states restrict aid only to those who have served or are currently in active duty, others consider reservists eligible as well.For more information on what types of financial aid for graduate school are offered in your state, contact your local board of higher education.