Digital campaign copy: Five smart strategies for financing your master’s degree

University of Wisconsin-Madison

A master’s can boost your earnings in the long term, but what about paying the bills in the short term? Here are five tips for funding your degree:

    • Choose loans wisely: With low interest rates, federal Stafford and Perkins loans are the building blocks of many financial aid packages, but they might not cover all of your expenses. Private loans are a convenient way to fill the gap but have fewer safeguards than federal PLUS loans, which are designed to pay for grad student necessities like housing and books. When loan shopping, compare origination fees and repayment terms as well as interest rates, and consider all of your financial responsibilities. A private loan might make sense for a renter with a lucrative job offer tied to a master’s, but not someone with kids, a mortgage, and a fuzzier picture of post-degree employment.
    • Claim credit: Trim up to $2,000 from your federal tax bill each year you’re in school with the Lifetime Learning Credit. See if you qualify for this credit or the Tuition and Fees Deduction with the Internal Revenue Service’s education app.
    • Scour scholarship databases: Fastweb and Peterson’s have searchable databases brimming with scholarship opportunities for grad students. Increase your chances of success by applying for scholarships tailored to your career path and distinctive aspects of your personal history.

 

  • Ask your employer to help: Some employers offer tuition assistance or scholarships, but they don’t always advertise them. Ask your human resources department if these perks are available. If the answer is no, show how similar employers use them to recruit and retain top talent.

 

  • Turn expertise into cash: Have strong Spanish skills or a killer SAT score? Find tutoring jobs online or at a local test-prep center. The hours are flexible, and the work can be lucrative. Subject-matter knowledge may also lead to paid mentoring opportunities, writing gigs, and expert witness appearances.

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