Graduate degrees can offer professionals a path to growth and development. While online certificate courses and diplomas can be a great way to boost specific skills and competencies, an advanced degree often demonstrates a commitment to learning and expertise. Degree programs can be expensive, so finding sustainable ways to fund your education is essential. Here are a few possibilities to consider:
Employer tuition reimbursement
Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs that enable employees to pursue an advanced degree. The company will pay for all or part of the degree program while employees focus on the course and work on their skills. In some cases, you may pay the tuition upfront and receive a reimbursement from the office later. Unfortunately, not all companies offer such programs, and even the ones that do may have strict eligibility criteria. For instance, the program may only be available to people employed at the company for five years or more, the course may need to be work-related, or you may be able to study part-time only, meaning the degree would take longer.
Just like undergraduates, graduate students are eligible for financial aid. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can give you access to federal student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Once you fill out the form, contact your prospective schools’ financial aid office to find out if you need to provide any more information or fill out additional forms. Each school you’re accepted to will send you a financial aid package letting you know which loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities you’re eligible for. Packages will differ by school. Even if the financial aid package you receive doesn’t cover all of the tuition and fees, it can still significantly reduce your financial burden.
If you’ve saved enough over the years, consider paying for all or part of your graduate degree using your cash reserves. Your savings can enable you to pay tuition outright instead of taking out student loans, thus saving money on interest in the long-term. Think carefully about how much of your savings it makes sense to use – you’ll want to leave yourself a safety net.
A permanent life insurance policy can be an option for financing a graduate degree. Permanent life insurance, like whole life insurance, comes with a cash value component that accumulates over time. If you have a permanent life insurance policy that’s accumulated enough cash value, you can utilize that cash value to pay for all or part of an advanced degree.