Myths and Facts about Scholarships

Emily Coleman
Emily Coleman
ELL academic support specialist; Ph.D. candidate in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies with Education concentration
Blue and red background with ‘Scholarship’ coming out of a megaphone.

Myths and Facts about Graduate School Scholarships

Deciding to continue your education post-bachelor’s degree is an exciting time. You have most likely have found your passion in a subject area and want to further your expertise. Graduate degrees not only increase your knowledge on a topic, but they also can open up many new career paths.

However, many people may hesitate when thinking about continuing their education. Many people have student loans that they have acquired during their undergraduate degrees. They may think that there is no way that they can afford to go to graduate school. Most importantly, they do not want to add any more onto their debt that they already owe.

Graduate school may seem out of the realm of possibility because of the financial cost, especially because there are many myths about the type of aid that exists or does not exist for graduate school. It is important for those considering graduate school to research everything related to the possible program and the costs that go along with them.

One of the most common myths out there is that there are only college scholarships for undergraduate programs. Countless people believe that scholarships do not exist for graduate students. Nevertheless, many soon-to-be graduate students are pleasantly surprised by the number of scholarships that are possible for them to receive once they begin researching them. There are scholarships for specific areas of study, there are scholarships just for women, there are scholarships based on ethnic background. The list goes on and on. But the interested student must take the time to find these scholarships and then apply to them.

Another common myth about graduate school scholarships is that they are only need-based. This means that those people who make a certain amount of money may not be qualified for any scholarships. Again, this is not true. No matter what your current salary is, there are scholarships that are not based on your income. Scholarships can be based on your undergraduate grades. Scholarships can be based on your work experience. They can even be based on what you hope to do with the degree after you graduate. The key to finding these scholarships is time. Take the time to learn about the scholarships that are available and then apply to them.

One more myth about graduate scholarships is that once you have started your program you cannot continue to apply for more scholarships. This is not true. You may be required to apply for your scholarship to retain it for the following year. You may also become eligible for additional scholarships after you have started your program. Be aware of due dates and scholarships that you may be able to apply to in the future. Contacting your school’s financial aid department can be very helpful in finding more scholarships for which you should apply.

Ways to Increase Your Chances

Even though there is a plethora of scholarships out there for graduate students, there are still ways to increase your chances of getting one or more. Through your research, you should apply to national scholarship programs as well as local and state-specific scholarships. Statistically, there will be less people applying for local and state scholarships, which will increase your chances of being awarded those scholarships. You may also find that you have more of the qualifications for your local or state scholarships than some of the national scholarships.

Moreover, finding scholarship applications that require essays or projects can increase your chances in winning it. You are able to show why and how you deserve the scholarship more than other candidates. These types of scholarships allow the reader to know you on a more personal level than those applications that just require basic data.

Another great way to afford graduate programs is applying for graduate assistantships. These are not necessarily scholarships, but they often pay for your entire program and offer you a stipend. These require applications and interviews to be awarded one. You apply to different departments in the university that have created specific work positions in their offices. If you are the right fit for them, you will be required to work in the office while you are taking your courses. Graduate assistantships are an amazing way to learn more about the departments on a university campus while they are paying for your graduate degree.

Finally, be sure to reach out to your human resources department if you are currently working and thinking about working while you are seeking your graduate degree. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement for employees who wish to continue their education. Oftentimes, employees do not take advantage of this benefit. Companies and businesses like to see their employees furthering their education. By doing this, it can also lead to more advances in your career within the same company.

Throughout all of these tips, the key to remember is to take the time and do your research. There are many ways for you to go to graduate school and not acquire an enormous amount of debt. Find the scholarships out there that are a great fit for you and continually apply to them. Once you have started your program, don’t stop looking for more scholarships! If you take the time and do your homework on scholarships, there is a high possibility that you will not have to pay for any of your graduate degree.

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