Paying for Graduate School

Find out how much graduate school costs and how to afford it

If you want to continue your higher education with a graduate degree, there are several things to consider. Specifically, before you decide on a university or apply for a private graduate student loan, you'll need to examine the average cost of attending graduate school. Keep in mind that costs may vary between private and public universities, by academic year, location, and degree programs. While it's important to consider the strength of program in your field of study, the location of the school, the faculty and the campus culture, it's also critical you be able to afford your education. We'll outline how much you could be paying for graduate school on average so you can better compare the cost of tuition and financial aid packages from your potential schools.

How much does graduate school cost?

The cost of grad school will vary based on the year you are applying as well as the program and university you choose. Keep in mind as you're making plans, the price of graduate school is expected to rise throughout the years, so the tuition you start with may not be what you're paying toward the end. Below are a few examples to help you get a better sense of how much grad school could cost based on figures available to students applying for the 2014-2015 academic year:

  • Master's Degree: According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), in 2012, the average cost for a year of graduate school (considering both public and private schools) was $15,787.
  • MBA: In 2013 the total average cost for a two-year MBA program was more than $100,000, with Ivy League schools charging over $120,000.
  • Med school: According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in 2013-2014 the average tuition for resident students* at a public medical school was $27,682, and the average tuition for resident students at a private medical school was $46,062 per year.
  • Law School: According to the American Bar Association (ABA), resident* law students in 2012 paid $23,214 per year on average at a public school, while the average cost of tuition for a private law school was $40,634 per year.

*Non-resident students will pay a higher tuition for both public and private medical and law schools.

Fees for graduate school

In addition to paying for tuition and books, some colleges and universities charge program and school-related fees that will be part of your total cost of attendance. Plus, you'll need to pay for standardized and subject tests, and perhaps take an entrance exam as part of the admission process. Below is a list of some of the most common fees/expenses you could encounter:

  • GMAT', GRE, LSAT, and MCAT. These graduate school exams are required before you apply to the program of your choice. The costs outlined are for tests taken in preparation for the 2014-2015 academic year.
    • GRE (Graduate Records Examination): $185. (You may also need to take GRE subject tests which cost $150 per test).
    • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test): $250.
    • LSAT (Law School Admission Test):$165.
    • MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test): $275 (Note: it is more than $400 for international testing).
  • Room and board. In graduate school it's less likely you will have on-campus housing available, although there are exceptions to this rule. Whether you will be paying standard room and board or finding an apartment off-campus, make sure you factor living expenses and rent into your monthly budget. You may be able to use a private graduate student loan to cover these costs if necessary.
  • Labs. Medical, engineering and science graduate programs will have labs which require fees to cover the cost of supplies.
  • Campus and activities fees. Universities may charge fees for technology expenses, student services, facilities, and other school related services.
  • Health and wellness fees and insurance. Universities want their students to be healthy and therefore offer services such as flu shots, screenings, and more. Fees for health-related services will vary from university-to-university.
  • Non-resident fee. Out-of-state and international students usually pay higher tuition than in-state students.
  • Parking or transit pass. There may be an optional fee for parking or transit passes depending on the location of the university.

Look for additional ways to offset the cost of graduate school

Even though the average cost of graduate school seems to rise from year-to-year, you can still pursue your dream of getting a master's or doctoral degree by taking advantage of free aid, on-campus jobs or a private graduate student loan. Below are some ways to help offset the cost of graduate school:

  • Apply for scholarships and grants. Many students apply for scholarships as well as federal, state and private grants from by non-profits and other organizations. Ask your advisor about grants that apply to your particular field of study.
  • Get published in a journal or other publication. Look for opportunities to have your papers published in a journal or other academic medium. You may be awarded a bonus or fellowship that could pay for part of your tuition.
  • Take advantage of your employer's tuition reimbursement program. Your employer may offer tuition reimbursement. If you want to pursue an MBA, ask your employer what steps you must take to receive tuition reimbursement. If they do not have a program in place, consider a private loan for MBA students from Citizens Bank.
  • Consider applying to be a teaching assistant. Whether or not your interests lie in academia, many graduate school professors hire students to assist with their undergrad classes. You could find the position pays as much as half your annual tuition.

Finance your higher education with a private graduate student loan from Citizens Bank

A graduate, medical, or law degree may make your dream career a reality. But keep in mind that every graduate degree program is different; some may require more financing and time than others. As you consider how to cover the cost of your higher education, contact Citizens Bank and speak with one of our qualified Education Finance Specialists. We'll be there with you every step of the way as you pursue your graduate degree - from helping you through your no-fee private student loan application to helping you choose and manage our flexible repayment options.

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