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Are there federal grants for graduate students?

Everybody knows about Pell Grants. Any student who needs help with undergraduate tuition can get one. Are there comparable grants for graduate students? As a single mother, planning to return to school when my child does, I thought I’d just finish my BA in art history and teach. I’m told that nowadays getting a teaching job in my city requires a MEd. So does that mean graduate grants, or some similar system of graduate funding, is now available? I know nothing about postgrad student finance! I never imagined I’d need such a thing.

Samantha Stevenson

in Student Loans

1 answer

1 answer

Ralph Lopez on July 27, 2018

Traditionally graduate students were supposed to be able to pay their tuition with the money they earned using their bachelors’ degrees. Some help toward graduates’ funding might come from scholarships, and other graduates are awarded research grants or teaching fellowships.

So, although the US reserves some federal funding for tuition grants for disabled veterans under the GI Bill, there has never been, and will probably never be anything really comparable to the Pell Grant for graduate students. Masters programs are for adults; grants are based on work students have done during and after their undergraduate studies.

However, in addition to the salary, a BA is supposed to qualify you to earn, lots of different small-scale grants are available for graduate students who meet various criteria. There are grants specifically for women, grants for people who plan to work in the same state where they attend school, grants for people who want to study overseas, and others.

“Sallie Mae” is the official nickname for the SLM Corporation (once federally funded, now private), which oversees a huge collection of grant and loan programs for graduate students. Here’s the overview: .
Not all programs are listed with Sallie Mae. Some grants and loans are unadvertised, or even spontaneous—an employer might decide to invest unexpected profits in an employee’s education. As colleges and universities react to the Internet and its huge potential for “distance learning,” one benefit of spending time on campus is that teachers and school staff can help steer you to a graduate grant program that matches your plans and assets.

Many funding possibilities are displayed on the Internet. Most are legitimate. Some of the strangest are true, but you should investigate organizations before sending them identifying information or money.

Postgraduate student finance is meant to be a challenge. Funding is likely to reflect the marketplace. Lots of people want to study art history in Paris; relatively few want to study mining technology in Colorado. Guess which courses of study it’s easier to get a grant to pursue.

If you agree with that loans are oppressive, it can be worth investing some extra time and effort in creative funding alternatives. You might consider, for instance, adding a BS in computer graphics or video technology to your BA in art history, then teaching those subjects in an urban or remote rural high school for a few years.


Jeffrey Rodriguez2 years ago

I can’t agree more with the last paragraph. State grants are underrated. When I left high school one of my teachers said that our state offered grants for future teachers. Mother was having some trouble with some state employees at the time, so when I considered teaching math in an inner-city school she sang in a parody of “Sixteen Tons,” “You’ll owe your soul to the state store!” I studied English at a church college, got a few dead-end clerical jobs in the city, and then answered a call for volunteers. After teaching math in an inner-city school for five years I realized how much I missed by not choosing that as a career. I am now working on a BS in math, part-time, and if I can get the right grant for graduate students, I hope to add the MEd. 

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