Joanne Dashiell, a campus engagement and financial education consultant for American Student Assistance, a nonprofit that helps college students and alumni successfully manage their debt, offers these tips for non-traditional students on ways to finance business school.
- Complete paperwork before deadlines. “That’s very important so that students are eligible for the most money they can receive through financial aid programs at the institution or at the federal level,” said Dashiell, who also advises students to contact programs directly, to learn about specific costs and financial aid opportunities.
- Look for alternative sources of money like scholarships or fellowships. Sources for private scholarships can include local, civic, community, religious-based or national organizations. “I stress the free component,” said Dashiell. “Students should never have to pay to research about scholarship opportunities. That information should be available for free.” For fellowship opportunities, Dashiell recommends contacting the college or university’s school of business department directly. “They might also have some recommendations on regional or local organizations that might offer fellowships as well.” She also tells students to check out part-time employment, like graduate assistantships, which may waive a portion of tuition and/or allow students to receive a stipend.
- Research loan options. Students that will have to borrow money to finance business school are encouraged to look at the different options available for loans. “Federal loans are available to graduate students,” said Dashiell. “You want to maximize federal student loan availability first, because those loans have fixed interest rates (6.8% for Stafford loans for the life of the loan). Compared to some of the private financial loan options, many have variable rates. With federal loans, students also enjoy some repayment options that available and exclusive for the federal loan programs.” All students, even graduate students, are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for federal aid.
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–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets