Steps in Financial Planning for Graduate Education
Step 1: Know Your Personal Financial Resources
Whether it is a detailed spreadsheet or just mental notes, you have household income and expenses that you track in some way. Having a household budget, especially as you transition from working adult to working adult student, will help you see your financial picture more clearly. There are many free resources online for quick budget outlines, such as The Daily Muse Budget Template spreadsheet for grad students. You might also use budgeting software like Mint or You Need a Budget.
Step 2: Estimate Your Graduate School Budget
Write down your best estimates for your educational costs. Start with a review of the tuition and costs each term for an average student in your program, but be aware that your own costs can vary depending on your location and your personal choices. Then estimate the number of terms that you will be enrolled in your program. Talk with an Admissions Advisor or attend an Information Session to learn about the curriculum and program length.
Step 3: Close Funding Gaps
If your personal resources won’t cover your estimated budget, then you need to find funding to help fill the gap. There are many options that Fielding students use, and most use a combination of the following:
- Monthly Payment Plan – Fielding’s monthly payment plan breaks down the tuition each term into smaller monthly automatic payments from a bank account or credit card. US and international students can use the monthly payment plan.
- Federal Student Aid – The majority of Fielding students use federal student loans as their main source of gap funding, and many minimize their loans by using the monthly payment plan or one of the other funding sources. Federal loan funding is available to cover educational expenses, regardless of income level, for eligible students.
- Scholarships & Fellowships – Funding that doesn’t require repayment, like scholarships and fellowships, is available to graduate students. Scholarships can be used to reduce or eliminate borrowing depending on your situation, but it does take some research and planning to obtain them.
- Other Funding Possibilities