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5 Ways to Finance Your Masters in Public Health Degree

- Easier Than You Think

When you are deciding to pursue your Masters in Public Health degree, one of the biggest worries is how you are going to pay for it. Financial aid is more limited for graduate students than it is for undergraduates, but that does not mean you cannot find the aid you need to finance your degree. I am going to detail five ways you can pay for your degree and only one of those ways is something you have to pay back.

  1. Federal & private student loans - This is the method for financing your graduate education that you have to pay back. Federal loans for graduate education are not based on need at all. They are based on the total cost of your education for each semester. These loans are also put on a grace period while you are enrolled in at least 6 credit hours of graduate study a semester. After you either graduate or fall under 6 credit hours a semester, your six-month grace period begins. While in school, your interest is either paid by the Federal government (Subsidized Stafford loan) or it accrues (Unsubsidized Stafford loan). If you get the Unsubsidized Stafford loan, you can choose to pay the interest while you are in school and the six-month grace period. That way it will cut down on how much you have to pay every month after graduation. Sometimes you need more money to get your degree. This is where the private loan comes in. Private loans are loans from banking institutions. The details on repayment of private loans differ from bank to bank, so you will have to double-check when you apply for your loan.
  1. Grants - No matter which level of study you are in (undergraduate or graduate), grants are a good way to go if you can get them. Grants are monetary awards that you do not have to pay back. There are several different ways to get a grant for your graduate education. Some states offer grants to graduate students for study in specific fields like Public Health. Many schools have information regarding these and other types of grants available to you. Be sure to ask your school of choice's financial aid department about any grants that you could be eligible for. Also, contact the Public Health department and see if there are any outside grants that you could apply for. It is highly recommended that you exhaust every other financial aid option before getting a student loan of any kind.
  1. Scholarships - Scholarships are another means of financing your education that does not require repayment. Scholarships are offered by the school and also by outside sources, like companies in the field of the program you are applying to. In some cases, all you need to do is fill out the school's financial aid forms to be considered for the scholarships. However, with some outside scholarships, you may have to apply to the specific companies or endowments to be considered for the award. Remember to keep all scholarship application deadlines in mind and apply as early as possible. Scholarships are very competitive and most, if not all, are based upon merit.
  1. Assistantships and work study - Another means of paying for your graduate degree is to get a graduate assistantship or a work study job at the university. A graduate assistantship is usually research, administrative or education-based. Most graduate assistants are teaching assistants, but some work in offices on-campus or do research for a specific department or professor. Assistantships are very competitive and limited at every college and university. Work study positions, however, are different. These positions are just like jobs. You work a certain schedule during the week and you get a paycheck for it. Most schools have plenty of work study jobs available and some positions are even specifically for graduate students. These jobs usually are not competitive since there are so many positions readily available. Either option is a good one to consider.
  1. Tuition reimbursement from employers - Many companies offer their employees tuition reimbursement if they get a degree. If you work for a public health agency already, you may find that they will happily finance your education. Some employers will pay for an employee to get a degree in exchange for a commitment to working for them a specific amount of time after graduation. Tuition reimbursement is a great way to finance your education and arguably the best option if your employer offers it. Just ask the Human Resources department at your place of employment if they have a tuition reimbursement plan before you consider any other means of financial aid to get your MPH degree.

References -

http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/gradstudent.jsp

http://gradschool.about.com/od/financialaid/Financial_Aid.htm

http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2008/03/26/how-to-get-financial-aid-for-grad-school

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