How America Pays for Graduate School

A snapshot of the national study by Sallie Mae® and Ipsos

This report looks at graduate students’ attitudes, aspirations, and actions as they choose to study—and pay—for an advanced degree.

Join the conversation at #HowGradsPay
View the full report

Career goals are driving students to grad school

icon dark blue with coral accent for money cost savings. wallet with dollar sign money
9 in 10 believe a degree will mean increased earnings
dark blue icon of graduate student with cap
Two-thirds see a grad degree as a new minimum standard for professional careers

They’re ready to move ahead

icon dark blue with coral accent calendar with red date
63% begin school within 12 months of an undergrad degree
accent icon svg for undergraduate loan dark blue and coral. degree certificate scroll with ribbon
24% already have an advanced degree
dark blue icon with two genders
42% are male and 58% are female
icon for a checklist, list, resume, or document in dark blue paper and coral checkmarks.
75% have some experience working in a field related to their graduate program

They’re determined to get their degree

57% are going full-time; 43% are part-time
light cyan 24 months, twenty-four mo. svg icon statistic.
The average time for a degree, estimated by master’s students

The master’s matters

dark blue icon with coral accent for science. a dark blue test tube or beaker holds a coral sapling. science, environment, plant, biology concept
48% are studying for a Master of Science
dark blue icon with coral accent for MBA. a dark blue briefcase with a coral buckle.
22% are studying for an MBA
dark blue icon with coral accent for drama or arts. Comedy and tragedy theater masks smiling and frowning.
24% are studying for a Master of Arts

Cost isn’t the deciding factor in choosing a school

choose a school based on
quality or convenience
choose based on cost

How students pay for graduate school

Average amount spent
of costs are paid by students
of costs are covered by student borrowing
of costs are covered by student earnings—income and savings
of costs are covered by grants, scholarships, fellowships, and tuition waivers
of costs are covered by external contributions from family or friends

They’re anticipating loan forgiveness

dark blue icon with coral accent for give back or charity. a dark blue outstretched hand holds a coral heart.
49% of students with federal loans expect them to be forgiven
dark blue icon with coral accent for cost of attendance or tuition bill. a document with a coral dollar sign at the top.
47% of grad students have at least one federal loan

footnote "How America Pays for Graduate School," by Sallie Mae, the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company, and Ipsos, the world's third-largest market research company, reports the results of 1,597 telephone interviews Ipsos conducted between 05/18/17 and 07/19/17 of students age 20 or older enrolled full-time or part-time in graduate school.