Free money for your graduate degree
The first step of the 1-2-3 approach to paying for graduate school is to look for—and use—free money that you don’t have to pay back. Free money can be that missing piece of the puzzle to help you pay—every little bit can help. The most likely sources will be from graduate school scholarships, grants, and fellowships for graduate students.
The difference among scholarships, grants, and fellowships for graduate students
Graduate school scholarships are available through organizations, companies, states, and more. They can be need-based or merit-based, but you have to apply for them.
Grants for graduate school are like scholarships in that you don’t have to pay them back. If you withdraw from school or otherwise fail to maintain eligibility for the grant, you may have to refund part or all of the grant, so know the individual grant’s rules. While scholarships are often merit-based, grants are need-based and can relate to your prospective field.
Fellowships for graduate students generally relate to a short-term opportunity to study or conduct research in a specific field. Awarded for academic excellence, they can include an internship or other service commitment and can pay for living expenses, or offer a stipend. Fellowship opportunities can be found in most graduate fields.