After graduating from Rollins, the thought of taking on additional debt for advanced educational pursuits may be daunting. Financial considerations must be reviewed; however, many forms of aid are available to assist you. Finding the information can be time-consuming and at times, frustrating. There are many resources available to you that can help make your educational dreams a reality. As a graduate student, you are automatically considered "independent" in terms of federal financial aid purposes; therefore, your parents’ income and assets will not be calculated in determining your financial need. You should also note that graduate financial aid is often awarded on the basis of academic merit. For these reasons, the following advice is offered:
Aid can be secured from various sources including: the federal government, state governments, educational institutions, foundations, corporations and other private organizations such as churches and professional associations. The information listed below is offered as a beginning guide to financial aid; please consult a financial aid expert for specific advice about your financial situation.
Fellowships generally require no service in return. Often they provide the cost of tuition and fees, plus a stipend to cover expenses. A fellowship is a prestigious award and is an indication of excellence important to a student’s total career. Financial need is usually not a factor in awarding fellowships. You may wish to contact Dr. Jayashree Shivamoggi in the Office of Student External and Competitive Scholarship Advisement for more information about major fellowship and scholarship opportunities. Be sure to visit Dr. Jay early in your academic career, as competition for these prestigious honors can begin as early as sophomore or junior year.
Several states offer support for graduate study. In order to qualify for a particular state’s aid, you must be a resident of that state. Residency is established in most states after you have lived there for at least twelve consecutive months prior to enrolling in school. Most state awards are based on financial need.
Scholarships are awarded through private sources based on parameters they determine. Financial need is usually not a factor in awarding scholarships. Although there are numerous opportunities for graduate-level scholarships, you may feel as though scholarships are less common now than at the undergraduate level. While this is somewhat true, part of the challenge is simply finding available scholarships. Instead of being offered primarily through the institution, many graduate scholarships may be offered through private foundations and corporate agencies, thus requiring a bit more research on your part.
A research assistantship usually requires the student to assist in the research activities of the faculty. These assistantships are rarely offered to first-year students. You should contact individual faculty members directly to determine whether you are eligible.
Such a position may involve delivering lectures, leading study groups, grading papers, counseling students, and supervising laboratory groups. Most TA’s work approximately 20 hours each week. TA’s generally receive a salary and often tuition is waived as well. Appointments are based on academic qualifications and are subject to the availability of funds within a department.
This type of position generally requires 10 to 20 hours of work each week in an administrative office of the university. Some administrative assistantships provide a tuition waiver; others provide a salary. Details concerning these positions can usually be found in the school catalogue or through the academic department.
This federally funded program provides eligible students with employment opportunities on campus or in nonprofit organizations. Work-study is available to both graduate and undergraduate students who can demonstrate financial need. Not all schools have an earnings ceiling. The dollar value of a work-study award depends upon financial need, the amount of money the school has to offer, and the aid received from other sources.
This government-sponsored program provides low-interest loans to graduate students in two forms: subsidized and unsubsidized. The subsidized component of the program provides an interest-free loan as long as you are in school at least on a half-time basis. Under the unsubsidized component of the program, you are responsible for paying the interest of the loan as soon as the loan is disbursed. In order to qualify for the subsidized loan, you must demonstrate financial need. You may borrow up to $8,500 per year through the subsidized program; an additional $12,000 per year may be borrowed through the unsubsidized program.
This federally-sponsored loan program can lend up to the full cost of your education, minus money received from other sources, including Stafford loans. Thus, a PLUS loan should be used if additional funds are needed, only after all other resources are exhausted. Flexible repayment options are available and no repayment is required while you are enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis. The current fixed interest rate on graduate PLUS loans is 8.5%.
Similar in scope to the Federal Stafford Student Loans, some graduate schools offer Direct Loans that are funded through the Department of Education’s Direct Lending Program. Interest rates and policies are very similar; however, there are more repayment options with Federal Direct Loans.
To apply for almost any type of financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application must be completed after January 1 preceding fall enrollment. You may download the form from http://fafsa.ed.gov.