How to Get a Grant for a Master's Degree

Graduate students can find merit- and need-based grants to help them pay for master's degree programs. Military service, ethnicity, and religion may also qualify certain candidates for award funds.

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Finding Grant Programs

Grant Sources Government, academic institutions, and foundations and organizations
Award Criteria Targeted groups of students ( i.e. religious, ethnic, or field-specific); academic excellence; financial need
Repayment Required No
Conditions Vary with each type of grant, but most do have stipulations such as maintaining a GPA, studying a particular field, or an agreement to work or provide services after graduation

A grant is a sum of money offered to students to help pay for school that does not have to be repaid like a loan. To get a grant for graduate education, students must first find an appropriate grant-awarding program and apply for a grant. Many organizations and establishments offer grants for graduate programs. The three main places to start looking are government organizations, academic institutions and private or nonprofit foundations and organizations.

Government Organizations

The main federal organization that offers students grants for graduate school is the U.S. Department of Education. These grants may be targeted at particular groups of students, such as students studying to be teachers. Federal grants include, but are not limited to, the Pell Grant, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service grants. State governments also provide grants through their departments of higher education.

Academic Institutions

Colleges and universities offer grants based on academic excellence and financial need. Students should check with their schools to find out if there are any grant programs being offered.

Private or Nonprofit Foundations and Organizations

Students can search for religious, ethnic or field-specific organizations and foundations to find grant opportunities.

Application Process

The process of applying for grants varies depending on a grant's particular guidelines and requirements. Some grants, such as government grants, only ask for you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), while others require you to apply online or submit hard copies of essays and other application materials.

Keeping Grants

Once a grant has been issued, students must continue to meet the conditions of the grant in order to keep it. Although students do not need to repay grants, the conditions of some grants may require students to teach or work in an under-served area for a specified amount of time. Other grants have stipulations that require students to maintain a certain grade point average or study a certain subject. In order to keep grants, students must ensure that they are maintaining the requirements for their particular grants. If the conditions of a grant are not met, it may turn into a loan that must be repaid.

Let's review what we've discussed. A grant is a sum of money that students can use to help pay for school and that does not have to be repaid like a loan, as long as certain conditions are met. Grants can usually be found through academic institutions, government organizations and private or nonprofit foundations and organizations.

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