What is a Graduate Assistantship, and How Do I Qualify?: JR’s Daily Two-Minute Financial Aid Tip

This is episode 16, and today we are answering the question, what is a graduate Assistantship and how you can qualify for one?

Say you are one the cusp of graduating this year. You want to be more competitive in the job market and have decided you want a graduate degree. But the question then becomes how to pay for it?

Now if you had a zero EFC while in college, and were used to getting every form of federal or state aid they threw at you, you’ll be in for a shock come grad school. Unless you are a teacher, the only financial aid the government will provide is access to student loans.

However, just as schools do for undergraduates, graduate schools that want a student will offer aid to encourage them to attend, much of which is offered as a graduate assistantship.

As a part of this assistantship, a student is assigned to an office or a professor part time to work in whatever job they need. In exchange, the student gets a tuition discount or waiver, sometimes even a small stipend. For those pursing academic doctorate degrees, large schools go even further, by offering full tuition waivers, a stipend for living expenses, as well as health care.

The key to all of this is finding a school that wants you as much as you want them. For most programs, advisors will select based on recommendation, graduate test scores on the GRE, and undergraduate record. Much like they did while you were in high school.

So if you want to qualify for a graduate assistantship, heres a quick tip: Research your program advisor. For most graduate programs, the advisor is not just some anonymous person who was assigned to the task. Rather, its a professor in the program who you will come to know well. Take the time to look up on academic search engines what their research area is and what papers they have written.  Then talk to them directly about the program. Find a way to bring up his subject area and discuss it. It shows interest in the program, and puts you above the rest of the pack and makes it more likely you will get the aid you need to keep from going massively into debt.

Have a problem with financial aid or scholarships? go ahead and send JR a tweet @ CollegeCashMan. Thanks for listening to JR’s Two Minute Financial Aid Tips at www.collegemoneyman.com.

The College Money Man Podcast, and JR’s Two Minute Tips are available for subscription for FREE via iTunes, and Stitcher. New episodes of 2-Minute Tips are released everyday Monday thru Friday, and our weekly broadcast is released each Wednesday. Subscribe, like, and comment! Download and get your dose of financial aid help on the go.

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