Graduate School Financial Aid Question

posted 2 years ago in College
Post # 2
549 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

If your parents are still supporting and claim you when you file your FAFSA, you won’t get a good financial aid package. FAFSA is based on the previous year’s tax return. If your parents claim you as a dependent on 2015 taxes, your financial aid package will reflect that. You can ask them not to claim you on their taxes but if I were you, I’d start looking into scholarships, private education loans and a part time job. The job will help with the loan applications and with filing your FAFSA as an independent.

You could also look at committing a year to Americorps or Peace Corps. They offer several thousand in continuing education grants after successful completion of your assignment.

Post # 3
136 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

It does not matter whether your parents are financially supporting you rather if you are old enough to not be claimed on their taxes. If you are still being claimed as a dependent by your parents on their taxes then fafsa will go by your parents income, but if not then you will go by your income based on your tax filings. I just graduated from my grad program and I got financial aid every semester. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Post # 4
2551 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

abeautifulunion:  Can I ask what you’re going to school for?  Some programs offer financial aid coverage through teaching or research assistantships.  

Post # 5
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I just started grad school this summer and did fasfa for the summer and fall. You are independent and your parents income is not needed or asked for on a fasfa for graduate students. You probably won’t get any financial aid besides a loan with interest. You’re better off looking for financial aid as a grad assistant or through your university. It’s almost impossible to get federal aid besides loans for grad students even if you’re not working. I would suggest working during grad school though, as long as you’re good at time management. 

Post # 6
3360 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

There are a couple issues here.  #1 – are your parents still claiming you as a dependent on their taxes, or will they be in Jan. 2016?  If so, I believe you’ll have to include their income on your FAFSA for the first year and will therefore not qualify for as much (obviously, depending on how much money they make).  Could you talk to them about not claiming you for 2015, so that you can get your financial aid lined up?

The bigger deal, really, is what kind of grad program you’re applying to.  Will you be on an assistantship?  Are there fellowships available that you could apply for?  I taught on assistantship all throughout grad school, so I just took out small federal loans to cover my fees and help some with living expenses (because graduate students are really not paid enough to cover all bills, usually).  Or is this a program where you’re expected to pay your way fully?  That makes a huge difference.  If you’ll be on assistantship, your tuiton will be covered and you won’t need $52,000/year in loans.  If you DO have to take out that much….you’re really going to want to work with your parents on the tax issue to make sure you can get the loans you need.

Best of luck!

Post # 8
6799 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!

abeautifulunion:  What is your major and what will you study in grad school? In certain fields, it is unheard of to self-support yourself in graduate school, and many of the hard sciences offer full support (tuition+stipend+health benefits). I have been in grad school for 5 years (2 diff schools) and both fully funded me. I had to TA to get my tuition covered at one institution and my TA duties at my current school make me eligible for my stipend that my department pays. My current package is around $80k a year including tuition.

Post # 9
3623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

abeautifulunion:  Financial aid for grad school is typically merit based aid (they want you so much they will give you a job to earn your tuition) or loans. It is tied to your income,  but there aren’t grants or tge type of support you get in undergrad.


I would really think twice about taking out massive student loans for school. Make sure you consider your loan payments and what expected salary you will get. I took out $100k for grad school and my salary doubled. My classmates did not have such luck and have less take home pay (factoring in loan payments) than before school.  While they don’t regret their education,  they do wish they saved for another year or two not to have such massive loan payments

Post # 10
3833 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

abeautifulunion:  I’m not sure about financial aid – my parents did not financially support me through my graduate degree, except for keeping me on their health insurance, so they still claimed me as a dependent, which affected my taxes/financial status.

However – two things to think about, depending on your field. Are there assistantships available? I got my master’s in English (well, writing & editing), and I had an assistantship that included tuition+stipend, so I came out of grad school debt-free. I think a number of programs offer similar opportunities, at least at some schools.

Also, if you’re going to be hard up for money, might it be worth taking a year off to work and build up some savings to help offset the cost? Some programs find students more attractive if they have real-world experience (proves they made a conscious decision to go to grad school, not just fell into the next step), and I know it helped me personally keep from getting burnt out – something a lot of my fellow grad students who didn’t take a break struggled with.

Again, these are just my experiences and highly dependent on what field you are in/entering.

Post # 11
11634 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Even while I was living by myself on one income and financially independent (not claimed by anyone, not supported by anyone), FAFSA told me that technically I should be able to pay for the entire cost of my degree without loans.  The cost of my degree was equal to my pre-tax salary at the very expensive grad school I went to.  FAFSA is a nightmare.

Post # 12
2174 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I was always told this:

Unless you are going to med or law school or are going for your MBA, you should not pay to go to grad school.

Post # 13
2118 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

abeautifulunion:  I’m in grad school, and as I understand it, your parent’s income doesn’t count anymore when you’re a graduate student. You’re automatically considered independent.

There ARE some income-based financial aid programs out there (Perkins Loans are one I can think of off-hand), but PPs are right – most financial aid is merit based. I don’t believe that graduate school isn’t worth it if it’s not free, but do some research. I know that in my program (Master’s of Ed), a free ride is all but impossible unless you’re already a teacher and your district will pay for it. Since I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree in education, I can’t really teach in my state without getting a Master’s degree. For me, the cost is worth it, and FI and I determined that we’ll be able to take on that debt with no issue. But, especially for a low-paying career like teaching, be really careful about what debt you can actually afford to pay off. 

Good luck!

Post # 14
41 posts
  • Wedding: May 2012

I am the Financial Aid director of a small school. Graduate and PhD stuadents are considered independent according to Department of Education regulations. However, broke or not, graduate student only qualify for the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford loans and dependent upon their credit, the Graduate PLUS loan, which you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance. THis, of course, only looks at federal eligibility and does not take into account potential institutional funds that may be available at your given college or university.

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