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. Learn how to find and apply for grants, as well as how to keep them.

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Essential Information

A grant is a sum of money offered to students to help pay for school. Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. To get a grant for graduate education, students must first find an appropriate grant program and apply for the grant. Also, once a grant has been issued, students must continue to meet the conditions of the grant in order to keep it.

Finding Grant Programs

Many places offer grants for graduate programs. The three main places to start looking include government organizations, academic institutions and private foundations.

Government organizations: The main federal organization that offers students grants for graduate school is the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov). 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.

Colleges and Universities: Academic institutions offer grants based on academic excellence and financial need. Students should check with their school to find out if there are any grant programs offered there.

Private Organizations and Foundations: Students can search for religious, ethnic or subject-oriented organizations and foundations to find grant opportunities.

Application Process

Applying for grants varies depending on the grant's particular guidelines and requirements. Some grants do not have an application process, while others require in-depth proposals to be submitted with the application. Government grants typically require that students apply through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.ed.gov).

Keeping Grants

Although students do not need to repay grants, the conditions of some grants may require students to teach or work in an underserved area for a specified amount of time. Other grants have stipulations that require that students keep a certain grade point average or study a certain subject. In order to keep the grant, students must ensure that they are maintaining the requirements for the grant. If the conditions of the grant are not met, some grants turn into loans that must be repaid.

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