Financial Aid

More Programs to Help Offset Grad School Costs

Even after you’ve accumulated all of the scholarships, aid and alternative funding you can, odds are you’ll still be footing a good chunk of your graduate schools bills on your own. Luckily, there are several state and federal programs designed to make financing your education a little easier. If you’re unsure if you qualify for one of the following benefits ask the financial aid department of your school:

State Tuition Breaks

In-state Tuition

At public schools, in-state tuition rates are often drastically lower than out-of-state costs. Consider the difference in sticker price for students earning an MBA at the University of Washington — non-resident students at Washington starting the program this fall will pay an estimated total of $88,350 to complete their degree; state residents will pay $60,678.

In-state price advantages can also be relevant to online students enrolled in programs offered by public state universities. Some programs attached to public universities do maintain tiered tuition levels to help open opportunities for students in their state.

If you are willing to move or defer grad school until you qualify as a state resident (usually after one year of living in the state) you could end up saving thousands of dollars. Some schools even allow students to pay an in-state rate after just six months on campus. But while reduced tuition can be a big draw, don’t forget to estimate total relocation costs before jumping into a program.

Tuition Reciprocity Agreements

If you just moved to a state and do not qualify for residency, or if you are attending a school online, check to see if the state schools have tuition reciprocity agreements. There are many instances of states charging in-state or reduced rates for residents of other states, here are a couple of the nation’s largest formal tuition agreement programs:

  • The Midwest Student Exchange Program: This tuition agreement amongst Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin allows for residents from any of these states to attend public universities in member states for no more than 150% of in-state rates.
  • The Western Undergraduate Exchange: This program also ensures that residents from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming pay no more than 150% of resident state tuition at public universities in any of the participating states.

Students must apply and be accepted into both of these programs individually. A participating public university will not automatically honor the MSE or WUE rates for every accepted student from partner states.

Federal Education Benefits


If you are attending graduate school without outside employment, applying for a work-study job can greatly help to offset costs. These part-time jobs are administered by the federal government and may include both on- and off-campus employment. Graduate students are paid hourly wages by their school through government subsidy.

Tax Credits

The Lifetime Learning credit is available to any graduate student, under a certain income, who paid for qualified education credits during the year. The maximum credit amount per year, for as many years as it is applicable to you, is $2,000.

The U.S. government offers one other education tax benefit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The AOTC is technically only available to undergraduate students, but students who began the taxable year as an undergraduate and became a graduate student within the same year may still claim their first semester of graduate tuition expenses to earn up to $2,500 in tax credit. You may not claim both credits in the same year.

Tax Deductions

With the Tuition and Fees Deduction, the IRS allows filers to deduct higher education expenses from their taxable income by up to $4,000. Both undergraduate and graduate expenses qualify for the deduction and it can be claimed either by the student themselves or a family member, but not both. A tuition and fees deduction cannot be claimed in the same year as an education tax credit.

Additional Fellowship & Scholarship Directories

While we aspire to have the most complete database of scholarships relevant to online master’s students, we recognize that there are a number of other directories with their own unique and worthwhile lists of aid. We have identified a number of sortable collections of scholarships and search engines tailored to graduate-level financial aid.

National Databases

International Databases