Paying for Graduate School

When considering whether to attend graduate school and which one to attend, cost is a factor, and many students want to limit their student debt as much as possible. As a graduate student, you can earn income to offset tuition in several ways.

Assistantships and Internships

Graduate assistantships and internships provide wages in exchange for teaching, research or administrative duties at the institution where you are enrolled. Check with the graduate programs of interest to see if assistantships or internships are available.


Fellowships are typically merit-based competitive awards that support graduate students or postgraduate scholars in their advanced academic work. They are often offered by the institution at which you are or will be enrolled. In addition, national and international fellowships are available.

For more about fellowships:


Graduate students can apply for student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The amount you can borrow for graduate school is different than what you could borrow for your undergraduate degree.

Visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more, including how scholarship funding can affect financial aid awards.


Scholarships or grants are “free money” that you don’t have to pay back. They are typically offered by graduate programs or departments, by outside third-party organizations, and occasionally by the institution (university) where you are or will be enrolled.

Graduate schools typically talk about scholarships or funding somewhere in their admissions materials. For example, UC's Graduate School lists Funding Opportunities here.