By the time most people are considering graduate school, they've already had a taste of the real world – and a look at the price tag. Even those lucky enough to get a high-paying job right away are still likely to face a mountain of student loans.
So, if you do decide to pile on those credits even further by attending a graduate school, it can be more than frustrating to find that even the application process comes at a cost. Here's what to expect – and how to budget for it.
This is how you estimate the application costs for the graduate school
Each graduate program has its own fees and associated costs. Some programs pay part of an applicant's fees, while others don't cover a single penny.
Application-related costs include:
University Registration Fees: Typically between $ 50 and $ 170
Entrance exams like GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT: Can range from $ 150 to $ 320
In-person interview travel expenses: Can cost $ 0 (if on-site) to thousands (if out of town).
Workwear: Most students wear a suit, dress, or trouser suit to their school interview
Official Transcription Fees: Typically between $ 5 and $ 10
Some region-specific issues are not included in this list, e.g. B. Winter gear if you're moving from California to New York for grad school, or a sturdy pair of rain boots if you're moving to Seattle.
If you're trying to budget for these expenses upfront, talk to students in similar programs, TAs, and even your professors. Your undergrad advisor may also have suggestions on who to ask.
This will save you money when you apply for graduate schools
The cost of applying to graduate school can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Here are some ways to save money during the process:
Apply for a fee waiver
Many graduate schools require students to complete the GRE, which is similar to the SAT for aspiring graduates. The test costs $ 160 for students in the United States, Puerto Rico, and other US territories.
The company that manages the GRE gives students with proven financial needs a 50% discount. Applicants must have completed the FAFSA and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $ 2,500 or less. If you are an independent student, your EFC must be $ 3,000 or less.
If you have to take the test again, you will need to reapply for the fee waiver as well. Fortunately, many programs drop the GRE as a requirement.
Some graduate schools also offer enrollment fee waivers with similar requirements. This can save you hundreds of dollars depending on how many schools and programs you are applying for. Sometimes they even offer a discount if you submit your application early.
Other schools do not waive the registration fee but can apply to multiple departments of the school while paying for just one registration.
Ask about travel reimbursement
Graduate schools often require face-to-face interviews, but can sometimes reimburse travel expenses. This depends on the school and major. Some will book the trip for you, while others ask you to book your own trip and submit receipts that will be refunded later.
However, some schools only reimburse applicants who are admitted to the program. Before applying, do some research about the travel reimbursement process so you don't get caught off guard.
Contact your employer
If you are already employed and want to continue working while you attend school, see if your company will cover some of your expenses. Even if they don't have a tuition reimbursement plan, they may be able to help with registration and exam fees.
How do I pay the cost of applying to the Graduate School?
You may need to use the following loan options to help cover graduate school application costs.
Open a 0% APR credit card
When Brad Zehr applied for medical school, he had no savings. His parents paid for some of his applications, but he relied on 0% APR credit cards to fund the rest.
Students paying the cost of applying to graduate school should consider opening a credit card with a 0% APR offer for new purchases. These special credit card offers typically last anywhere from six to 24 months. From this point on, the regular APR begins.
During this promotional period, you can debit transactions on the card and not owe any interest – even if you cannot repay the remaining amount at once. However, if you do not repay the remaining amount before the end of the promotional period, you will have to pay interest on the remaining amount.
Opening a card with a 0% APR offer has some drawbacks. Some credit cards charge deferred interest after the promotional period, with any remaining balance triggering an interest charge for the entire transaction history. Even if you only have $ 5 in balance at the end of the 0% offer, you will be charged interest on all transactions made since the card was opened. This could equate to hundreds of dollars in interest.
If you miss a payment during the special offer period, the 0% rate can be revoked and replaced with a higher rate. To avoid this, set up automatic payment on the account and check every month the payment was made.
If you don't qualify for a 0% card yourself, your parents can open one and add you as an authorized user. This means you can use the card, but your parents are legally responsible for the payments.
Take out a personal loan
Students can apply for a personal loan to pay graduate school application costs, but it can be difficult to qualify without a co-signer. If your parents are willing to co-sign, you have a better chance of getting approved for a personal loan.
Personal loans have a fixed term, usually between one and seven years, and a fixed interest rate between 6 and 36%.
Depending on your parents' creditworthiness, you might get a relatively low interest rate. Since the terms of a personal loan are longer than a 0% credit card offer, repaying the remaining balance can be less stressful.
Zina Kumok (101 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.