The following descriptions will help students understand the various types of financial aid awards:
Grad school applicants spend countless hours stressing over the admissions processing and wondering about whether or not they’ll get in, but they tend to forget their next-biggest source of anxiety: If they do get in, how will they pay for the whole thing? To take some of the mystery out of the financial aid process, we’ve just released The Veritas Prep Guide to Graduate School Financial Aid.
This isn’t another “Find 1,000 free loans!” service… Rather, it’s Financial Aid 101 for anyone who is about to start writing some really big checks to attend grad school. It covers grants, merit-based fellowships, subsidized federal loans, and private financing options. All of these should be part of your toolkit as you start to plan how to finance your degree.
The following are four key things you should do, starting now, as you consider how to finance your MBA, MB, or JD:
- Start early, and stay organized. While separate from admissions, the financial aid process is concurrent and equally important. Deadlines should be placed on the calendar and prioritized similar to admissions deadlines, and checklists can be very valuable in keeping everything organized.
- Doggedly search for outside funding. Searching for outside scholarships is often something that slips past graduate school applicants compared to their undergraduate counterparts. Scholarships, fellowships and writing competitions for graduate students are often listed on school websites, while independent websites also collate these opportunities.
- Carefully review the financial aid opportunities at every school of interest. While applicants generally apply to multiple schools, most applicants do not perform a thorough search of the scholarships and fellowships offered at each of the schools to which they are applying. This simple step of due diligence may reveal students qualify for a cost-savings they were otherwise unaware of.
- Emotions aside, consider the bottom line. Be willing to briefly consider the enrollment decision in purely financial terms. It sounds overly rigid, but considering how emotionally most students make their decisions, it will help balance things out to take a short period of time to consider the enrollment decision the way an accountant would.
You can download the full report for free here. If you want more help in getting into business school, law school, or medical school, call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep admissions expert today!
In another sign of economic stress, Harvard has announced that its $36.9 billion endowment may face “unprecedented” losses in the coming year.
While a Harvard spokeperson declined to comment specifically on how the anticipated losses would affect university operations, the university has confirmed that it will continue to offer free tuition to students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year, and offer reduced tuition to families with annual incomes of as much as $180,000.
Other Ivy League schools are taking additional steps to mitigate students’ pain: Princeton will make more financial aid funds available to students, and Brown will relax rules barring students with unpaid tuition balances from registering for classes. Given the size of Harvard’s endowment, even if it faces losses this year, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the school take similar steps to protect its students.
If you’re applying to graduate school this year, the bottom line is that top schools don’t want to have to turn away anyone because of fianances, even in this economy. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have a frank conversation with the financial aid office at your target school. Chances are that they want to work with you to help you make it work.
For more information on Harvard, visit the Veritas Prep HBS information page and read about the HBS 2+2 Program.
In the wake of the credit crisis, one question that has been top of mind for many prospective law students is whether the hefty loans relied upon by so many will, in fact, be available when it comes time to cut the check to the old office of the bursar.
The loan packages required to attend an elite law often soar well above $100,000 in total and are typically cobbled together through a variety of government-backed loans (Stafford, Perkins, and PLUS) and private loans. Given the way loans are drying up in other markets and industries, it was a reasonable question to wonder if they would still be there for students.
Finally, word is trickling down from sources like NYU Law School Dean Richard Matasar that the government-based loans will most likely be unaffected by the credit crisis. So most of the financial aid necessary will still be there.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like private loans will be as readily available. The National Law Journal worries about students applying for bridge loans to get from graduation to the bar exam, but those expenses are often covered by law firms as a benefit to the 2L summer associates who accept offers of employment in advance.
Of greater concern is what a reduction in loan availability will do to school choice and the inevitable leveraging game that follows when students are forced to make financial considerations the top factor in selecting a program. In the current J.D. market, students often bypass large scholarships in favor of loan-heavy packages in order to attend the top program or best fit available. However, if those discretionary private loans aren’t available, students may not have a choice but to take the bigger scholarship packages. This tends to create an environment where schools get leveraged by other programs willing to spend big, and the result is confusion in the marketplace with regards to where top students will congregate and where top employers need to go to recruit.
All of that said, the major takeaway is that most of the loans will still be there, which should continue to fuel a recession-driven spike in graduate school applications.
Obviously, one of the primary factors that govern a graduate school applicant’s enrollment decision is The Almighty Dollar. As in: how much will this cost, what kind of aid can I get, and what sort of earning potential am I looking at once I finish? Analyzing educational cost is a complicated task because students must first identify actual numbers (sticker price – available scholarship and grant money) and then put those numbers in the proper context by understanding loan repayment and properly estimating future salary figures.
One thing that is further complicating this financial aid stew is the addition of loan forgiveness programs. Popularized by elite law schools, the concept is a relatively simple one: eschew the big paychecks (and long hours) of a big law firm in favor of public interest work and, in exchange, you will get help paying back your enormous graduate student loans. Law schools have discovered that an attractive loan forgiveness program is a terrific marketing tool. This is primarily due to the fact that a huge number of law school applicants (especially those who are qualified to land admission spots in the elite programs) are highly optimistic people who view themselves as truth-seeking, freedom-fighting altruistic beings. In other words, everyone thinks they are going to do public interest work when they first apply to law school.
This poses an interesting question: how much stock should a top-flight candidate put in a school’s loan forgiveness program?
A quick look at any reputable survey (I’m too lazy to find one at present) will tell you that the number of law school graduates who ultimately do public interest work is far, far less than the number of law school applicants who say they will one day do public interest work. There are many factors that play a role in this phenomenon. It is easier for a student at an elite law school to secure a summer associate position at a law firm than with a cutting edge public interest entity. Public interest firms and groups have fewer recruiting resources. The pressure to work in the big legal markets like New York or L.A. force students to search for an accessible path that will also pay the costs of relocating and then living in those cities. There are also simple (and often perverse) economic incentives, career-building considerations, and personal preference factors to consider. But the simple truth is that the number of actual public interest lawyers is so much lower than the number of hypothetical public interest lawyers because – pay attention now – people have no idea what they want to do when they are applying for law school! In fact, it is safe to say that the “actual” number for any subset of the legal profession is substantially lower than the suggested numbers generated by surveys of law school applicants.
It is human nature to change one’s mind, especially after being exposed to hundreds of hours of logical reasoning and critical analysis.
So this takes us back to our initial question, framed in a new way: if students think they might want to do public interest law, but know they probably won