Thousands of young men and women are able to educate themselves thanks to financial aid. In fact, it is difficult to imagine how many would have skipped getting a bachelors degree, completing an accredited online masters program or failed to work through earning a PhD without a little financial help. However, student debt is a major issue for today’s undergraduates, let alone those who wish to pursue an advanced degree. As a result, many students have discovered “creative” ways to finance their Masters degrees.
Many students think of scholarships as a resource for undergraduates, but they are also offered for Masters programs through a variety of channels. According to the Online Education Database, the federal government provides scholarships to Masters students nationwide; however, applicants are warned that many of these rewards require some form of federal service. The school to which the student is applying may also provide scholarship opportunities. A third option is a state-funded scholarship, which are particularly common for students seeking specialized degrees.
Extended Payment Plans
Rather than take out a loan, financially strapped students are urged to set up an extended payment plan with their school. This service is available at more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide. Individuals who choose this option may have to pay a nominal fee, but this charge is far outweighed by the interest one accrues with a student loan. Students should inquire about these payment plans at their school’s financial aid office.
According to Dr. Don Taylor at Bankrate.com, savings bonds can be used to fund college tuition under the Education Savings Bond Program. There are certain stipulations for this program. For instance, the bonds must be listed under a name other than the student’s (or the student must be older than 24 years old when they were purchased). However, if certain requirements are met, then up to $10,000 can be used to pay tuition fees. The student’s tax return will not suffer in the process, since his or her income will most likely be low. Dr. Taylor suggests using the Savings Bond Wizard on the TreasuryDirect website to determine the bonds’ value and interest earnings. This will help the student decide which bonds to use.
Available Tax Credits
According to Financial Aid Finder, Congress increased the amount of available education-related tax credits in February 2012. The new American Opportunity credit allows students or parents to receive up to $2,500 for school expenses. In addition, this credit is available for up to four years. If students do not redeem the credit for all four years of their undergraduate studies, then the credit will be available for at least part of their Masters program. In addition, the College Tuition Deduction allows up to $4,000 in educational expenses to be deducted, as long as the student or spouse is paying the tuition out of pocket. Individuals with student loans are also able to deduct up to $2,500 from the interest of their loans, provided their annual income does not exceed $70,000.
As Congress debates the student debt crisis, college graduates continue to allocate a large portion of their incomes toward student loan payments. These alternative methods allow students to receive their Masters diplomas with significantly less post-graduation stress.
Image source: epsos