With both in-state and out-of-state tuitions climbing at a similar rate as gasoline, many potential graduate students are finding themselves wondering if pursuing an advanced degree is really a good investment. For many of us, the thought of taking on more dept is terrifying and enough to prevent us from going back to school. Before you abandon the idea of higher education, you should be aware that there are a few ways to avoid these climbing tuition costs.
1. Since most universities offer tuition waivers to employees, consider getting a job on campus. Even if the job is entry level and low paying, the money that you save on school might still make it worthwhile. Do the math! Getting a job on campus is a great idea for several other reasons as well: working on campus will give you the opportunity to meet faculty in a more casual environment and this may help you when it comes time to apply. Further, working in your field might give you the opportunity to publish an academic manuscript, and this is a tremendous advantage when being considered for admission.
2. Many employers will pay for a portion or all of your tuition if they perceive your pursuit of an advanced degree as transforming you into a more valuable employee. When you approach your boss, present a good argument convincing him or her that it would be a great investment to send you to graduate school. In return, you may be required to agree to work for this employer for a certain number of years, but this is usually a fair trade off.
3. Going to school part-time is another good way to offset the cost of tuition. Taking a few classes at a time will allow you to spread the cost of school over a longer period of time. Further, it will limit the amount of lifestyle changes required of going to school full time. It's also a good idea to test the waters before jumping in because this also gives you the opportunity to see if you really do enjoy studying a particular topic at the graduate level.
4. Some programs will offer "graduate assistantship opportunities" once you are accepted to the program. These are on-campus jobs designed with graduate students in mind. Examples include dormitory advisors, laboratory mangers, and teacher's assistants. These jobs are staffed by graduate students in return for a tuition waiver (partial or full).