Financing Graduate School

Graduate school can be expensive. It may be necessary for you to find supplemental income to finance your graduate school education. There are three major types of financial packages: need based, merit based, and targeted aid. The key to finding additional financial support is research. It is highly recommended that you search for and apply for funding.

Consider the following kinds of financial assistance:


In most cases, assistantships allow for a stipend, tuition reimbursement, or monthly salary to be provided by the institution in exchange for about 20 hours of work per week. Assistantships are usually classified as teaching, research, or administratively focused and can give you excellent experience in your field of study. If you are interested in an assistantship, it is best to inquire directly with the department or program in which you are interested.


Scholarships are monies awarded to students through various channels. They can be based on need, academic merit, personal characteristics, or extra-curricular achievement. Often times, scholarships will be available through affinity organizations such as Veteran’s Affairs or ethnically affiliated organizations. The important thing to remember is that nearly all scholarships will require the student to apply for funding, so search for opportunities on the below websites, and apply early! Being awarded a scholarship is a prestigious accomplishment and can be placed on your resume/curriculum vitae. For more information on scholarships, visit the financial aid office on your future campus or review the scholarship program on the Fresno State financial aid website.


Next to scholarships, grants are the most attractive form of financial assistance because grants also do not need to be repaid. There are several sources for grants, including the Federal Government, the State of California, and the California State University, Fresno. To be eligible for a grant, you must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA) form and the monies are awarded based on need. For more information on grants, visit the financial aid office on your future campus or review the grant portion of the Fresno State financial aid website.


75% of all graduate financial aid is now in the form of loans. There are major federal programs such as Perkins Loans, Stafford Student Loans and Grad PLUS Loans as well as loans from private lenders. There are also often loans available through the individual department or discipline at the university. To be eligible for a federal loan, you must complete the FAFSA paperwork. For more information, contact the financial aid office of the institution and they can explain what is available to you.

There is also a loan program called the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program in which the California State University system will provide you with loans of up to $10,000 per year for a maximum amount of $30,000 to pursue your doctoral education. Loans are repayable over a 15 year period. If you are selected for an instructional faculty position within the CSU system, 20% of your loans can be forgiven for each year of full-time, post-doctoral teaching employment in the CSU. This means, if you teach for 5 years in the CSU, 100% of your loans may not need to be paid back. There is no obligation to teach for the CSU, but the incentive of loan forgiveness is a big draw.


Fellowships are awarded to applicants based on academic merit by institutions or research organizations to recruit high potential students. Like scholarships, fellowships are prestigious awards that can be placed on your resume/curriculum vitae. Ask your future department or search the below databases to find fellowship opportunities. These databases also include scholarship opportunities.


If you are interested in part time or full time employment while attending graduate school, please check with the Career Development Center office for employment opportunities. Graduate studies, however, are rigorous, so make sure your future employer will be flexible with your schedule.

For More Information on Financial Assistance:

Peterson’ Review this portion of the Peterson’ website for a comprehensive overview of financial aid for graduate students.

University of California Financial Assistance: Click here for financial aid information specific to the University of California campuses.

Online Resources for Scholarships & Fellowships:

Contact the Fresno State Scholarship Office for scholarship opportunities that match your academic plans and visit the Division of Graduate Studies website for information on merit, need, and research based awards.

Review the Financial Aid Sourcebook prepared by the Division of Graduate Studies at Fresno State. is the most complete source of local scholarships, national scholarships, and college-specific scholarships.

Peterson’ also has a thorough scholarship database that can match opportunities with your financial and educational needs.

America’s Career Infonet

Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities

United Negro College Fund

The Sallie Mae Fund