You've probably shelled out big bucks to pay for your undergraduate degree, and if you want to start graduate school, you might be worried that you won't be able to pay for it. You can certainly apply for student loans and scholarships, but you don't have to stop there. Plenty of unconventional ways exist to raise the funds necessary to pay for an advanced degree.

Investigate work study programs. These are like traditional jobs, but any earnings you accumulate go directly toward paying for college costs, including tuition and books. For example, the federal work study program grants you a certain number of hours in a job related to what you're studying, such as teaching or social work. Many graduate schools have a collection of work study opportunities in their financial aid offices, and they are available to any student enrolled at that school.

Ask your employer for help. Many employers have advanced degree benefits but don't necessarily advertise them. Check with your employer and you might get as much as 50 percent of your degree paid for. Some employers will even foot the entire bill if you're pursuing a degree that will benefit their bottom line.

Do community service or work in an occupation that might earn you loan forgiveness. Many loan companies, including federal student loan companies, offer loan forgiveness for a certain number of hours of service. These are often available to public service providers such as teachers in low-income schools, police officers and firefighters.

Go into business for yourself and sell your wares or services. You might walk dogs in your neighborhood, babysit or sell homemade soap and lotion online. Think about what you're good at and what you enjoy and turn that hobby into a money-making venture. Use your income to pay for graduate school-related costs.

Find investors. Certain online sites, such as Lily's List and Gradefund, allow you to post your profile and invite others to help you fund your education. These kind of websites allow you to ask investors for funds to help you pay for graduate school

Become a researcher. Many large companies will pay you to do research for them to learn more about competing products and target market. This research could involve studying market trends and creating reports or administering surveys to customers and compiling that data. Some of the firms are also willing to pay for a portion of your degree in exchange for a certain amount of service.

Study abroad. Some overseas colleges offer free or reduced-cost courses to students who are willing to teach English to other students. Find out about current opportunities through the financial aid office at these universities.


While applying for scholarships isn't an unconventional way to pay for graduate school, many unconventional scholarships are also available. Examples include money for being able to speak the Star Trek language Klingon, for showing off your ability to be a duck caller and for being a candy taster.

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