Graduate and Professional Concerns Committee

 Graduate Early Awareness

Preparing for Graduate School

Order the "How to Afford Graduate School" brochure from ASA.

Organize any prior educational debt:

Know the lenders and servicers of all your student loans, and review the terms of those loans. Make sure all lenders and servicers have up-to-date address information.

Consider loan consolidation or lump sum pre-payment on existing student loans.

Request student loan deferment paperwork from all lenders/servicers. Once matriculated, deferment requests should be submitted to your graduate school for processing.

If you are having difficulty paying your student loans, request forbearance from your lender or servicer to keep you from defaulting.

Maintain good credit and communication with all lenders and servicers.

If currently in default, a minimum of six months is necessary before future eligibility can be restored.


Did you know that you might need to borrow a "credit-based" student loan to help finance your graduate or professional degree? Many students find that with even grants, work-study and federal loans they still need to borrow credit-based loans to help finance their education. What does it mean to borrow a credit-based loan? This can vary from lender to lender, but it generally means that a student must demonstrate that they have good credit or, in some instances, borrow the loan with a creditworthy co-borrower.

It is important to start thinking about your credit now, prior to enrolling in school. The first thing you should do is request a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (it is recommended that you do this annually):

Trans Union 800.916.8800
Experian 888.397.3742
Equifax 800.270.3435

In the event you find erroneous information on your report, you will need time to correct the information prior to applying for the credit-based loan. Also, receiving your credit report will give a you a strong sense of how many times your Visa bill is late….or your car loan is late! By reviewing your credit report early you may have time to establish the good credit you will need to qualify for a credit-based loan.


Now that you have reviewed your credit report, it may be a good time to pay off some of those outstanding debts and prepare yourself for living on a much tighter budget! Take time to consider what you can do without! Do you really need those nice dinners that you have been charging or that CD player you just bought? Being able to pay off as much debt now, and to save as much money now, will make your life much easier when you return to school.

Consider the essentials when creating a budget for graduate school:

Expenses: (include figures for the entire academic year)

Tuition & Fees __________

Books & Supplies __________

Rent __________ (remember that you may be moving to a new area)

Utilities __________ (electric, oil, water, telephone, cable)

Food __________ (groceries)

Transportation __________ (car payment, repairs, gas, parking)

Insurance __________ (auto, home, life, medical, dental)

Misc. Loan Payments __________ (consumer, student)

Dependent Care Expenses __________

Clothing __________ (will you need to buy seasonal

Recreation __________ (movies/entertainment)

Other Misc. Expenses __________ (job search)

Total Expense __________

Financial Aid/Assistance

Be sure to contact the Financial Aid Office at your prospective school early to request the appropriate financial aid application material.

Federal Stafford/Direct Loan __________ (subsidized and unsubsidized)

Federal Perkins Loan __________

Federal Work Study __________

Grants/Scholarships __________

Assistance from family __________

Savings __________

Total Financial Aid /Assistance

If you find you have a gap between your total expenses and your total financial aid/assistance (total expenses minus total financial aid/assistance), you may need to consider a credit-based loan. You are encouraged to contact your financial aid office to discuss the different credit-based loans they offer. Again, plan ahead and apply for your credit-based loan early.

Do the following to have your credit and budget in order prior to enrolling in school:

  • Request your credit report, review and established good credit if need be.
  • Pay off as much debt as possible and save as much as possible.
  • Establish a realistic budget.
  • Contact the financial aid office to request the appropriate application material.
  • Determine if you will need to apply for a credit-based loan.


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