Money-Saving Ideas For Furthering Your Education Post-Undergrad

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Four cupcakes with white and brown frosting and decorations of a pencil, a chalkboard, a book, and an apple.

Going to graduate school is a sweet move—if you have a way to pay for it.

I have been job searching since graduating. Now, I’m feeling the pressure to find work from my parents, but more so from my wallet—thanks to student loan payments kicking in.

I’ve begun weighing options that can help me land work, including going back to school. But, with a tight budget, furthering my education seems hard. So, I rounded up some less common ways to keep learning post-undergraduate without completely breaking the bank.

If you’re in the same boat, check out this quick information to see if these options may work for you.

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1. See If Your Work Will Pay For It

If you have found a job, check out if they offer any compensation for post-graduate courses. Your work might pay for your higher education for a number of reasons, like the skills you’d gain would be in their best interest or they simply offer this benefit to their employees.

Employers can pay for your schooling in a few different ways, including paying up to a certain dollar amount, paying an amount based on your GPA, or just paying in full in general. Ask your employer if they offer this, and find out how their compensation works. Be ready to negotiate if they have any flexibility.

2. Get A Certificate Or License Instead

Furthering your education doesn’t always have to be about getting a degree. Degrees can cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, you may be able to achieve your educational goals without one. Not all jobs require a degree—you’d be surprised what professions require only a certification or license.

As I’ve previously said, I am interested in working for a book publishing company. The jobs I want don’t require additional education; however, getting a certification would put me above other applicants.

Someone who previously worked in the publishing industry told me a certificate was just as good as a master’s in the field—at a fraction of the cost. I might be able to get a certification for around $3,000, while going for my master’s could cost over $20,000.

3. Join The Military

Although each branch has its own way of paying for your schooling, many times the military will help you pay for continuing your education. Another bonus from joining the military is that as long as you and your loans qualify they could help you pay your student loans as well. SALT™ has a great eBook that covers the financing options available for service members, veterans, and their families.

Of course, be sure that you don’t enlist just to further your education or to get help paying back your loans. Do your research before you sign up. Remember, you are serving your country and could be moved around a lot, depending on the branch and your job in the military.

4. Volunteer With Peace Corps/AmeriCorps

Volunteer opportunities like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps can provide financial aid and scholarships to further your education. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it seems most times you need to have been a previous volunteer to qualify.

On the bright side, this information is very useful for previous volunteers or college students planning to volunteer. Further research for other volunteer opportunities that offer some sort of funding for higher education might be required.

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Hopefully, this information will help you save some money if you decide to continue your education for a graduate degree. There are probably even more options, so be sure to do your research and decide which is best for you.

Know of any other ways that you can save money while pursuing higher education? Tell us in the comments!

(Photo: clevercupcakes)

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  1. Courtney Buohl July 23, 2014 / 9:30 am

    If you’re interested in getting your master’s in education, there are graduate programs that will grant you a cost-free master’s degree if you teach at an affiliated elementary, middle, or high school. PACT at Providence College and ACE at Notre Dame do this, and ACE will defer or possibly even cancel your loans. I have friends in both programs and even though their living stipends aren’t huge, they’re saving a ton of money on grad school tuition.

    • Brigit July 23, 2014 / 1:48 pm

      Wow, that is great information! Thank you so much Courtney. That is a great way to save money while pursuing your graduate degree in education. Also, it sounds like another benefit of those programs are that you get experience in the workforce and teaching while furthering your education. A great addition to your resume after the master’s.

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