Is it ever too early to start preparing your finances for graduate school?
Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, the earlier you begin, the better your position will be once you begin your studies.
Here’s what you can do now:
- Save, save and save some more. The bigger your financial safety net, the better. So tuck away as much as possible – sooner rather than later.
- Pay off or down your current debt as much as you can. Existing debt adds to your monthly expenses. If you have student loans from a previous degree, you can typically defer payments while you are enrolled in a degree-seeking program. Check with your lender/loan servicer to confirm your loan qualifies for this benefit.
- Start living like a student – now. The cost of attendance (used to set the maximum financial aid amounts a student can receive) for UNC Chapel Hill includes around $2700 per month for living expenses for the 2019-2020 academic year. Try to get your expenses to fit within that budget and whatever you have leftover can be saved (see the first bullet!).
- Assume you will not receive a scholarship – not because you aren’t a competitive applicant, but because if you plan as if you won’t receive “free” money, you’ll have prepared other resources that increase your safety net.
- Know your student loan options. A high number of students leverage federal and/or private student loans to cover some/all of their graduate school expenses. Graduate students are also the population that is able to repay their loans successfully. UNC Kenan-Flagler assists our MBA and MAC students with their loan processing.
- Make a plan that works for you. Creating your roadmap will help alleviate stress later in the process so you can focus on other important tasks like, applying and being admitted to the program of your dreams!
By Susan Brooks, financial aid assistant director for full-time MBA and on-campus MAC students