Tag Archive for 'scholarships'

Ask Test Masters: Cost of Attendance and GRE Scores for an International Graduate Student

ASK TMAsk Test Masters is a free informational service offered by the experts at Test Masters; you ask, we answer. Shravan, an international student interested in attending graduate school in the United States and abroad, has a few questions about admission requirements and the cost of attendance. Shravan writes,

“I’m pursuing a Bachelor’s in Information Technology (3rd year, 2nd semester) and would like to earn my MS in the U.S. or another country. My question is: my average is 60% aggregate and my financials are also not good; if I get a good score on the GRE can I get into at least an average university? Also, which university has the lowest fees for a semester? How much should I pay in total for an MS in the U.S., and how much money will it cost in total? Please give me some suggestions!!!”

Dear Shravan,

Let’s talk financials first. The total cost of your graduate education will depend on a number of factors – Better known schools are more expensive than less well known schools, private schools are more expensive than state schools, and certain degree programs are more expensive than other degree programs. Other factors, like the cost of living and financial aid, can impact your total cost of attendance, but are indeterminate. Universities regularly release helpful information regarding tuition and living expenses online, so getting a general idea of how much graduate school will cost is really only a Google search away. Let’s take a quick look at two examples of what different types of universities may cost.

Rice

Rice University is often called “The Harvard of the South.”

The University of Texas at Austin is a well-regarded state school, and generally considered a great value because of its high ranking and low cost. The cost per semester, when taking 12 hours of course work, for an Information graduate student who is a non-Texas resident at UT Austin is $10,830. Now consider Rice University, one of the United States’ premiere private research universities; the tuition for a full-time graduate student, regardless of residency status (though international students will have to pay certain fees that may affect the total cost of attendance), in the 2012-2013 academic year is $34,900. Notice that the cost of tuition is significantly higher at the private university than the state university. If you would like to do a detailed search of graduate universities by cost, this website is very useful. To get an idea of what your total tuition costs may be, simply research the cost per semester and multiply by the number of semesters it will take to obtain your degree.

In order to qualify for federal financial aid, international students are required to be US citizens or have permanent resident status, which, of course, makes financial aid for international graduate students extremely rare and very competitive to obtain. That said, it is not impossible to obtain financial aid as an international grad student; edupass.org is an excellent resource to understanding your options when it comes to financial aid. There is also the possibility of obtaining “work-study” employment, where you work for the university (as a Teacher’s Assistant or in some other capacity) for a small stipend to help pay for living expenses and tuition costs.

If you are worried that your grades might not be good enough to get you into your university of choice, there are a number of options available to you on how to mold yourself into a competitive graduate school candidate. You can learn more about getting into graduate school with a low GPA here. Remember, a higher GPA improves your chances of being admitted to the graduate school of your choice and drastically increases the likelihood of you obtaining a scholarship or financial aid.

GRE logo

The GRE is administered by the ETS.

In terms of standardized test scores, you should be focused on two things: the TOEFL and the GRE. The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, is mandatory for international students; its primary purpose is to determine whether you are fluent enough in English to communicate effectively in a classroom environment. You can register for the TOEFL here.

Before pinning your hopes of attending graduate school to achieving a near perfect GRE score, you have to realize the GRE is hard. This exam is designed to challenge people who are not just academically talented, but motivated to succeed. If you need an excellent GRE score to have a chance of getting into your college of choice, the best piece of advice we can offer you is prepare. Practice, study, review and then practice, study, and review some more. You can learn more about how to make your study habits more effective here.

International students are at a disadvantage when it comes to GRE preparation as professional exam preparation is not as widely available internationally as it is domestically in the United States. One excellent resource to consider is a GRE online preparatory course like the one offered by Test Masters.

We hope this helps, and let us know if you have any more questions!

Ask-Test-Masters

Have a question? Ask the experts at Test Masters!

 

Test Masters offers the most comprehensive GRE preparatory course available. Learn more about professional exam preparation here.

Funding Graduate School: Where’s the Money and How do I Get It? Part 2

It probably doesn't exist...

Hello again! As a follow-up to the previous discussion about funding, I’d like to share some more information for people, such as myself, who are in an alternative financial situation during their graduate school. First and foremost, it’s not the end of the world to be in something other than a fully funded PhD program! There are options out there to avoid acquiring a gazillion dollars of student loan debt while living off of Ramen noodles and Spam for 2-7 years. FYI, don’t mix the two.

Continue reading “Funding Graduate School: Where’s the Money and How do I Get It? Part 2” »

Graduate Assistantship: One Student’s Experience

Assistance needed!

Graduate assistantship (GA) is a great way to help deal with the financial stresses of graduate school. Some schools will not only waive tuition — they’ll even pay you to go to school with monthly stipends! Needless to say, getting a GA is something that every prospective grad student should be thinking about.

Here’s an interesting post about one student’s experiences getting graduate assistantship during his first semester in grad school. Although it’s written by an international student, the principles are applicable to all students looking to get financial assistance from their schools. Click the following link to read the article.

“How To Get Graduate Assistantship in First Semester — Student Experience, Tips”

From the post:

Find out who’s the person responsible for appointing GAs and get in touch with him/her. Don’t directly show your interest in being appointed, go slow. E.g., if the person is an Advisor, seek help in deciding on the courses, getting to know the department and start showing interest in his work. If it’s a professor, ask him about his works, research interests, etc. In the conversation, get to know him, show your interest in learning new things, and show that you have strong communication skills. In short, tell him you have got whatever he wants in a potential GA and later tell your interest in the position and state how it will corroborate to achieve your goals. A person in the second sem has more chances of getting a GA because he is already there for one sem and people know him. So, by letting the concerned person know you, you are putting yourself to the same level as that of a student in the second sem.

The point that the author is making is that visibility and demonstrated interest are key. You’re going to be competing with other current students who are already known by the professors, so your best bet of getting early assistantship is to reach out and communicate with advisors so that they can get a feel for who you are and why you qualify. It’s already an important part of the research process to bounce around some emails to ask questions about programs anyway.

Financial Considerations for Graduate School

I wish.

Man, applications are a lot of work.  I figured that it’d be easy to recycle essays for each application, but so far, the essay prompts have been different enough to warrant completely new responses each time.  It’s not like I’m saying something totally different — it’s just that the questions are phrased such that each essay doesn’t really focus on exactly the same topics.

This whole process has been more grueling than I expected.  Fortunately, the hardest parts are over now.  I have two essays from which to draw content for my next essays, and all my recommendations have been sent in, which means no more stressing out about outside forces — probably the biggest relief of all.

At this point, my next biggest concern is probably my financial future.  I know I’ll probably have to take out a student loan at some point, but I am clueless as to what that means.  I don’t even know my credit score.  Additionally, I need to look into scholarships and what kinds of financial assistantships my various schools offer.  I’ve also thought about getting a job at school, but some graduate programs place a limit on the number of hours students are allowed to work outside of school in order to ensure that their primary focus is on research — be on the lookout for these kinds of restrictions!

Continue reading “Financial Considerations for Graduate School” »