5 Ways to Pay for Your Online M.Ed. in Counseling

Are you looking to advance your education to get ahead in your career or move into a new role with your school system? An M.Ed. in Counseling can get you where you want to be, but it can be hard to come up with tuition money on a teacher’s salary.

That doesn’t mean you can’t afford to go to grad school, however. Enrolling in an online program will allow you to keep working, so you can pay the bills and take care of your family. But while you may not be able to take advantage of graduate ‘assistantships’ as an online student, there are other ways to cut the costs of your online M.Ed. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you.

1) TEACH Grant

A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a form of federal student aid in which you must take certain kinds of classes to qualify and then work in high-need field in a low-income area. Otherwise, the grant becomes a loan. So, while the TEACH Grant may not be appropriate for everyone, it can be a great way to get free money for graduate school if you meet the requirements.

With the TEACH Grant, you can get up to $4,000 a year to go toward the cost of your online Master of Education in Counseling tuition. Check the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Area’s Nationwide Listing to find out if your area is experiencing a shortage of guidance counselors that could qualify you for the TEACH Grant, and then talk to your school’s financial aid counselor about whether your program qualifies for the TEACH Grant.

2) Tuition Reimbursement From Your Employer

If you’re working full-time, you may qualify for tuition reimbursement from your employer. Many schools and school districts provide financial assistance to help their teachers get master’s degrees. To approach your school or district about tuition reimbursement, plan a meeting with your supervisor to discuss it. In the meeting, make your case as to why you want an M.Ed. in Counseling and how earning this degree will benefit your school and your district. Then, ask about tuition reimbursement, and get the details of the program in writing.

3) The Military Tuition Assistance Program

If you’re an active duty member of the military, National Guard or Reserve Component, you can quality for the Military Tuition Assistance Program. The program will pay for up to 100 percent of tuition expenses for semester hours that cost $250 or less. You have to have enough time in your service to complete the course for which you’ve applied. If your active duty tuition assistance doesn’t cover the full cost of your tuition, you may be able to receive further assistance through the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

If you’re a veteran who has left the service within the last 15 years, you can also receive tuition assistance through the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Department of Veterans Affairs also administers other educational assistance programs for veterans.

4) Scholarships, Grants and Fellowships

Many graduate programs award merit-based scholarships, grants and fellowships, and you may receive one of these in your first or second year of school. Often, fellowships and other financial awards for graduate students are given out by the department, not by the financial aid office, so you’ll need to ask your advisor or graduate program assistant about award options. You can also look for external scholarships, fellowships and grants, which are those administered by entities not affiliated with your school.

5) Federal Student Aid

If you need money to pay for your M.Ed. in Counseling, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when you’re applying to programs. Completing the FAFSA will help you find out which federal grants and loans you’re qualified for. You could get free money, as well as low-interest subsidized or unsubsidized federal student loans.

An M.Ed. in Counseling could be just what you need to take your career to the next level, but finding the money to pay for it can be stressful. However, you have options. Most graduate students get some kind of assistance to help them pay for their degree, whether that’s federal loans and grants, military tuition assistance or scholarship and fellowship awards. Start exploring your options today, so you can get the money you need to build the career you want.