Grad schools should offer better financial aid for their students

Cate Boller, Reporter

Although going to college is an accomplishment in and of itself, attending graduate school is a feat that goes above and beyond.

Part of the reason this is such a big deal is because it’s a big expense. There is a lack of financial aid offered to graduate students–meaning students have to commit to a hefty investment.

Master’s degrees average between $30,000 and $120,000 in the U.S., according to FinAid.org.

By no means am I under-appreciating the achievement and hard work that comes with completing an undergraduate degree, but I do believe graduate school isn’t as accessible and it’s becoming increasingly necessary to compete in the professional world.

According to an article by U.S. News & World Reports, those who earn Master’s degrees earn salaries “38.3 percent higher than those who only possess a bachelor’s degree in the same field.”

However, I believe graduate school isn’t as accessible for students because of the lack of financial support the institutions offer through grants, loans, scholarships and financial aid. It doesn’t compare to what’s offered to those pursuing undergraduate degrees.

For example, here at California Lutheran University, one credit in a graduate program can cost up to $1,140. Not for the whole class, but just one credit.

Most classes average between three to four credits per term, so if you take one three-credit course, it would cost $3,420. Then consider having three to four classes per term at that rate or more. You can see that the numbers start to add up quickly.

I think it is outrageous that institutions have no issue offering financial support to get through four years of college at the undergraduate level and then cut students off when they are trying to achieve a graduate education. Some people may really need that additional degree to succeed in their field of study, but aren’t able to afford it.

Considering the current job market due to COVID-19, having a graduate degree is going to be even more sought after because there are already limited positions available for recent college graduates and employers will want to hire the most educated applicants.

“More and more people are getting their Bachelor degrees so it makes it that much more competitive so for you to stand out you have to do all these extra things,” said Andreas Nybo, a current senior at Cal Lutheran who will begin attending graduate school in March.

Investing in graduate school is a calculated risk, but it’s one that many feel they have to take in order to obtain a suitable, well-paying job.

“For students like us where we’re going directly into grad school I think there definitely should be a lot of financial aid offered just because we don’t have a stable job and haven’t been working for multiple years so we don’t have the financial backing,” Nybo said in a Zoom interview.

With that being said, if you are already enrolled at Cal Lutheran, the school waives the entrance exam into their graduate program if the applicant has a GPA of 3.0 or higher, as well as waiving the application fee, according to current Cal Lutheran graduate student Brandon Danziger, who is studying Finance.

“I think they should offer a little more aid and I think it should be coming from the school because I know that a lot of these people are going to be giving back and I think it will benefit them in the long run with their endowment and other things because these people are going to have more earning potential in the short run,” Danziger said in a Zoom interview.

Deciding to attend graduate school is a give and take. You spend a lot in hopes of earning a lot more in the long run, but the cost should never be something that deters people from obtaining a degree that could be critical for their profession.

Graduate school is expensive, but I truly believe if graduate school administrators made it more affordable with grants and scholarships for aspiring students, then those schools would get a larger return on investment in the long run.

There is a chance to help so many students achieve a graduate degree if only institutions would try harder to offer them the financial support they need to do so.