How can I better plan to apply for graduate programs?

How can I better plan to apply for graduate programs?

Choosing to continue with education beyond a Bachelor’s degree is a huge investment. Even after researching the tuition and fees of potential programs, there are other hidden costs that can be unexpected and add up quickly. Here are some hidden fees to know about especially when considering applying to graduate programs:

  • Standardized testing is expensive. Depending on the kind of degree you are interested in and the standardized test required, the costs can range between $200-$250. To take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), the fees start at $205 and can increase based on where you live.1 The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) starts at $2502 while the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) costs $200.3 There are also additional fees to send scores to graduate programs. For example, to send a GRE score it costs $27 per transaction.4 To get a better idea of how much the application process will cost, factor in the fees associated with taking and sending test scores while planning.
  • Application fees can vary from school to school. To apply to a graduate program, schools will charge an application fee. According to US News, the national average for application fees in 2019 was $43.5 Stanford University had the highest cost of $90 and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s graduate schools charge $70 to apply.6 Depending on how many programs you apply to, the costs can quickly add up so be sure to research and compare application fees. If you find the application costs are more than you budgeted for, try narrowing down the number of programs you apply to.
  • Tuition assistance and waiver opportunities vary within departments and schools. Depending on the department you want to join or based on the funding available for certain projects, graduate assistantship and fellowship positions can vary as well as the benefits available. Some involve tuition waivers, stipends, or tuition scholarships, the University of Illinois Graduate College has a page dedicated to their opportunities7, so be sure to check with your specific program before applying. Before applying, look into the opportunities the school has to offer before spending money on the application and test fees to determine if there are the right opportunities for you.

When applying to graduate school, there are many hidden costs students can encounter. By researching and preparing for these expenses and other unforeseeable ones, you can start your graduate program search on the right foot. Try looking into some of these fees and see how it goes!

Written by Hilary Pham, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Fall 2019. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.