Most students in doctoral programs in psychology and other academic areas receive some financial support. Full support (sufficient to cover tuition and provide a small salary) is the norm after the first year. In general, medical, law, and business schools provide much less support, but they balance the cost with the expectation of higher incomes later. There are typically three sources of funding for graduate school:
- Student loans. Your bank can tell you about special low interest educational loans (such as the Guaranteed Student loan) that are not paid back until after you finish school.
- Teaching or research assistantships. You will work part-time in a laboratory or classroom to earn an assistantship. Clinical programs may have clinical assistantship positions in hospitals and clinics associated with the department. The stipends typically cover tuition and a modest standard of living. Another form of support often linked to assistantships is the tuition waiver or a partial waiver in the form of charging out-of-state students in-state tuition.
- Fellowships/Scholarships. Fellowships do not necessarily require that you work to earn them, which allows you to take courses full-time. They generally provide more money than assistantships, and are also relatively rare.
Graduate school costs are high, but your greater earning power with an advanced degree makes it a good investment. Tuition at private universities can be very expensive, state universities usually have much lower costs. Many programs have financial aid geared to need, but you might not know what you qualify for until after you are accepted. Most programs consider all applicants for financial assistance. Your financial need should not affect your chances of acceptance.
Even if no departmental support is available, they may be able to help you find a job a local hospital or clinic. Try to get assurances from the department on an outside job or assistantship before accepting admission. After the first year, most students have suitable assistantships or jobs.
The descriptive material from the school should indicate what proportion of students receive full or partial financial support. If you have questions, do not hesitate to call the program office.