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How to Pay for a Social Work Masters Degree

Considering Graduate Education?  How to Pay for a Social Work Master’s Degree

An important factor to consider in your pursuit of a career in social service is how to pay for a social work master’s degree (MSW).   An MSW degree will call for a significant investment of your time and finances.  There are many options that make these investments manageable, so it’s vital to research and evaluate your resources and choices prior to making a decision.  Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Step One: Decide What is Important to You

The cost of MSW programs varies widely.  Contributing factors include modality (Is it a campus-based or online program?) and type of university (is it a for-profit college?  A state institution?  A private university?).  And when you’re considering these factors, it’s important to remember the value you’re receiving for your investment.  For example, are the following features important to you?

  • High national rankings
  • Flexibility
  • Small, interactive classes
  • Faculty involvement and reputation
  • CSWE Accreditation

If so, you’ll need to choose a program that fulfills those requirements and aligns with your budget.  There are affordable options, such as The Catholic University of America’s online MSW program, that meet these criteria. 

Step Two: Learn about Ways to Pay for a Social Work Master’s Degree

Federal student aid is one of the primary ways that MSW students finance their education.  Students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – a quick and easy process at the graduate level – to learn whether they qualify for financial assistance.

Many students take advantage of tuition reimbursement opportunities with their employers.  Your human resources department can let you know if your organization offers tuition benefits.  Occasionally, MSW students can also find paid field placements.  Though most placement agencies provide unpaid internship experiences, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask an agency if a stipend or paid placement is available.

In addition, some MSW alumni work in locations that qualify them to receive Public Service Loan Forgiveness.  Graduates who work in government organizations or certain non-profit agencies, and who make qualifying payments toward their student loans, can have the rest of their loan balances forgiven.  Certain states or companies may offer additional loan forgiveness options.

Scholarships may also offset tuition costs.  At the graduate level, many scholarships are specifically designated for a certain category of students.  For example, they might be available to MSW graduates who plan to work with a particular demographic or specialty area.   

Step Three: Apply!

After you’ve completed your application package for an MSW program, it’s time to begin applying for financial aid and scholarships.  It’s best to take care of the FAFSA application as soon as possible so that, once you’re ready to begin classes, you know exactly how your tuition will be paid.  If you’re applying for the online MSW at The Catholic University of America, you can request more information, or call 855-295-5711 to learn more about financing your MSW degree.