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Scholarships, Grants, Loans: Understanding Your Graduate School Funding Options

Written by Baylor School of Social Work Team on 11.7.19

Choosing to pursue a social work degree is an important decision, and one that often comes with several different considerations. Which concentration should I pursue? Which license will help me accomplish my professional goals? Where should I earn my degree? And how will I finance it?

That last question often gives prospective students pause, but the good news is there are a plethora of options to help you finance your MSW. Read on as we outline some of the different types of financial aid that can help you move forward and take on this degree with confidence. 

Explore many of Baylor University's financial aid opportunities with our  downloadable infographic!

Understanding FAFSA

Before discussing the different types of aid, you need to understand FAFSA. 

The FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the way in which the Federal government evaluates your eligibility for loans. You submit an application with your data (and sometimes your parent’s information as well) and the government creates a snapshot of your need, as it relates to your overall financial picture. 

The FAFSA helps determine exactly how much financial aid you’ll need overall, and where it should come from. You’ll want to complete this application first, as many other sources of aid rely on the FAFSA data to help them make a decision in financial awards. Most public, state, federal, and even private aid sources require you to complete the FAFSA before requesting aid. 

After completing the FAFSA, you can apply for as many different financial aid awards as you would like! As a general rule, the more scholarships and grants you apply for, the higher your chances of receiving one are. Here is an explanation of the main financial aid sources used by students at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.


Scholarships are merit-based funds that are related to your field of study, your personal characteristics or achievements, where you’re from or where you’re going to school, and many other factors. The benefits of scholarships include: they do not need to be paid back, there are frequently lots of options out there, and many are relatively easy to apply for. One drawback is, there are often requirements, such as a minimum GPA or other stipulations, to keep the funding. 

To make the most of your time and resources, scour the web looking for scholarships that you are qualified for and then submit quality applications to as many as possible. The more you apply to, the greater your odds of earning one are. Check out these scholarships for those earning their social work graduate degree.

Additionally, the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work offers a number of departmental scholarships, specifically to MSW students in the program. Check out this infographic for the three primary scholarship opportunities, and view the complete list of departmental scholarships to see if you’re eligible to apply. 


Grants are sources of student funding that don’t have to be paid back. They are usually need-based (meaning you’ve demonstrated need through your FAFSA application) and they can be from federal or state governments, the school itself, or other private entities. A good place to begin your grant search is on the MSW program website or through your home state. Grants can also be offered by schools in exchange for part-time work or employment. You can also browse this list of federal/national grants for MSW students.

The benefits of grants are that they reduce your cost of education, do not require any repayment, and are often need, rather than merit-based. The drawbacks include - they may be more competitive to acquire and will not always cover the full cost of your degree. If a grant alone doesn’t offer you enough funding, you will need to seek out a combination of financial aid sources.

Currently, the Garland School of Social Work at Baylor has 12 positions that are funded by grants. These are opportunities for students to work with professors on research in their particular area of interest. 


These are funds from a lending institution, designated for the sole purpose of paying for tuition and education-related needs. Loans can come from federal, state, or private sources, and must be paid back. Loans should be used as a third option for funding, after exploring available scholarships and grants. When choosing the best loan for you, be sure to compare the terms of the loan including pay-back details, interest rates, and more. 

Loans are the easiest source of funding to secure and there are numerous sources willing to offer you the aid. However, the drawback is that you must have a strong plan in place for repayment, beginning the month that you graduate. 

100% of Baylor MSW Students Receive Financial Aid

At Baylor, we are committed to stabilizing student tuition costs in order to make it more affordable to obtain your MSW. That is why we are proud to offer every student to the residential MSW program a financial aid package. One of the ways we do this is through our tuition remission program — offsetting the flat-rate cost of your education with institutional aid that will not need to be repaid upon graduation. 


It’s great to know you have a variety of options when it comes to financing your degree. If you have any questions, our admissions professionals are here to help you get the information you need to make your best next step. Hopefully, knowing the help is out there will help you feel confident that this program is within your reach. If this is your calling, we are committed to helping you make it happen! 

To learn all about Baylor's financial aid options for MSW students, explore and download our infographic! 


Posted by Baylor School of Social Work Team

We are the admissions team at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, at Baylor University. We believe social work is about service and justice; it is about the dignity of individuals and the power of relationships; it is about integrity and competence, and our mission here is preparing social workers to do these things well. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a degree in social work!




If you're interested in learning more about the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and the programs we have to offer, we invite you to reach out to our team! 

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