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Guide to Public Health Programs Online with Financial Aid

Looking to enter the public health field, but not sure you can afford college? These top online public health programs offer financial aid opportunities that ease the burden.

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A scientist wearing a hazmat suit, face mask, and protective glasses is examining a sample using a microscope. There are blue liquid-filled test tubes and beakers on the laboratory bench in front of them.

As a student, your main focus should be on tests, projects, papers, research, and homework. However, for many learners, financing your degree is one of your top concerns. Education can be expensive; if you’re passionate about public health but concerned about the costs, you’re definitely not alone.

Whether you’re aiming to become a public health educator, epidemiologist, or policy analyst, finding a program that supports you financially is crucial. The good news is that numerous online public health programs offer unique financial aid opportunities. These can help you achieve your academic and professional goals — without breaking the bank.

Universities often offer their own scholarships, grants, and loans to support bright new students looking to advance in public health. Other schools may not have their own aid programs but accept other forms of financial aid, such as federal grants and loans.

Whatever options you’re considering to fund your studies, this guide was created to help you navigate financing your public health degree. We’ll show off some top online public health programs with their own financial aid and explain how it all works. By the end, you’ll have a clearer picture of how you can pursue a fulfilling career in public health while staying on top of your finances.

School Spotlights: Public Health Degrees with Financial Aid

Choosing the right public health program is vital, especially when financial aid is a key factor. Below, we’ve highlighted several high-quality master’s in public health (MPH) programs that are known for their strong financial support. Scholarships, grants, fellowships, and more are just some of what these schools offer as part of an affordable MPH program.

Baylor University

Baylor University offers two 42-credit Master of Public Health degrees, one wholly online and the other on campus. Prospective students can apply for need-based grants, merit-based scholarships, and federal student loans.

Besides accepting aid granted through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as College Scholarship Service awards, Baylor also offers its own financial aid programs. The first is an assistantship, which is only available to full-time, on-campus MPH students. Full as well as partial assistantships are available for eligible students.

Several scholarships are available for students in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, including MPH students. The von Waaden Family Endowed Scholarship is for students who have shown exemplary service and leadership, the Larry and Katherine Pritchard Endowed Scholarship is for first-generation college students, and the Russell Family Endowed Scholarship is for students in the Austin, Texas, area.

Work-study programs, such as the Yellow Ribbon program for military veterans and their families, and other forms of financial aid are all widely utilized at Baylor.

Boston University

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Boston University’s online Master of Public Health is known for its academic excellence and strong financial aid support.

The online program costs $24,000 to complete, whether you finish as quickly as possible or delay it to focus on other commitments. This is great for part-time students as you won’t pay extra to take your time in completing the program.

This fixed price does come with a catch: You aren’t eligible for Boston University’s institutional scholarships. However, federal financial aid is still an option and you can apply for external scholarships.

If you choose to pursue an on-campus public health degree, you’ll find a variety of scholarship opportunities through the Boston University School of Public Health, such as the Dual Degree scholarship or the Boston University Women’s Council scholarship.

The George Washington University

The Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University (GWU) has a Master of Public Health online program with a unique offer: an automatic $10,000 scholarship for all students who enroll.

The online public health program is very flexible, with accelerated courses that let you finish in as little as one year, standard full-time courses, or part-time options that allow up to five years of study. You may take up to 15 on-campus credits if a hybrid program suits your educational needs. Plus, GWU’s MPH is a no-GRE program.

Additionally, there are plenty of financial aid options, as GWU both hands out institutional grants and accepts federal aid. Each year, over $20,000,000 worth of scholarships fund students’ studies. Need-based grants as well as assistantships and fellowships are available.

Yale School of Public Health

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The Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) offers an on-campus and online Executive Master of Public Health program. While tuition at one of the top schools in the country can be steep, there’s no lack of financial aid opportunities here.

For one, every student in the Executive MPH program receives a $10,000 scholarship. Those in the health informatics track are automatically considered for an additional $28,000 merit-based scholarship, and students from Mexico are considered for a $30,000 Overlook International Foundation Scholarship.

You don’t need to apply for any YSPH scholarships; you’re submitted for consideration automatically upon becoming a student. You’ll also want to explore public health fellowships and the option for employment on campus to pay for any fees you can’t cover with a scholarship.

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As a student, you’ll encounter several types of financial aid as you research options to fund your studies. Let’s explore the three most common forms: scholarships, grants, and loans. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so oftentimes the best strategy is to pursue a combination of them.

Scholarships

Scholarships are a valuable source of financial aid for public health students. Awarded based on academic merit, leadership, or specific interests in the field, scholarships come from private organizations, public health institutions, or universities themselves.

Unlike loans, scholarships don’t require repayment, making them the ideal form of financial aid. Some scholarships may fully fund your studies on their own; in other cases you may need to pursue multiple smaller scholarships to cover the cost.

As a public health student, look for scholarships tailored to your focus area, such as epidemiology, health policy, or global health.

Grants

Grants are a form of need-based financial aid that students can receive from the federal or state government, universities, or private organizations. Grants also don’t need to be repaid; however unlike scholarships, they’re solely given to students who demonstrate financial need.

Grants may come with terms or requirements in addition to demonstrating need. You may be required to pursue a certain field of education or, as with the TEACH Grant, agree to work as a teacher in a low-income school.

Public health students might be eligible for grants that specifically support health-related studies, research projects, or community health initiatives.

Loans

Most people can’t afford to pay for education outright, so student loans have emerged as a common form of financial aid. These require repayment, often with interest, after graduation.

Federal student loans are available and typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. The government may pay interest on your loans if you demonstrate financial need.

When other forms of aid don’t fully cover the cost, loans are the final option. For those pursuing careers in public health, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is available. This program forgives the remaining loan balance after a certain number of years working in public service.

How Can You Get the Most Out of Financial Aid?

Securing financial aid opportunities requires careful preparation and attention to detail. While every school and scholarship will have its own requirements, the checklist below is a good starting point for most financial aid applications.

Complete the FAFSA Early

The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal financial aid. Accessing need-based grants, loans, and work-study opportunities requires you to complete the forms. The FAFSA is only unnecessary if you’re solely pursuing merit-based aid (and in some cases your school may still require it).

Public health students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to ensure they’re considered for all available aid. You’ll need to gather the necessary information and submit your application online. Check the school or schools you’re interested in for FAFSA deadlines.

Thoroughly Review Eligibility Criteria & Requirements

Understand the specific requirements for each financial aid opportunity you’re pursuing. Knowing these details helps you identify the best matches for your needs and not waste time on grants or scholarships you’re not eligible for.

You should review all eligibility criteria on your university’s or aid-granting institution’s website or contact their financial aid offices to ensure you meet all qualifications before applying.

Check Deadlines and Apply Early

Deadlines aren’t standardized; every financial aid opportunity you apply for will have a different application deadline. Failing to meet these deadlines will result in your application being thrown out.

Create a timeline or calendar of all your deadlines, and aim to submit applications well in advance. Doing this avoids last-minute issues and ensures you have all your information in order.

Gather all of the Necessary Documents

Financial aid applications require various documents, such as tax returns, identification, and academic records. Having these ready to go will simplify the application process, especially when applying for multiple forms of financial aid.

Create a checklist of required documents for each form of aid and gather them ahead of time. This goes hand in hand with applying early; that way, if an application requires extra documents that you don’t already have on hand, you won’t be taken off guard and you’ll have sufficient time to gather what you need.

Receive Feedback on Supplemental Materials

Essays and statements of purpose are critical components of many applications. High-quality submissions can significantly improve your chances of success.

Seek feedback on these documents from mentors and peers, especially those in your network who are also in the public health field. Use their feedback to refine the materials and ensure your answers are clear and concise.

Review Award Letters

Award letters detail the financial aid package offered to you. Fully understanding these offers helps you make an informed decision on the best aid to pick.

Review each award letter, considering the types and amount of aid offered in each package and any stipulations. If you need help, a financial aid advisor can assist you in understanding the terms and conditions.