Financial Aid and Scholarships for TESOL Students

Now you’ve decided to progress your TESOL or ESL career by studying for an MA, MEd or other graduate degree, there is the very important question of finances. Even if you do not have enough available now, don’t give up: there are many different sources of funding including government grants and financial aid programs.

Before you start, make sure that you have correctly assessed the cost of your study: in the US, the cost of tuition will vary for residents of a state compared to non-residents and non-nationals.

Secondly, take a look at our list below but also speak to the college or university that you would like to apply to – they should have information about additional sources of financial aid.

Almost all accredited schools (including those listed on this site) provide full details and lots of help about finding and applying for financial aid.

To start off, request a free information pack from colleges that interest you. These contain details on how the college or university can help.

Top 10 list of sources of scholarships and financial aid

1. Federal and Government Financial Aid

Almost all governments offer financial aid for study – and many countries offer prospective students scholarships or grants for continuing study programs such as an MA in TESOL. For example, in the US the FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Student Aid) assesses each prospective student on merit and awards differ case to case.

2. Loans

There are several potential sources of loans including commercial sources (such as banks), government sources (such as a subsidy from the government), or private sources (borrowing from your family or friends). Try the government subsidies first since they often do not require you to start paying back the loan or interest until after you graduate: the financial center of the college or university will have details of appropriate subsidies available in your state or region.

3. Scholarships

Some scholarships are available from a few universities or colleges – normally in the form of a discount on the fees. You should speak to the college before you apply for the course to check when and how to apply for any scholarship. Some charitable international organisations also offer scholarships to students.

4. Assistantships

These offer to offset the cost of the course with your time in working directly for the university or college (normally on a part-time basis). For example, if you are studying for an Masters in TESOL your assistantship might be to teach business English to students on another course. These vary a lot between colleges and universities so best to ask directly with the institution.

5. Military

The military in many countries, including the US, offer funding for studies. Your local military recruitment office can provide more details.

6. Continue your current job with Distance Learning

Online or distance learning provides a good way to study for a graduate degree at your pace and in your time. This is particularly useful if you need to continue to work in your current job to fund your studies.

7. Personal loans

Probably the least attractive source of loans for many people, but your family might be able to help support you even if they cannot contribute towards the cost of the course.

8. Employer loans

Many large employers offer employees a loan or sabatical to continue studies. There is normally a requirement that you have worked for the employer for a certain number of years and that you have to repay the loan if you leave the employer shortly after completing your new qualification.

9. Work as a student

Much like Assistantships, you enroll as a student but the local government regulations allow you to carry out paid work without invalidating your student status. You must check with the local tax and college offices to be sure that you are eligible to do this.

10. Exchange student placement

You enroll to your local college but then organise an academic exchange with a university or college in another country. This can, sometimes, work out cheaper due to agreements between universities – and your academic work is credited back to your original course.


To start off, request a free information pack from colleges that interest you. These contain details on how the college or university can help.


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