Financial Aid for Criminal Justice Students

If you’re interested in getting a degree in criminal justice you may be worried about the cost and that is definitely understandable. Many are worried about the return of investment they will get from a degree in this area, but there’s no reason to be alarmed. Luckily, there are many financial aid options available to you. It’s important to understand the financial aid process before getting involved and potentially struggling with debt and not being prepared. The following is a guide to help you understand your financial aid options and how to best situate yourself for success in the long-term.


Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of student financial aid in the United States. They provide more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year. More than 15 million students use Federal Student Aid to help them pay for their education and it largely contributes to the accessibility of attending college in contemporary society.

The first step in applying for Federal Student Aid, or all aid in general, is to fill out a FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA will determine how much money you can receive in forms of scholarships, grants, and loans. Many times, they also are the source for administering aid to students.


There are a variety of government loans you can apply towards your criminal justice education. Staying on top of how to attain these is crucial to financing an education. Some of the most common criminal justice government loans include:

  • Stafford Loans: This is the most common form of criminal justice financial aid. Stafford loans are administered from FAFSA to help students and the federal government even subsidizes up to a certain amount of these. Types of Stafford Loans include the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program.
  • PLUS Loans: These loans are also paid through the FFEL and Direct Loan programs, but are geared towards parents rather than students. Parents must apply for these loans and include paying back immediately upon being approved. This not only curbs interest, but ensures that parents have a low-cost way of supporting their children as they engage in the financially daunting endeavor of attending college.

Federal Work Study Programs:

Federal work study (FWS) programs are a popular way for criminal justice students to receive financial aid. FWS supplements your college loans, so it therefore reduces the amount of money you need to repay after graduation. Typically the jobs entail working for the university to some extent, many times though a job can be attained that is fairly relevant to their degree.

Through FWS programs you receive a work-study job from your school; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit company. There are many lucrative options and include helping establish yourself in the community you’re working in.

  • Grants and Scholarships: Grants and scholarships are both great sources for financial aid because you don’t have to pay this money back. Scholarships can be competitive and are usually given out with specific regulations, such as ethnicity, past GPA, gender, or other qualifiers, but luckily there’s an incredible amount of them available.

For criminal justice students, criminal justice professional associations are the best place to look for scholarships. It’s the most accessible way to locate those in the field looking to help students and also provides a great amount of networking opportunities. The Police Corps in your state may offer scholarships, but this varies significantly from state to state. Always keep your eyes peeled for different avenues to pursue when it comes to grants and scholarships.

PhD in Criminal Justice Online Programs

Walden University PhD: Criminal Justice PhD: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security PhD: Criminal Justice - Admin PhD: Criminal Justice - Law & Policy Walden University › Walden University is a provider of higher education, focused more on offering master and doctorate degrees like the PhD in Criminal Justice with several specializations available like Law and Public Ploicy or Homeland Security. Walden is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has almost 50,000 students enrolled currently.
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Northcentral University PhD: Business Admin - Criminal Justice DBA: Criminal Justice MBA: Criminal Justice Northcentral University › If you want to take your Criminal Justice career further, Northcentral University has several options available. The two doctorate programs it offers are the PhD in Business Administration in Criminal Justice and the DBA in Criminal Justice (Learn more about the differences between the programs by contacting the school with the links provided).
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Purdue University MS: Criminal Justice Purdue University › Purdue University is one of the most recognized names in higher education with over 53,000 students currently enrolled. The school does not offer PhD programs in criminal justice, but there are several master-level degrees that will be required on your way to earning a PhD. These include the MS and MPA in Criminal Justice along with a specialization in Corrections.
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Liberty University MBA: Criminal Justice MSCJ: Public Administration Liberty University › Liberty University is a long-standing college with its roots tied to academic integrity and excellence. Liberty has now added online programs to its course offerings in order to better serve its students, including an MBA in Criminal Justice as well as a MSCJ in Public Administration. Boston University is a private, research university with over 31,000 students enrolled online and on-campus.
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