Author Topic: advice on how to approach going back to school  (Read 2272 times)

southernhippie

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advice on how to approach going back to school
« on: December 02, 2015, 06:40:24 AM »
I am a registered nurse and I am hoping to be going to nurse anesthesia school in the next year.  I am doing this because I aspire to be in that field and I will also go from a salary of $50,000 a year to around $120,000 starting out.  This will help speed me along to FI by my mid 30s which is my goal( I am 27 by the way).  What i am asking is how should I financially prepare for school because I will not be able to work at all and my wife is part-time, her salary around 38,000?  We also have a 17 month old child as well.  School loans will put me back 30-60 grand depending on where i get accepted.  Here is my financial layout

Debts

Mortgage-$109,000 left ( I still have PMI which I am trying to pay of the principal as fast as I can do get rid of)

Assets

Bank account checking etc- 11,000

combined IRAs from spouse and myself -10000

my 401k- 25,000 (current 12% contribution with a 6% match from employer)

Vanguard investments- 10,000

So my plan right now is to pay mortgage principal to get rid of PMI.  Then save/invest everything else.  I don't see how I can do school without student loans, but I do plan to pay those off first when I get out of school.

rubybeth

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Re: advice on how to approach going back to school
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2015, 06:58:56 AM »
A few thoughts:

1) Try to get accepted at the cheapest school. $30k vs. $60k is huge. If you only have to pay $30k for this, that's ideal.

2) Practice living on just your wife's income. Use your income to pay down mortgage and save. Honestly, I'd probably just save and leave the PMI alone, but that's just me. Others with mortgages will likely chime in on this. To me, it seems like paying off Peter to just borrow more money from Peter later. If you can avoid taking out loans, or take out less in loans, that's ideal. Keep in mind that you don't just pay interest on student loans, you also pay an origination fee and maybe other fees, depending on the lender.

3) If there are any programs that would allow you to get a graduate assistantship or similar job, do it. Apply for scholarships, fellowships, anything to get extra funding for school.

4) If there is any way you could work even a few shifts per month while in school, do it. Sub, on-call, weekends, whatever. If that's not possible, do everything you can to be frugal in as many ways as you can think of: avoid eating out, cut all non-necessities, etc. 

5) One other thought: make sure you aren't paying too much in income taxes. How will you know you're paying too much? If you get more in refunds than you have in credits. Adjust withholding for your wife's income when you quit your job--with only her income, your tax bill will be lower, and you can have more money in her checks each month. I recently realized this for me and my DH (he quit his job in the summer to do grad school full time), and it's been really helpful.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 07:01:23 AM by rubybeth »

FrugalFan

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Re: advice on how to approach going back to school
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 07:07:50 AM »
A few thoughts:

1) Try to get accepted at the cheapest school. $30k vs. $60k is huge. If you only have to pay $30k for this, that's ideal.

2) Practice living on just your wife's income. Use your income to pay down mortgage and save. Honestly, I'd probably just save and leave the PMI alone, but that's just me. Others with mortgages will likely chime in on this. To me, it seems like paying off Peter to just borrow more money from Peter later. If you can avoid taking out loans, or take out less in loans, that's ideal. Keep in mind that you don't just pay interest on student loans, you also pay an origination fee and maybe other fees, depending on the lender.

3) If there are any programs that would allow you to get a graduate assistantship or similar job, do it. Apply for scholarships, fellowships, anything to get extra funding for school.

4) If there is any way you could work even a few shifts per month while in school, do it. Sub, on-call, weekends, whatever. If that's not possible, do everything you can to be frugal in as many ways as you can think of: avoid eating out, cut all non-necessities, etc. 

5) One other thought: make sure you aren't paying too much in income taxes. How will you know you're paying too much? If you get more in refunds than you have in credits. Adjust withholding for your wife's income when you quit your job--with only her income, your tax bill will be lower, and you can have more money in her checks each month. I recently realized this for me and my DH (he quit his job in the summer to do grad school full time), and it's been really helpful.

This is excellent advice on all points. Go with the cheapest program that will get you the right certification, try to get scholarships or assistantships, cut your expenses to the minimum, and do a bit of work on the side if you can. I think I also agree that saving up for expenses is better than paying off your mortgage more quickly. The fewer loans you take out the better financial shape you will be in when you are done your program. We've had two kids and for both we saved up ahead of time to cover some of our expenses while on parental leave. With a bit saved up to cover expenses, you might be able to get by on your wife's salary except for the cost of tuition.

Bearded Man

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Re: advice on how to approach going back to school
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2015, 10:34:59 PM »
Cut expenses drastically while in school. Get a job as a night security guard. Money and health insurance while you study...take on room mates.

southernhippie

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Re: advice on how to approach going back to school
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 05:32:40 AM »
this is all great advice.  The only thing I cannot do is work while in school.  The school programs discourage this and every person I have spoken to that has gone through this type of program says you cannot work while in school and be successful in the program.

rubybeth

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Re: advice on how to approach going back to school
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2015, 06:29:48 AM »
this is all great advice.  The only thing I cannot do is work while in school.  The school programs discourage this and every person I have spoken to that has gone through this type of program says you cannot work while in school and be successful in the program.

That's how the final year of my husband's program is, too, and many people I know went through programs exactly like that (physician assistant, speech language pathologist, etc.) so I totally understand. The internship and credit load just makes working impossible, since school is basically your job. One thing my husband did while leading up to this point was work as much as possible; he picked up extra shifts for many months so we could save that cash for tuition. We're able to live on my salary and still pay for tuition with no loans, but my salary is higher than your wife's and we don't have children.

Also, have you done the FAFSA yet to see what your expected contribution might be? It can help you get an idea of how much you'd be able to borrow, and you will also want to shop around for lenders, as well. Some have lower fees. If you can, avoid private loans and only go with the federal loans, if you need loans at all.