Author Topic: Future Grad Student, what to do?  (Read 5442 times)

linguy

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Future Grad Student, what to do?
« on: April 30, 2015, 11:36:56 AM »
Hi all, recently discovered this site, it's awesome! Thought I'd ask this here because it seems like people know what they're talking about..

Anyway, I am going to be a grad student in the fall, for (hopefully) 1.5 years. Tuition is 11K per semester, so about 33K in total. I was offered a fellowship for 10K so I still have 23K over the next 1.5 years I gotta borrow. Right now I'm working full time until August, making 1600 a month and paying off student loans (total about 7.4K) which are about 3.5% interest.

I've been allowed to take up to 20K federal loans for this coming year at 6.5%. I have about 6K saved and my family is graciously going to help me cover living expenses this next year, so expenses shouldn't be that bad. I'm still looking into working part time or hopefully eventually student teaching which would cover tuition.

What do you guys think I should do? How much should I borrow? I was thinking about paying off as much of the undergrad loans as possible, but then those will be in deferral until I graduate. Meanwhile the grad loans will still collect interest while I'm in school, so maybe I can try to pay those off while I'm still in school?

Jack

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 12:19:01 PM »
I chose to be a part-time grad student, with the trade-off that I have to pay super-cheap tuition ($134/credit hour + $300/semester fees) but can keep my full-time software engineering job (which pays a Hell of a lot more than being a TA or GRA would).

However, if you're going full-time, then you should absolutely be a TA or GRA and thus not have to pay tuition. Forgoing "real job" income and having to pay tuition IMO just doesn't make good financial sense.

(And if you're not good enough or that major doesn't have enough demand for you to get hired at such a position, then you should re-think whether that program is right for you in the first place. After all, if the department can't even afford to hire GRAs, what does that say about the job prospects for graduates?!)

DecD

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2015, 01:15:14 PM »
What field will you be studying?

I had fellow students who would find TA positions in various departments- we were in aerospace, but the TA slots for aero classes would fill up quickly.  Lots of folks TAed in the foreign language departments (if they were fluent) or in the math department. 

So- shop around for TA-ships across the university.  Or get a part-time job off campus.  I bet you could find something in town that would earn you 23K in 1.5 years. 

midweststache

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 01:39:54 PM »
What field will you be studying?

I had fellow students who would find TA positions in various departments- we were in aerospace, but the TA slots for aero classes would fill up quickly.  Lots of folks TAed in the foreign language departments (if they were fluent) or in the math department. 

So- shop around for TA-ships across the university.  Or get a part-time job off campus.  I bet you could find something in town that would earn you 23K in 1.5 years.

Alternately, see if you can get a fellowship in the administrative departments (the Graduate School, Student Affairs, etc.) Not only will you still get your tuition wavers (depending on the university) but you'll have marketable administrative, organizational, and/or program management skills that academics often lack when they go on the market.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 01:43:29 PM »
I would not quit a job to go to grad school if you can't get a TA position that pays living expenses and waives your tuition.

Can you keep working? I worked full time through grad school, and so I had to pay the full tuition myself with no assistantship, but being able to keep a job with a much higher salary than the assistantship would have provided meant I was able to pay for the school without hardship (well, I also had no life- so nothing to spend money on) or loans.

justajane

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2015, 01:57:34 PM »
What's the field? How much do you already have in student loans from your undergraduate degree? Those are the two most important questions here.

It sounds like you have already decided, but as someone who went to graduate school myself, I would really encourage you to do the ROI on this decision. In most fields, it really doesn't pay to go to grad school. My two cents - don't go to graduate school unless they are paying for it and you don't have to take out loans, especially not for tuition.

For 1.5 years of fun, challenging, or whatever adjectives you want to use to describe this, experiences, you are going to be in quite a hole financially, factoring in both your undergraduate and graduate loans.

linguy

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2015, 06:24:30 PM »
If I can get a TA job, it won't be until winter semester, so for sure I gotta pay for fall semester.

I can work part time at my job, as much as I wish. Idk if I'd want to work full time though, that sounds like death..

midweststache

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2015, 07:12:33 PM »
Idk if I'd want to work full time though, that sounds like death..

This highly depends on your field. Humanities? Yeah, probably death. That's nothing but read and write. I find there are some graduate programs that are more amenable to full-time work (BF's MPP was, some MBAs are, etc.)

Daleth

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2015, 07:15:42 PM »
Let me third or fourth the question: what field is your proposed master's degree in? What are the job prospects for it? We can't give decent financial advice without knowing that.

linguy

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2015, 01:00:55 PM »
It's Industrial Engineering. It's very versatile, finance fields, health care, factories, statistics

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2015, 01:07:58 PM »
Is this an M.Eng.? I haven't seen those get people much in the workplace, even from top schools.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2015, 01:37:55 PM »
I can work part time at my job, as much as I wish. Idk if I'd want to work full time though, that sounds like death..

I wouldn't call it death, but working full time and carrying a full course load (I didn't do that every semester- some I did a half load; half-load was easy) was 18 hours of non-stop work.  No weekends, no nights out, nothing but either work or school.

I remember watching TV a few months after finishing school and wondering why it had been so long since I watched TV. Then I remembered I used to do homework.

GreenPen

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2015, 02:14:10 PM »
I would stop paying more than the minimum on your undergraduate loans. They are at a lower interest rate, and -- if these are federally subsidized loans -- they will not be accruing interest when you are in grad school and they are deferred.

In the meantime, you can save up for grad school so you don't need to take out as big of a loan at 6.5%.

Oh, and congrats on the 10k fellowship!

mozar

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2015, 04:23:06 PM »
What I did was take out the loans and paid it off as soon as possible after graduating.

linguy

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2015, 01:41:56 PM »
I would stop paying more than the minimum on your undergraduate loans. They are at a lower interest rate, and -- if these are federally subsidized loans -- they will not be accruing interest when you are in grad school and they are deferred.

In the meantime, you can save up for grad school so you don't need to take out as big of a loan at 6.5%.

Oh, and congrats on the 10k fellowship!

This is true, they are subsidized, so I guess I won't worry about paying them yet. Maybe I should ask my family to just help pay for what my fellowship can't cover.

squatman

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2015, 08:56:06 PM »
What's the goal of the grad program (for you)? Do you have specific jobs in mind that you can get with that degree that an extra year or two of experience can't get you? Will it get you a raise that more experience won't? Is it totally different training that unlocks a completely different field to what you're currently qualified to work in?

These aren't the questions you asked, but I just want to make sure they have answers of some sort before you go ahead with this (spoken as a PhD who has taken 2 jobs that didn't really need said PhD).

linguy

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Re: Future Grad Student, what to do?
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2015, 10:02:30 AM »
Yes, considering I currently work in a credit union, I would say the Masters would help with more analytical skills