Author Topic: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?  (Read 7724 times)

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« on: June 28, 2016, 09:43:21 PM »
You've probably seen worse, but as a 20-year-old just awakening to the Mustachian world (thanks to my Senior Mustachian SO, who is on track to retire within a few years), I am feeling pretty hopeless. This enormous amount of student debt I've borne since I graduated college is steadily increasing with its high interest rates and causing me to see a very bleak future, tied eternally to a soul-sucking job and neverending commute.

I hold two bachelor degrees. Full scholarships paid my way, but I had the misfortune of heavily abusive yet well-off parents who mismanaged money and were always in the red. They forced me to take out the maximum amount of student loans for living expenses so that they could continue their exorbitant lifestyle. As soon as I was legally an adult, I got myself out of there, accepted the help of police and the court system, and began rebuilding my life...with $137k in debt, steadily growing every day.

Now, with talk of marriage, a desire to free myself from financial burden, pursue my own interests, and be able to enjoy life with my wonderful SO, I believe the student debt is my greatest obstacle. Currently, my salary is only around $40k. I would be able to increase it by pursuing a professional degree of ~2 years, which would put me in at least $60k more debt just for tuition. This degree could potentially allow me to work at a nonprofit (i.e. hospital), and thus make me eligible for the federal loan forgiveness program; I would pay 10% of my income every month for 10 years, and the rest would be forgiven. I do have one private student loan that would be exempt from this, but I intend to refinance & attack it ASAP. Meanwhile, I could contribute whatever remained to retirement, and hopefully have paid off debt + saved for retirement by the end of 10 years.

Do you see any big, shocking holes in my plan, or think the professional degree would still be a waste of time and money? Do you have any suggestions on what I can do?

Thank you.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 03:33:36 PM by GreenScallop »

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9533
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2016, 09:57:34 PM »
Don't do this.

You don't need to get another degree or work for a hospital in order to qualify for the non-profit federal student loan forgiveness program -- working for any government agency (local, state or federal) or any 501(c)(3) organization qualifies you.  There are also a whole slew of other "public service" positions that qualify.

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#qualifying-employment.

Even without going into non-profit work, it won't take you that long to pay off your debt if you keep your expenses low and put your mind to it.  Yes, you are only earning 40k now -- but you can work hard and get raises and promotions, or even change career track, without going further into debt.  And presumably, if your partner loves you and wants you to share his FIRE journey, he will help you with the payoff.  And with cutting your expenses further by sharing resources.

I'm sorry you went through what you did and that you have this debt, but you are only 20 and you have lots of years of great earning potential ahead of yourself.  I just don't think that going back to school and incurring another 60k+ in debt is the right choice in your situation. 

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 617
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2016, 09:58:44 PM »
What professional degree are you considering? How does the work that you would find with that degree differ from your current position?

It all depends on the expected salary of the new career, the ease of finding work in the new field, and whether you'll stick with the new career long enough to reap the rewards.

madmax

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Bay Area
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2016, 12:30:15 AM »
What lhamo said but also think big, 60K is a step up from 40K but it still isn't a lot of money. Can you get into a profession where you have a high likelihood of making a six figure salary? Software developers, QA, IT, nursing, oil.

137 K is a lot of money when you are making 40K but not as much if you are making six figures not to mention being a dual income family. My wife and I saved that much in a couple of years making about 150K on an average.

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2016, 06:57:32 AM »
How the heck did you get $137K in debt before you were 18 and able to get yourself out of that tangled web?

Don't go further into debt.  What field do you work in?  What are your bachelor's degrees in?

Suit

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 273
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2016, 07:09:40 AM »
Have you thought about getting a second job or working a side hustle rather than going into more debt for another degree?

Miss Piggy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1307
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2016, 07:41:14 AM »
So...you're already deeply concerned/bothered by the debt you have. And you're considering adding to it, for a whopping total of over $200,000? Then you're hoping to get a job at a not-for-profit organization, which often means less pay than you would make at a for-profit company.

IMO, this doesn't sound like a good plan unless the advanced degree is highly likely to lead to a six figure salary in a very short timeframe.

You've made great strides to get to where you are. Please don't further burden yourself (and subsequently your SO if you two end up together) with owing more money and burying yourself under more debt. Keep chipping away at the debt you have. Try to get a job at a not-for-profit with your current education (and get into that government loan forgiveness/repayment program). Or better yet, keep working your way up the ladder with promotions and raises, pay off your debt yourself, and screw the government forgiveness program because you can get shit done faster than 10 years.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2016, 07:42:18 AM »
Don't do this.

You don't need to get another degree or work for a hospital in order to qualify for the non-profit federal student loan forgiveness program -- working for any government agency (local, state or federal) or any 501(c)(3) organization qualifies you.  There are also a whole slew of other "public service" positions that qualify.

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#qualifying-employment.

Even without going into non-profit work, it won't take you that long to pay off your debt if you keep your expenses low and put your mind to it.  Yes, you are only earning 40k now -- but you can work hard and get raises and promotions, or even change career track, without going further into debt.  And presumably, if your partner loves you and wants you to share his FIRE journey, he will help you with the payoff.  And with cutting your expenses further by sharing resources.

I'm sorry you went through what you did and that you have this debt, but you are only 20 and you have lots of years of great earning potential ahead of yourself.  I just don't think that going back to school and incurring another 60k+ in debt is the right choice in your situation.

Thanks for the reply! I wasn't having much luck finding public service/nonprofit jobs I qualify for and that pay much, though. The nature of my current job makes it pretty hard, if not impossible, to get raises - to increase my salary I'd have to get another job. That's why I was considering the degree, which opens up a lot of job possibilities and has a salary anywhere from 70k (at least) to over 100k.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2016, 07:43:40 AM »
What professional degree are you considering? How does the work that you would find with that degree differ from your current position?

It all depends on the expected salary of the new career, the ease of finding work in the new field, and whether you'll stick with the new career long enough to reap the rewards.

I am considering a physician's assistant or nursing degree; both would be master's, and seem to have great job opportunities and growth rate (as well as high salaries). I'd enjoy either enough to continue working for at least 10 years.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2016, 07:44:50 AM »
What lhamo said but also think big, 60K is a step up from 40K but it still isn't a lot of money. Can you get into a profession where you have a high likelihood of making a six figure salary? Software developers, QA, IT, nursing, oil.

137 K is a lot of money when you are making 40K but not as much if you are making six figures not to mention being a dual income family. My wife and I saved that much in a couple of years making about 150K on an average.

I meant 60k for the tuition, not income :) The professions I was considering were physician's assistant and nursing, which have pretty good salaries. I'd only consider going back to school if it raised my earning potential to six figures.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2016, 07:46:36 AM »
How the heck did you get $137K in debt before you were 18 and able to get yourself out of that tangled web?

Don't go further into debt.  What field do you work in?  What are your bachelor's degrees in?

Abusive parents and the police.

My useful bachelor is in science, but jobs with just a BS in that field are extremely low-earning - most people go on to do a professional degree. I was thinking nursing or physician's assistant.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2016, 07:49:11 AM »
So...you're already deeply concerned/bothered by the debt you have. And you're considering adding to it, for a whopping total of over $200,000? Then you're hoping to get a job at a not-for-profit organization, which often means less pay than you would make at a for-profit company.

IMO, this doesn't sound like a good plan unless the advanced degree is highly likely to lead to a six figure salary in a very short timeframe.

You've made great strides to get to where you are. Please don't further burden yourself (and subsequently your SO if you two end up together) with owing more money and burying yourself under more debt. Keep chipping away at the debt you have. Try to get a job at a not-for-profit with your current education (and get into that government loan forgiveness/repayment program). Or better yet, keep working your way up the ladder with promotions and raises, pay off your debt yourself, and screw the government forgiveness program because you can get shit done faster than 10 years.

Yes, but only because the degrees I'd get - in nursing or physician's assistant - would allow me to work at a hospital or other nonprofit healthcare institution for a good salary. I'd absolutely love to be able to pay it off in less than 10 years but I also want to retire, and with my current education it seems a bit hopeless that I'd find a decent-paying job that allows me to to do both.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2016, 07:50:25 AM »
Have you thought about getting a second job or working a side hustle rather than going into more debt for another degree?

Yes, definitely! I just can't see my income going much higher right now. Maybe I could get a full-time job paying $50k, and perhaps a side gig for $18k, but that's it and unlikely.

Daleth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2016, 07:58:25 AM »
What lhamo said but also think big, 60K is a step up from 40K but it still isn't a lot of money. Can you get into a profession where you have a high likelihood of making a six figure salary? Software developers, QA, IT, nursing, oil.

137 K is a lot of money when you are making 40K but not as much if you are making six figures not to mention being a dual income family. My wife and I saved that much in a couple of years making about 150K on an average.

I meant 60k for the tuition, not income :) The professions I was considering were physician's assistant and nursing, which have pretty good salaries. I'd only consider going back to school if it raised my earning potential to six figures.

It takes a 2-year masters to become a PA, right? Is that all it would take you--like, do you have the necessary prereqs? And how long would it take to become a nurse, and do you have the prereqs?

My understanding is that PAs earn more than nurses and the job is easier, particularly the hours. But I'm not sure of that (it's something for you to research), nor am I sure how hot the market is and is likely to remain for PAs.

Miss Piggy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1307
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2016, 08:01:04 AM »
So...you're already deeply concerned/bothered by the debt you have. And you're considering adding to it, for a whopping total of over $200,000? Then you're hoping to get a job at a not-for-profit organization, which often means less pay than you would make at a for-profit company.

IMO, this doesn't sound like a good plan unless the advanced degree is highly likely to lead to a six figure salary in a very short timeframe.

You've made great strides to get to where you are. Please don't further burden yourself (and subsequently your SO if you two end up together) with owing more money and burying yourself under more debt. Keep chipping away at the debt you have. Try to get a job at a not-for-profit with your current education (and get into that government loan forgiveness/repayment program). Or better yet, keep working your way up the ladder with promotions and raises, pay off your debt yourself, and screw the government forgiveness program because you can get shit done faster than 10 years.

Yes, but only because the degrees I'd get - in nursing or physician's assistant - would allow me to work at a hospital or other nonprofit healthcare institution for a good salary. I'd absolutely love to be able to pay it off in less than 10 years but I also want to retire, and with my current education it seems a bit hopeless that I'd find a decent-paying job that allows me to to do both.

Ah, okay...this additional information is extremely helpful.

I think you can't go wrong with nursing, especially with an advanced degree. Same may be true for PA.

How much does a starting RN make these days? How quickly will the increased salary pay for the $60,000 loan to get it, plus time off from work/earning while you earn the degree?

TheOldestYoungMan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 750
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2016, 08:01:25 AM »
I think you can probably attack that tuition figure a bit. 30k/year seems pretty steep.  If you can find a program where you can be a graduate teaching/research assistant you might manage to get tuition covered + a stipend + it might count towards the 10 years.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2016, 08:04:19 AM »

I meant 60k for the tuition, not income :) The professions I was considering were physician's assistant and nursing, which have pretty good salaries. I'd only consider going back to school if it raised my earning potential to six figures.

It takes a 2-year masters to become a PA, right? Is that all it would take you--like, do you have the necessary prereqs? And how long would it take to become a nurse, and do you have the prereqs?

My understanding is that PAs earn more than nurses and the job is easier, particularly the hours. But I'm not sure of that (it's something for you to research), nor am I sure how hot the market is and is likely to remain for PAs.

Yes, it's usually about 2 or 2.5 years for PAs and nurses. I already have most of the prereqs (PA is a bit more of a pain and I need to take 2 or 3 more classes), but due to application deadlines I'd probably have to apply next year and begin in 2018...

PAs do tend to have better hours and salaries for sure. Both careers have great markets right now.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2016, 08:07:46 AM »
Ah, okay...this additional information is extremely helpful.

I think you can't go wrong with nursing, especially with an advanced degree. Same may be true for PA.

How much does a starting RN make these days? How quickly will the increased salary pay for the $60,000 loan to get it, plus time off from work/earning while you earn the degree?

Both degrees do seem to have pretty good job markets and outlooks. An RN with a master's in my area starts with at least 70k, and after 2-3 years of experience it's closer to 100k. PAs have slightly higher salaries. If I do the loan forgiveness program, it would be 10 years and I'd save quite a bit of money, but otherwise it really depends on the living costs of the area I'll be in.

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 617
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2016, 08:14:51 AM »
Both of those sound like good, practice options. Have you spend any time in the human medical field? I'd definitely do that before committing to anything... because good pay and good hours won't mean much if you hate the working conditions.


crentist

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2016, 08:19:21 AM »
I think you are looking at this completely backwards.

DO NOT get a degree and rely on getting the gov't to forgive your debt.  It could be a back-up but plan on paying back the loans yourself.  You never know if that program will continue.

Choose a career that you will excel at, but also is financially rewarding.  You will be happier, make a ton more money and will work longer into your life(part-time if you choose) if you dont mind going to work.

Just seems like a huge decision and your foundation is govt reimbursement....scary

I have many friends with biochem degrees who make fine salaries.  started low but they definitely increase with experience

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2016, 08:23:26 AM »
How the heck did you get $137K in debt before you were 18 and able to get yourself out of that tangled web?

Don't go further into debt.  What field do you work in?  What are your bachelor's degrees in?

Abusive parents and the police.

My useful bachelor is in science, but jobs with just a BS in that field are extremely low-earning - most people go on to do a professional degree. I was thinking nursing or physician's assistant.

I got that your parents abused the situation and you escaped it with the help of the police, but was that 137K all from a single year of school?  Did you start college early?

Have you considered biotech project management?  It's pretty lucrative, and getting the PMP certification is quick and cheap.

TheOldestYoungMan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 750
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2016, 08:26:58 AM »
DO NOT get a degree and rely on getting the gov't to forgive your debt.  It could be a back-up but plan on paying back the loans yourself.  You never know if that program will continue.


Oh yea, never forget, the gov't could as easily pass a law saying you have to pay the full amount back at once, or increase the withholding to 25%, or any other horrible change.

If it works out great, but don't rely on a group with a proven track record of fiscal irresponsibility.  Congress is like your parents but the police can't help you escape them.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2016, 08:50:30 AM »
Both of those sound like good, practice options. Have you spend any time in the human medical field? I'd definitely do that before committing to anything... because good pay and good hours won't mean much if you hate the working conditions.

Yes, I've spent enough time to know I will enjoy it. Perhaps not as much as my non-practical bachelor's degree, but enough to keep working there without wanting to quit.

Smokystache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 329
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2016, 08:52:10 AM »
Willing to relocate so you could get up to $50k of your PA student loan forgiven by working in a high-need area? (I'll confess I didn't read the details).
http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loanrepayment/

Overview of different scholarships, etc. here:
https://www.aapa.org/threecolumnlanding.aspx?id=1225

I agree with other posters who suggest that a PA has some great income prospects. With baby boomers retiring in droves and insurance companies always looking to cut costs (pay a PA instead of an MD), I can't imagine that demand will drop.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2016, 08:52:41 AM »
I think you are looking at this completely backwards.

DO NOT get a degree and rely on getting the gov't to forgive your debt.  It could be a back-up but plan on paying back the loans yourself.  You never know if that program will continue.

Choose a career that you will excel at, but also is financially rewarding.  You will be happier, make a ton more money and will work longer into your life(part-time if you choose) if you dont mind going to work.

Just seems like a huge decision and your foundation is govt reimbursement....scary

I have many friends with biochem degrees who make fine salaries.  started low but they definitely increase with experience

I am definitely considering that possibility, so I will try to get into the school with cheapest tuition and hopefully get some kind of scholarship/grant. Nursing or PA are both careers that fit those criteria. Biochem or other hard sciences bore me out of my mind and do not provide fulfillment for me, unfortunately...

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #25 on: June 29, 2016, 08:55:05 AM »

I got that your parents abused the situation and you escaped it with the help of the police, but was that 137K all from a single year of school?  Did you start college early?

Have you considered biotech project management?  It's pretty lucrative, and getting the PMP certification is quick and cheap.

Yeah, I started early. That's from two bachelor degrees. Biotech is definitely a field I've considered, but advisors I had in that area told me it was getting pretty difficult to find a decent job so they kept raising the requirements. Some prefer PhDs. I also don't think I would enjoy it too much - I wish I did!

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #26 on: June 29, 2016, 08:56:47 AM »
Willing to relocate so you could get up to $50k of your PA student loan forgiven by working in a high-need area? (I'll confess I didn't read the details).
http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loanrepayment/

Overview of different scholarships, etc. here:
https://www.aapa.org/threecolumnlanding.aspx?id=1225

I agree with other posters who suggest that a PA has some great income prospects. With baby boomers retiring in droves and insurance companies always looking to cut costs (pay a PA instead of an MD), I can't imagine that demand will drop.

Yeah, I've definitely looked into that! I'd be happy to. It would only make sense to do that, though, if I didn't do the loan forgiveness program or it got cancelled for whatever reason. From what I've seen so far, the demand is pretty good. :)

onlykelsey

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2172
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2016, 09:06:13 AM »
Both of those sound like good, practice options. Have you spend any time in the human medical field? I'd definitely do that before committing to anything... because good pay and good hours won't mean much if you hate the working conditions.

Yes, I've spent enough time to know I will enjoy it. Perhaps not as much as my non-practical bachelor's degree, but enough to keep working there without wanting to quit.

Agreed that you're looking at it a bit backwards.  I think you should definitely be looking to increase your salary, and going in to training to be an RN or PA seems to make sense given your background and interests.  But I would not go in to a career because of the possibility of maybe having your loans forgiven (or maybe not, or maybe only until Congress changes).  If you're making 80 or 100K a year, knocking out your debt will not be all that painful.

I think you should find a higher paying career that interests you (RN or PA seems great!), and in the interim year or two before it starts, work at a side hustle and finding alternate ways to pay for it.  My best friend is a nurse, and she has paid for very little of her schooling.  There seem to be incentives available.  I believe one arrangement she had was working as a home aid with an entity associated with a hospital (for maybe 10/hour) in exchange for them picking up tuition, for example.

LAL

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #28 on: June 29, 2016, 09:28:21 AM »
Do the RN or PA.  BS in science won't pay enough unless you hit pharma/biotech.  But can you do it cheaper than $30k/year?

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2016, 09:34:46 AM »

Agreed that you're looking at it a bit backwards.  I think you should definitely be looking to increase your salary, and going in to training to be an RN or PA seems to make sense given your background and interests.  But I would not go in to a career because of the possibility of maybe having your loans forgiven (or maybe not, or maybe only until Congress changes).  If you're making 80 or 100K a year, knocking out your debt will not be all that painful.

I think you should find a higher paying career that interests you (RN or PA seems great!), and in the interim year or two before it starts, work at a side hustle and finding alternate ways to pay for it.  My best friend is a nurse, and she has paid for very little of her schooling.  There seem to be incentives available.  I believe one arrangement she had was working as a home aid with an entity associated with a hospital (for maybe 10/hour) in exchange for them picking up tuition, for example.

Oh, I'm definitely going into it more for the career - it just also allows me the option of loan forgiveness should that program stay around, in addition to a higher salary. I plan to use next year to complete any prerequisites individual schools require, and hopefully save up as much as possible. I'll look into those arrangements for tuition. Thanks!!

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #30 on: June 29, 2016, 09:36:43 AM »
Do the RN or PA.  BS in science won't pay enough unless you hit pharma/biotech.  But can you do it cheaper than $30k/year?

Yeah, the BS is pretty useless right now. Tuition for these programs is pretty expensive, with the exception of a few - per onlykelsey's suggestion, I'll look into some kind of employer-paid tuition benefit, and maybe consider a non-federal loan forgiveness program in exchange for working in underserved communities.

randymarsh

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1374
  • Location: Denver
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #31 on: June 29, 2016, 10:29:21 AM »
How is your debt structured? 137K is way more than an undergrad could take out by themselves unless you got a ton of private loans. In which case forgiveness won't be available.

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #32 on: June 29, 2016, 10:53:36 AM »
How is your debt structured? 137K is way more than an undergrad could take out by themselves unless you got a ton of private loans. In which case forgiveness won't be available.

This is why I was asking about if all the loans happened before you were 18.  Let's say you were 16 when you started.  That would be 2 years of school for you could get into debt, if you got out as soon as you were legally an adult at 18.  IDK, I guess it doesn't matter much how it happened, you now have $137K in loans.  But I just don't understand how it got so high.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #33 on: June 29, 2016, 11:30:56 AM »
How is your debt structured? 137K is way more than an undergrad could take out by themselves unless you got a ton of private loans. In which case forgiveness won't be available.

This is why I was asking about if all the loans happened before you were 18.  Let's say you were 16 when you started.  That would be 2 years of school for you could get into debt, if you got out as soon as you were legally an adult at 18.  IDK, I guess it doesn't matter much how it happened, you now have $137K in loans.  But I just don't understand how it got so high.

I was much younger than 16 when I started. It was more than 4 years for the debt to accrue.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #34 on: June 29, 2016, 11:31:41 AM »
How is your debt structured? 137K is way more than an undergrad could take out by themselves unless you got a ton of private loans. In which case forgiveness won't be available.

I was also a graduate student for about 2 years after graduating. I've been in school for a very long time, and the majority is federal debt.

notactiveanymore

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 212
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #35 on: June 29, 2016, 03:32:47 PM »
I'm always baffled by some of the numbers people throw out for nursing salaries. Around here, in the middle of the US, RNs make about $23/hr or $45k a year. It doesn't go up significantly with experience at all. And in your first year it's $21/hr. There are some shift differentials for overnights and weekends, but it's not significant. You're definitely under 50k even if you have been working 5 years and you work weekend nights.

Keep in mind that although you'd be getting a master's, you're just pushing toward your RN, so you're going to get paid the same as other BSN/RN people. You have to have an RN and BSN before you get a Nurse Practitioner Masters.

Here is the BLS info on median nursing wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm#st

If you're set on going back to school, I'd definitely recommend the PA route.

Here is the BLS info on median PA wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm

ETA: You're 20 and working on taking control of your life and finances after a not so great upbringing. You do not need to feel naive or foolish.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2016, 08:16:22 AM »
I'm always baffled by some of the numbers people throw out for nursing salaries. Around here, in the middle of the US, RNs make about $23/hr or $45k a year. It doesn't go up significantly with experience at all. And in your first year it's $21/hr. There are some shift differentials for overnights and weekends, but it's not significant. You're definitely under 50k even if you have been working 5 years and you work weekend nights.

Keep in mind that although you'd be getting a master's, you're just pushing toward your RN, so you're going to get paid the same as other BSN/RN people. You have to have an RN and BSN before you get a Nurse Practitioner Masters.

Here is the BLS info on median nursing wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm#st

If you're set on going back to school, I'd definitely recommend the PA route.

Here is the BLS info on median PA wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm

ETA: You're 20 and working on taking control of your life and finances after a not so great upbringing. You do not need to feel naive or foolish.

In my area nurses definitely make higher wages than in most areas (at least 70k even for beginning nurses), but PAs do have higher salaries overall. Thank you very much - that's very kind of you!

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2016, 08:40:48 AM »
Is there any legal recourse for getting out of the loans?  I feel like these are your parent's loans, not yours.  They were taken out by them in your name when they had control over you as a minor and used inappropriately.  I feel like there must be an audit trail that could be followed to prove they misused the funds and therefore you are not liable.

onlykelsey

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2172
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2016, 09:08:39 AM »
I'm always baffled by some of the numbers people throw out for nursing salaries. Around here, in the middle of the US, RNs make about $23/hr or $45k a year. It doesn't go up significantly with experience at all. And in your first year it's $21/hr. There are some shift differentials for overnights and weekends, but it's not significant. You're definitely under 50k even if you have been working 5 years and you work weekend nights.

Keep in mind that although you'd be getting a master's, you're just pushing toward your RN, so you're going to get paid the same as other BSN/RN people. You have to have an RN and BSN before you get a Nurse Practitioner Masters.

Here is the BLS info on median nursing wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm#st

If you're set on going back to school, I'd definitely recommend the PA route.

Here is the BLS info on median PA wages in the US:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm

ETA: You're 20 and working on taking control of your life and finances after a not so great upbringing. You do not need to feel naive or foolish.

In my area nurses definitely make higher wages than in most areas (at least 70k even for beginning nurses), but PAs do have higher salaries overall. Thank you very much - that's very kind of you!

This is just an impression, but it seems like RNs have remarkably mobile and more flexible job opportunities than PAs or MDs.  My RN friends job hop every year or two for bonuses or new benefits,  can seemingly find a job in pretty much any state/area they want to, and can take (unpaid, often) leave for 3 or 6 or 9 months when they want/need to, and then come back.  This doesn't seem possible for PAs/MDs/NPs in my impression.  I wonder if this might have something to do with insurance, but it may be worth looking in to/considering.

spicykissa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 158
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #39 on: June 30, 2016, 10:18:01 AM »
It was definitely worth it for me, but I started with a lower balance ($35,000 for my BS, then borrowed $55,000 for my nursing program). I've paid off all but $17,000 in less than two years of working.

My hospital also offers tuition assistance, so there are many RNs in our system who work full-time for 5 years, take two NP classes per year, and get the advanced degree essentially free (though very slowly). They also have contacts within the system to get hired, and are fully vested with retirement stuff. The PA/NP role is pretty much interchangeable as far as I can tell.

RNs are very, very mobile, especially if you have ICU experience. And self-scheduling for 3 days per week is the norm, unless you work in an outpatient area. And when you're off the clock, you are OFF--working from home is not possible! All reasons I love my new career. 

Someone upthread mentioned HRSA loan forgiveness--that program is limited to debt incurred for a healthcare degree, and it favors NPs over RNs. There is a complex rating system for the facility you work for, and you can't leave your job for two years IF you get picked. They fund a pretty small percentage of the applications received. It sounds good, but seems hard to get in reality (I  and many people I know applied). 

 

4alpacas

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1897
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #40 on: June 30, 2016, 01:56:18 PM »
How is your debt structured? 137K is way more than an undergrad could take out by themselves unless you got a ton of private loans. In which case forgiveness won't be available.

I was also a graduate student for about 2 years after graduating. I've been in school for a very long time, and the majority is federal debt.
Did you get a graduate degree? 

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #41 on: July 01, 2016, 03:44:46 PM »
You started college at 14 with a full scholarship, finished a double major at 18, then spent 2 years as a grad student, correct?

If so, what where your prodigy level achievements that enabled this path? Where did you go to school? Did you get a masters for the last two years?

I think you may want to play up your academic achievements and widen your gaze as to possible employment. I know that if I was hiring and I got a resume from a 20 year old with 3 degrees... That person's getting an interview regardless of what their degree is in.

GreenScallop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2016, 08:01:22 PM »
You started college at 14 with a full scholarship, finished a double major at 18, then spent 2 years as a grad student, correct?

If so, what where your prodigy level achievements that enabled this path? Where did you go to school? Did you get a masters for the last two years?

I think you may want to play up your academic achievements and widen your gaze as to possible employment. I know that if I was hiring and I got a resume from a 20 year old with 3 degrees... That person's getting an interview regardless of what their degree is in.

For the sake of privacy, I won't specify when I started college but it was not a double major. In any case, I went to well-known private schools (hence the high cost of attendance, including living expenses) and in most situations I have been greeted with much hostility and sudden changes in attitude once my age is known - I generally try to avoid mentioning that or any such accomplishments as much as possible. Maybe in 1% of situations I will get a positive response.

aperture

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 467
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2016, 07:04:20 AM »
Is there any legal recourse for getting out of the loans?  I feel like these are your parent's loans, not yours.  They were taken out by them in your name when they had control over you as a minor and used inappropriately.  I feel like there must be an audit trail that could be followed to prove they misused the funds and therefore you are not liable.
+1 I doubt that loans taken out in your name as a child are your responsibility.  Might be worth requesting original documents from the loaning agencies (if you do not have these) and reviewing with a lawyer. 

Also - sounds like you have done due diligence in considering a career as a PA or RN and have multiple reasons for considering this.  Between the two, I would say the PA route has both greater opportunity and greater $s, but ultimately these can be two very different roles.  I would interview numerous people doing the work you are interested in doing and learn all you can about what they like/dislike about their roles and how they got these roles before pulling the trigger.  It is important to make sure that you are pursing the right career path.  Such interviewing will also be very appealing to the programs you apply to.  (Here in Colorado the PA program at my local CC has 10+ applicants for every open spot, so there is pretty fierce competition to get in. 
Best wishes, Ap.

Murse

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 540
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2016, 08:17:55 AM »
RN here, I have done extensive research myself. In your current situation my opinion would be PA or NP. I would not consider being a RN if you already hold a bachelors. Your decision between PA and NP should depend on your state and your interests. It is well known that NP's tend to be better trained for long term chronic treatment or prevention (psych, primary care types)and PA's are better trained for acute hospital type work (emergency room, urgent care, critical care types.)Does this mean there is absolutely no crossover? No. Then you want to consider your interests, PA's can just switch specialties with no additional training, they just need a job because they work under a physicians license. A NP would have to go get additional training because they work under their own license. This highly depends on the state though because many states employers still require NP's to work under physicians so you are not always your own man/women. In my state (Oregon) a law was passed that insurance companies must compensate MD's/DO's/PA's and NP's the same for the same services (this is different then what your employer compensates you for.) This is important because it is difficult as a PA to open up your own private business because of the working under a physician thing, but easier for NP's. Finally for those of you who are confused as to why I even think NP should be looked at is because there a 3-3.5year accelerated NP programs where the first year you earn your RN, then the following 2-2.5years you earn your NP.

But before you do anything I would shadow both and be absolutely sure this is what you want to do. Once you have made a decision then look into scholarships. For example a friend of my other half is currently in dental school, he got a "scholarship" where he agreed to work 4 years after graduation in a high need area in exchange for his tuition being paid (250k+ total.)

Me being a RN I make too close to what NP's make for it to accelerate my time to FI. I think I would enjoy the work more but I don't want to spend the next 3-4 years going to school (bachelors then masters) for it to take me longer to hit FI. The work as a RN is a fair bit more laborious then providers, you are much more likely to have to work off shifts, and you are the one "dealing" with the emergencys.

DirtDiva

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 209
  • Location: Rocky Mountains
Re: Is a professional degree worth the additional debt for me?
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2016, 09:24:47 AM »
RN here, I have done extensive research myself. In your current situation my opinion would be PA or NP. I would not consider being a RN if you already hold a bachelors. Your decision between PA and NP should depend on your state and your interests. It is well known that NP's tend to be better trained for long term chronic treatment or prevention (psych, primary care types)and PA's are better trained for acute hospital type work (emergency room, urgent care, critical care types.)Does this mean there is absolutely no crossover? No. Then you want to consider your interests, PA's can just switch specialties with no additional training, they just need a job because they work under a physicians license. A NP would have to go get additional training because they work under their own license. This highly depends on the state though because many states employers still require NP's to work under physicians so you are not always your own man/women. In my state (Oregon) a law was passed that insurance companies must compensate MD's/DO's/PA's and NP's the same for the same services (this is different then what your employer compensates you for.) This is important because it is difficult as a PA to open up your own private business because of the working under a physician thing, but easier for NP's. Finally for those of you who are confused as to why I even think NP should be looked at is because there a 3-3.5year accelerated NP programs where the first year you earn your RN, then the following 2-2.5years you earn your NP.

But before you do anything I would shadow both and be absolutely sure this is what you want to do. Once you have made a decision then look into scholarships. For example a friend of my other half is currently in dental school, he got a "scholarship" where he agreed to work 4 years after graduation in a high need area in exchange for his tuition being paid (250k+ total.)

Me being a RN I make too close to what NP's make for it to accelerate my time to FI. I think I would enjoy the work more but I don't want to spend the next 3-4 years going to school (bachelors then masters) for it to take me longer to hit FI. The work as a RN is a fair bit more laborious then providers, you are much more likely to have to work off shifts, and you are the one "dealing" with the emergencys.

PA here.  Agree with all above.  I switched around to a few specialties before landing in oncology, which I will never leave. Being a PA has been an extremely satisfying and lucrative career for me- it's fairly easy to find side gigs making bank for minimal effort.

I would recommend submitting applications to both programs so you have a back-up plan if you aren't selected for PA school.

The RN track opens the possibility of becoming a nurse anesthetist, which is highly compensated.  As an RN, it is easier to find non-traditional hours (ie 3 12-hour shifts a week, which to me is the perfect schedule).   Additionally, if you ever have a hankering to do travel work, the RN degree is far more useful.  One more thought- I have heard of accelerated RN programs for those who already have a bachelor's degree; you might look into that possibility.