Author Topic: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?  (Read 3380 times)


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Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« on: January 05, 2015, 09:06:40 PM »
I am starting graduate school in Minnesota this June to earn my teaching license. The goal is to become a high school social studies teacher. I would like to get some tips/advice on how to manage my finances in the meantime, between now and the time I graduate/start working (Sept 2016?), where to put my money where it's most effective, whether I should take out loans/how much, etc.

The program is 13 months, and because of tuition reciprocity I pay, basically, in-state tuition.
Tuition: 3 terms @ ~$8,000 = ~$24,000
Apt Rental cost come June (estimate): $400-600 per month (cheap pls)

I probably won't have time to keep a job while I'm in school, although I'm open to the idea.

Age: 26
Income: $42,500 (before tax)
Occupation: Corporate Office Phone Drone
Commute: 70 mi/day (ugh I know)
Debt: 11,000 student loans
Car:  ~5,000 for a shitty Jeep Compass I was duped into buying from my parents.
This piece of trash has constant problems with the suspension, and I'd like to get rid of it and get something more "Mustachian," but I'm not sure it's smart to make that kind of drastic change right before starting grad school.
**Advice about the car situation would be nice too.**
Rent/Util: ~400 per/mo
I probably spend 250-400 per month on social activities, and groceries, misc.
I do mystery shopping just as a side thing. That probably earns me $70-100 per month in freebies/payment.

Savings: 18,000 in bank (By time I start school in June I could probably increase this to 21,000, if I change nothing)
3,000 in SPY shares
3,500 in stocks
401k: (irrelevant in this case)

It's just me I have to look out for-- no wifey, no mini-crustache spawns.

Why don't I do this in my home state? Because I'd pay more money to earn a second bachelor's degree to even be eligible for licensure in this state, in addition to the classes necessary to become licensed. Furthermore the current political environment in this state is not in favor of the teaching profession.
I'm a pretty stingey guy, trying to be more Mustachian, instead of just being cheap. This website has augmented my perspective on money; not changed it per se, but given me some guidelines.

I previously had the idea to take out a loan to go to school, while investing my current funds with the goal of earning ROI at a higher rate than the interest on my loans; but this seems risky and dicey.

Merci, en avance

--The Crustache
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 09:08:55 PM by The_Crustache »


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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 09:42:37 PM »
Current rates for federal unsubsidized graduate PLUS loans are a fixed 6.4% IIRC.  You're not likely to get anything better going private, plus you'd be abandoning the extra protections provided by federal loans.  I think most would agree that interest rate is too high to bank on, especially considering the interest accrues (but doesn't capitalize) while you're in school. 


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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2015, 03:25:17 PM »
Have you considered other programs?  $24,000 is quite a lot of money to spend on tuition.

I put off going back to school for years because of student loan debt, but I'm about to start a program at Western Governors University because their tuition is so affordable.  It's a flat fee per term, regardless of credit hours taken, so it might be faster as well.  They are accredited (regionally and by the NCATE).

I also have a friend that did Teach For America.  If you're accepted, they would pay for training and licensure, while you got started working as a teacher.   

If I were in your shoes, I would consider finding a living situation close to campus and getting rid of the car entirely if you continue on the current plan in Minnesota. Most university areas are more friendly to bike and foot traffic than car traffic anyway.


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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2015, 11:10:18 AM »
^^^^   Yes, to all of those ideas.

For background:  I was a teacher for 12 years with a MA in history and National Board Certification.  Then I went to law school.  I may get flamed for this but I'm going to say it flat out.... education graduate programs are not very challenging.  There is no reason whatsoever why you can't work while you're in school to cover almost all of your costs.

Also, unlike law, teaching is not a prestige-driven institution.  Within reason, it does not matter where you get your degree or what your GPA is (so if you work and as a consequence your GPA is a 2.8 instead of a 3.5, it won't matter).  You can work full time and go to school part time.  You could probably find something credible that's mostly or all online study.

Some states have programs that allow you to enter the classroom with a BA or BS and have a provisional license for 2 years while you get your certification part-time.

What I would NOT do is take two years off of working and rack up $24k in student loans (on top of the $11k you already have) in order to enter a profession that is legendary for it's low pay and high burn-out rate.  There is just no reason to do this.

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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2015, 11:42:32 AM »
A coupe of points:

a) Have you looked into the demand for social studies teachers?  In my area it is incredibly low.  Most of the substitutes that I talk to are social studies certified.  It may be different where you are, but I would seriously consider ESL or special ed certification if you want a job.

b) I can second what Truly Stashin said about teaching graduate programs being easy.  They may vary by program, but I was able to get somewhere in the 4.3 range by proofreading assignments, turning them in on time and doing the assigned readings.  Plenty of classmates got by without doing any of those things.


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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2015, 12:40:56 PM »
Take advantage of the 529 tax deduction for your currently state, if there is one.


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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 01:10:45 PM »
Thanks for all the advice, folks.
Definitely a lot to consider. You have brought up some good points especially about subject licensure and job demand. Honestly, if I am open to relocation, I don't think I will have any trouble finding a job SOMEWHERE after finishing school- whether that be MN, TX, ESL in Korea? Isn't there a high (and growing) demand of babysitters teachers in this country?

TrulyStashin: You might make some good points about the rigor of education master's programs, however I am not willing to take your anecdotal advice at the risk of blowing my academic achievement. I'd be interested to know if you're telling your kids to half-ass their education too (regardless of who's paying). I will consider getting a job, but not before I start studying. Even if it isn't difficult, based on what the advisers of my program have told it seems like quite a time-suck; time spent sitting in class, and also doing co-teaching can easily burn 8-12 hours in a day.

And going to school part time isn't an option. Not with this program-- it's full time, accelerated. The reason I'm doing this program is because all things considered it's cheaper than attending school in my home state.
Online school? I haven't even begun to consider that. Learning to be a classroom teacher in a classroom is probably more efficacious (and desirable) than learning to teach in a classroom via the internet.

What I was really asking was what to do with my money, not what to do with my life. Where do I invest?

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Re: Returning to school - how do I prepare (financially)?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2015, 07:58:41 AM »
Isn't there a high (and growing) demand of babysitters teachers in this country?

You could probably find a job somewhere, likely somewhere that pays very low, as any desirable school district will have A LOT of competition- but no, high school social studies teachers are NOT in high demand.  This is often given to someone who is a coach, and was hired for that ability first. Because NCLB does not require Social Studies accountability, it is often set aside by schools as unimportant.

If you are thinking about ESL in Korea- get ESL certified HERE. That is something in demand.
Or look into Teach for America. I wouldn't take on debt to become a teacher if you have another job field open to you (since you are doing a Master's degree, it seems to me you do through your Bachelor's degree.)

Quite honestly, even STEM field teachers find themselves fighting for jobs in desirable districts, but they don't have to fight for them in the others. SS you very well may.