Author Topic: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...  (Read 3567 times)

hypocrispy

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Okay, so I just found MMM and have gone full bore implementing a lot of advice and getting my debt emergency in hand. I'm set to be CC and auto debt free by January but then there's this student loan...

Last year I decided to go back to school to get my Masters degree. I really wanted to boost my earning power and give myself the necessary tools, knowledge, and credentials to get myself the job I really wanted and get out of the horrible place I was in. Well, I got my dream job this year without having to complete my degree.

The degree would take me another two years to finish but new dream job will pay most of those costs. That being said, I don't need the degree. Sure, it will help if I ever have to go job hunting again and it will definitely come in handy when it's time to talk about raises and promotions but I'm not too worried about it. And let's be honest, its a lot of work. Time and effort that might be better spent fixing up my new house (bought without mortgage, mind you) and learning other skills for use as side income later. That being said, I almost feel like a fool for not taking advantage of tuition reimbursement.

So now the question is do I go ahead and finish or cut my losses and keep moving forward?

The details:
$18.6k @ 6.2% in graduate loan debt
$2.2k @ 6.55% in undergrad loans left (This is set to be paid back in the Spring.)

1 year = 3 semesters = 6 classes = $12k
Tuition Reimbursement = $11k per year

Any and all advice is appreciated!

Exflyboy

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 10:36:15 AM »
My personal view on education is this.

If you are interested in a career requires a degree in that subject (engineering, doctor of medicine, physicians assistant etc) then you really have no choice, but its 'likely" those degrees will pay off.

If you want to get a degree in Art History, basket weaving, cultural studies etc.. Well I hope you have the money saved up cus the chances are you'd be better off getting a job as "Bill the burger flipper" and stop wasting your time and money.

In my case I went back and got an MBA after being an engineer for about 10 years. I loved it, learned a lot about myself and how to be a great manager. What did it do for my career (i.e earning potential)?.. After 30 years in both engineering and engineering management roles I can honestly absolutely NOTHING!

Would I do it again?... That's tough to say, it certainly didn't improve my time to FIRE.


Bracken_Joy

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 10:43:29 AM »
One thing to note- tuition reimbursement still has tax implications, so it ends up costing more than you would think.

But this is about a lot more than money. Do you find a lot of identity in your role as a professional? Would it give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, and do you WANT to learn more in this field? Or is your job a means to an end and you want to early retire ASAP?

AZDude

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 10:49:19 AM »
I would finish it. You never know what the future holds. That degree will be there, and with $11K in tuition reimbursement, it does seem silly not to finish what you have started.

thd7t

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 11:04:41 AM »
You have the dream job.  Can you ask your employer if they would value the degree?

jda1984

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 11:19:26 AM »
If you like the subject and your employer will cover it (or most of it) then I'd say go for it.  There may be stipulations on how long you need to stay to retain the tuition reimbursement so look into that too.

hypocrispy

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 12:13:34 PM »
Thank you for all the great replies!


In my case I went back and got an MBA after being an engineer for about 10 years. I loved it, learned a lot about myself and how to be a great manager. What did it do for my career (i.e earning potential)?.. After 30 years in both engineering and engineering management roles I can honestly absolutely NOTHING!

This is exactly what I'm afraid of, the degree doing absolutely nothing. I love my job, I love what I do, and I love learning everything I can about it. But there are cheaper ways to continue my education in my field. I work in Environmental Health and Safety; think EPA and OSHA. The majority of the field is made up of people who either have no degrees or do in something completely different. The value of an EHS professional is in the attitude and passion for the people we protect, not the piece of paper hanging on the wall.

One thing to note- tuition reimbursement still has tax implications, so it ends up costing more than you would think.

But this is about a lot more than money. Do you find a lot of identity in your role as a professional? Would it give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, and do you WANT to learn more in this field? Or is your job a means to an end and you want to early retire ASAP?

Oh. I didn't think about tax implications of reimbursement. I'll have to look more into that. The plan is to pay for my education up front and apply all the reimbursement to my existing loan.

My job may be a labor of love and would celebrate the hell out of accomplishing a degree, but I'm not married to the idea of an advanced degree. I've always thought that jobs are just a means to an end; the capital to fund the time doing whatever I wanted to do.

You have the dream job.  Can you ask your employer if they would value the degree?
My boss did hint at a substantial raise upon completion. But very subtly, nothing he could be held to. I should just ask him point blank.

If you like the subject and your employer will cover it (or most of it) then I'd say go for it.  There may be stipulations on how long you need to stay to retain the tuition reimbursement so look into that too.
That's just job security, right? =^.^=

Platypuses

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2015, 12:16:19 PM »
Can you stretch out the degree program? If you could go for 3 or 4 years instead of 2 it would likely be considerably less stress and you could get it 100% paid for.
However in your position, I would only go back to school if it was something I was really interested in.
The dream job you have now should provide you with enough experience to get you interviews for the same dream job at other companies.
Do other companies require higher level degrees for the same position?

Bearded Man

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2015, 03:01:44 PM »
I had a similar dilema and I decided to go for it. Try it out, what's one class? If you don't like it drop it.

I decided to get my MBA because the price was right, I have an ideal situation to get it right now, and I'm paying for it as I go. I want to get back into management, but not middle management, senior management.

I see a lot of jobs that preferr someone with a masters, and some that even require it.

That said, if you can't succeed without a degree, a degree isn't going to help you. If you can succeed without a degree, the degree WILL help you, but what you make of it is up to you. It's not just a piece of paper. Did you actually learn skills that you can apply? I did in undergrad, and I am now as well in grad school.

Noodle

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2015, 06:12:20 PM »
I would ask a few more questions--what are the tax implications, are you committed to stay, what if you start but don't finish, do people usually get a salary bump w. a degree. Also, do a little research: how easy would it be to get another job w. and w.o. the degree? Think about how much longer you expect to work. Then you will have more information to work with. I don't think there's a right answer.

Here's the thing...as you probably know from starting the degree, grad school is HARD (if they're doing it right). So if you're not feeling motivated, it may be hard to get the work done. But on the other hand, tuition reimbursement is a pretty sweet deal and dream jobs don't necessarily stay dream jobs (ask a lot of newspaper reporters, or anybody whose boss retired and got replaced by a jerk). So a degree that you don't have to pay for is a great thing to have in your pocket. If you can do the program more slowly, that could be ideal.

hypocrispy

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2015, 07:38:31 AM »
I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful replies. It really means a lot that this community cares and is so receptive to the calls for help and support. And that was exactly what I needed. I won't go into my entire situation here (I think I'll create a journal thread for that) but I've encountered a lot of trouble talking about financial independence with those around me.

I've made appointments with my supervisor and my academic counselor to discuss a lot of the questions that all of you brought up. I need some definitive answers from them, but I'm strongly leaning towards continuing based on your support and encouragement.

The degree can't hurt me. I've already done the damage with the debt I've put myself in with the loan and as long as I receive tuition reimbursement, this won't increase. And while I probably don't need it, having the MS might help in the future. Completing it is going to be about me, proving that I can do and accomplishing a goal. I will be the first person in my family with a graduate degree and they've been really supportive and proud of me on this journey. I don't want to disappoint (me or them).

JJNL

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Re: To get my degree or not to get my degree? That is the question...
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2015, 11:24:51 PM »
OK, this is a bit late since you seem to have made a decision already, but here's my 2 cents. Firstly, I would try to find out more about the increase in opportunities at work. Will you get a raise upon completion? Will it give you more job opportunities? And secondly, how do you feel about the classes? Are they fun? I am currently taking a part time MBA degree which I am paying for myself. To me, the contact with my fellow students and the learning of entirely new things are really valuable. Maybe not to the tune of the full tuition I am paying, but even if I don't manage to get a higher paying job afterwards I would not set the value of my degree at 0. And you're not paying for your degree yourself, you are getting it for free! However, if taking the classes is a drag for you it will be hard to keep motivated, even if there's a reward at the end. So I would say try it, if you like the learning it's a no brainer - go ahead and complete the whole thing, as net value will almost certainly be well above 0. If you hate the programme, I say take a good hard look at the rewards to see if they're really worth it.