Grad school definitely sounds tempting for many of us looking to expand our knowledge and skillset, specialize in our fields, broaden our horizons. It’s a new challenge, and the perfect opportunity to invest in your future by increasing your qualifications, and thus, demand. Read on to find about the loans for Grad School.
But despite the typically shorter, more focused approach to graduate degrees, they end up costing a pretty penny. On average, graduate students finish school with an average debt of $71,000. And this doesn’t even include your undergraduate loans.
So when you’re considering taking on a graduate degree and unsure about the debt, let’s go over whether or not it’s even worth the massive debt that you are likely to incur.
Consider your reasons for going and be clear about them
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to go to graduate school. Whether you’re looking to specialize in a certain field or obtain a terminal degree, or you’re looking to find more direction, or work our way up to a post-graduate degree like a Mphil. Or Ph.D., you should know your why.
It might help to seek counseling, mentorship, or advice and recommendations from people in your field, specialty, or degree. Graduate degrees are a lot more focused and specialized than undergraduate degrees, so having a sense of clarity helps, even if it’s not a make-or-break factor.
Draw out the pros and cons of your degree, including fleshing out the details, reasons, motivations, and consider the long-term benefits, commitments, and effects of taking this on.
Weighing the pros and cons brings perspective to the decision too. Will you benefit from this decision in the long-run, or will it hold you back from various other life choices, such as buying a home, raising a family, moving away, or forgoing other forms of leisure, comfort, and luxury? While some of these reasons may seem irrelevant or redundant, they are important to think about.
Will your graduate degree help your career prospects?
For many career paths and jobs, and positions, a graduate degree is essential. After a few years of progression, your career may come to a standstill, which is why a master’s degree may help you climb the ladder to professional growth.
This includes various professional and practical positions, too, including teaching, therapy and counseling, engineering, law, medicine, and various managerial positions. For some professionals, a graduate degree is essential to your career, while for others, it helps the general prospect of jobs.
When thinking about your reasons for wanting to go to grad school, keep in mind the career path you’re choosing and how you can see professional growth with the use of this degree.
Are you expecting an increase in income and as a result of it, or do you lack the necessary qualifications and skills required for this profession without a graduate degree or specialization?
Will this degree enable you to earn enough to pay your debt?
Speaking of earning enough, you can expect an increase in income after you graduate. However, it isn’t necessary. For some, the growth is barely noticeable or significant enough to make a dent in your earnings, but for others, the earning potential is incredibly high.
The starting salary for various degrees varies, and depending on your program and specialization, you should look into the earning potential of your degree. Some of the highest-earning master’s degrees include healthcare administration, physics, and nursing, but there are various others that pay extremely well.
But the questions remains: will you be able to pay off your debt with the money you make from your job? If your average expected income doesn’t seem to allow it, it might be worth reconsidering or looking into alternative degrees, programs, and qualifications, as well as grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities that can help you pay your debt during your period of study.
Can you cut back on certain costs or use savings for living costs?
While it’s tempting to choose the most prestigious institutions for your masters, you might be able to find alternatives such as public universities that are just as rigorous, but significantly cheaper.
Additionally, you should look into ways that you can cut back on costs, save more, and avoid greater debt. It’s not just tuition that costs so much; books, materials, labs, practical work, supervision, fieldwork, living costs are some of the many other costs that aren’t factored enough.
If you’re able to use savings and sustain living costs, cut back on other costs, and pay off interest during your degree, it can make a major difference to you. Overborrowing is a major risk that you run, which is why you need to be careful about your budget, expenses, and how you can contribute to reducing them.
It might even make sense to relocate to be closer to campus or look for part-time opportunities that you can pursue simultaneously.
How will you finance your education and manage debt?
A major question you’re left to ask yourself is: how will you finance your degree? Especially with loans for Grad School carried forward from your undergraduate degree; you need to be on top of your grad school funding.
Apply for all the grants, scholarships, fellowships, and opportunities that are available to you and look into options such as consolidating and refinancing your loans. Organizations like Education Loan Finance (ELFI) offer loans for Grad School to applicants that can help you pay for the cost of attending graduate school.
All in all, it can be a very rewarding experience intellectually, professionally, personally, and mentally. But it’s your decision to make at the end of the day. If you feel like you’re ready for grad school, take that leap of faith and start working on applications, figuring out financing, and other crucial factors.