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Matthew A.

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Is going to grad-school a financial gain or risk?

I am wondering if i should start an account for my grad school due to the lack of financial aid #finance #graduate-school

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It is smart to be thinking about the cost of going to grad school - congrats for already having that in mind before you decide to go. There has been a lot of research recently about the increasing graduate student debt burden. For example, here is a report you might have seen - http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_graduate_student_debt_review

The press release says - "According to the data, in 2004, the median level of indebtedness for a borrower who earned a Master of Arts degree was $38,000. In 2012, that figured jumped to $59,000, after adjusting for inflation. Debt levels for other master’s degrees, such as a Master of Science or a Master of Education, show similar trends."

So in general, unless (or even if) you are able to get scholarships, teaching/research assistantships, sponsorships, or grants, you will likely graduate with some debt. In addition, there is the opportunity cost of the time you are out of the workforce when you could be earning a salary and gaining work experience. Two things to consider on the financials as you look at grad programs are (1) the job placement rates and starting salaries of people who have finished graduate degrees, and (2) the interest expected on your loans, so you can weigh the debt with how soon you think you can pay it off after you finish your degree. On a tactical note, the FAFSA will count your savings in their loan calculations, so you might consider researching how this works before deciding to open a savings account or 529.

All that said, financials are only one piece of the decision, because some intangibles of getting a graduate degree may pay off in other ways over your career. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

-Is a graduate degree a requirement to getting a job or advancing in your chosen field, or is it common to work one's way up without it?
-What will you gain from "book learning" in a university vs. learning "on the job"? -How much do you want to specialize at this stage in your career? -What will you gain from the specific graduate program you are looking at? (for example, a better brand from a well-known graduate school that will open doors? A better network?) Are these things you have to go back to school to get?

Hope that helps, and best of luck!

Last updated Oct 29 '15 at 15:06

It depends on what you want to do professionally. If you want to go into law, medicine, or a profession that requires an advanced degree - you will certainly gain from the experience. Also, to use myself as an example, if you majored it something open ended like communications, getting a Master's helped me find and focus on a career path. Once you determine what level of academics you need to achieve your professional goals, you can decide if a graduate degree is right for you.

Also you may not necessarily have to pay for a Master's degree. Often schools offer graduate assistantships which cover the cost of tuition and pay a small stipend every semester. You can look into various departments on campus such as career services, student activities, or even athletics to see if they have positions available. This is a win/win for both the student and the school.

Last updated Oct 29 '15 at 15:07

Dear Matthew,

Pablo Timpson here. I currently work for a large bank and my field of work is Risk Management. I’m also a part time graduate student in New York University. (short intro)

I think it’s great that you’re thinking about the future and college. School is very important. To answer your question, it is a GAIN and I think should think about graduate school after you have finished your undergraduate degree. I waited three years after my undergraduate to pursue my graduate degree. School is and will be very expensive, but as some of the people mentioned, there are a few options that you have when it comes to paying for it.

Here is an example; my employer gives me $9,000 a year for graduate school, but each class is $5,000. It helps, but it doesn’t cover much. Nonetheless, it’s not an issue for me because I can cover the cost. As you grow older you will find that life will offer many opportunities and obstacles.

Good Luck and study hard!

Last updated Mar 07 '16 at 23:08
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