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How did you finance graduate school?


SlayOut

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For those located within the United States and have completed a Masters or PhD program, how did you fund your graduate schooling?

It has almost been six years since I earned my undergraduate degree, but due to my need to earn money and address mental health issues, I haven’t pursued graduate level coursework. Part of it also stems from not knowing what I’d want to study, or what degree to pursue.

I guess I’m curious how you have funded your degree. Did you save money from working and pay that way? Did you take on lots of debt? Did you receive some form of scholarship that lessened your financial contribution to your degree? Did you do an online degree and continue full time work?

Any perspectives would be useful, as I’m contemplating an advanced degree (albeit I’d need to take whatever qualifying exams and figure out a program I’d want to pursue…)

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I am getting a master’s degree in Data Science online. I went to a top 15 school for my undergrad in psychology  and ended up with 30k in federal student loans. I worked for a few years as a caseworker and hated the working conditions and the pay. So I decided to make a change and looked into data science. My whole master’s degree is only 10k, which was funded by my job until I quit. Now I am relying on federal students loans again. I am comfortable with going with student loans again because I believe I can get a good return on investment with a stem degree. 
 

My advice regarding school is to go to somewhere accredited and cheap. Name brand schools can open doors, sure. However, I found myself working with people with degrees from much more affordable schools and they weren’t in nearly as much debt. 
 

Also, I would recommend having a concrete plan for the job you want after the degree and to make that job pays well enough to justify the degree in the first place. 
 

Best of luck!

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I highly recommend researching an accredited PhD program that gives you free tuition and pays you a stipend. The goal is to lessen as much personal debt as possible. Usually, these offers come with strings attached, like acting as a Teaching Assistant or a grader for undergraduate classes. Most programs come with about 5-6 years of funding, plus health care. These are awesome programs, but the only drawback is that they are highly competitive. You will also be expected to serve your department's needs while balancing your own research goals. This translates to more time spent on others' projects, and more distractions for your time to degree.

You may also have to move elsewhere to pursue an offer, so that's something worth considering. Ask yourself if you'd be happy there. Don't forget your own needs in the process :bwink_britney_pepsi_wink_black_and_white_bw_flirt:

Terminal, accredited Masters degrees often offer slim financial grants, like travel funds, but they're not enough to defray cost of living expenses. They're definitely not enough to cover tuition. You're likely better off taking out a student loan and asking someone who you know and trust, who is financially stable (e.g. a parent or uncle/aunt), to co-sign your loan. 

But not all programs are created equal! I'd recommend doing your research and comparing all the benefits and drawbacks of every program. Build in lots of breaks while you research so you can hyperventilate and blow off some steam :lizzie_oops_dancing_red_maguire_hillary_duff:

It is a huge decision, but try not to worry too much. It is super overwhelming to even consider this path. I think you're a star!

:saycheese_make_me_mm_hat_smile_peace_sign_grin_glory_britney:

Good luck!

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13 hours ago, Endlessstan said:

I am getting a master’s degree in Data Science online. I went to a top 15 school for my undergrad in psychology  and ended up with 30k in federal student loans. I worked for a few years as a caseworker and hated the working conditions and the pay. So I decided to make a change and looked into data science. My whole master’s degree is only 10k, which was funded by my job until I quit. Now I am relying on federal students loans again. I am comfortable with going with student loans again because I believe I can get a good return on investment with a stem degree. 
 

My advice regarding school is to go to somewhere accredited and cheap. Name brand schools can open doors, sure. However, I found myself working with people with degrees from much more affordable schools and they weren’t in nearly as much debt. 
 

Also, I would recommend having a concrete plan for the job you want after the degree and to make that job pays well enough to justify the degree in the first place. 
 

Best of luck!

Absolutely agree. I did not decide to enter grad school until I had a strategic plan for my own career. 

Ask yourself where you see yourself in 10 years. That's your goal. Break down your strategic plan for reaching that goal in two, five-year increments or in three, three-year increments. It doesn't need to be overly detailed or organized. You only need to solidify your micro-goals in order to reach the degree. 

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  • 4 months later...

I finished my mba in 17. After that, my plan at the time was to save as much as possible to pay off a good chunk of my loan to lower interest. In 2020, interest was removed for most loans because of the pandemic so I was able to pay it off in full. I was definitely lucky though. Had I not saved and lucked up with the removal of interest, I would’ve been paying for decades. 

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On 8/31/2021 at 9:13 PM, Endlessstan said:

I am getting a master’s degree in Data Science online. I went to a top 15 school for my undergrad in psychology  and ended up with 30k in federal student loans. I worked for a few years as a caseworker and hated the working conditions and the pay. So I decided to make a change and looked into data science. My whole master’s degree is only 10k, which was funded by my job until I quit. Now I am relying on federal students loans again. I am comfortable with going with student loans again because I believe I can get a good return on investment with a stem degree. 
 

My advice regarding school is to go to somewhere accredited and cheap. Name brand schools can open doors, sure. However, I found myself working with people with degrees from much more affordable schools and they weren’t in nearly as much debt. 
 

Also, I would recommend having a concrete plan for the job you want after the degree and to make that job pays well enough to justify the degree in the first place. 
 

Best of luck!

Completely agree with you on working with people (networking) from non-brand name schools! It's all about positive and organic networking, and if you don't have those skills, then even attending a brand name school won't help you. Sound advice my friend! 💕

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