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Is Graduate School Worth The Cost?

Is Graduate School Worth The Cost?

Graduate school will usually costs thousands of dollars in tuition forcing students to take on large student loans to get them through their program. Many graduates are finding that it is difficult to find high paying jobs, leaving many asking themselves if grad school is worth the cost. This article will provide guidance and advice to help you decide if grad school is the right option for you.

Where Will Graduate School Get You?

There are a number of student who graduate, look for a job in their related field, only to be stuck with a job in a different field that pays much less then they were expecting. Numbers show that almost half of recent college degree graduates are currently working jobs that do not require a bachelors degree.

It is important to look at employment statistics for the program you want to take. How many of the graduates are finding jobs in the field they have graduated in? Someone who graduated in accounting is going to have an easier time finding a job then someone who graduated in a field with a smaller demand, such as Psychology or Geology. Also, consider if your field will be in high demand when you graduate, or if they’re will be to many graduates in the field, creating an oversupply of potential hires.

The old rule of thumb says to enroll in something that you thoroughly enjoy, however this is not the case anymore. For example, if you enjoyed drama class in high school, it doesn’t mean you should spend thousands, and take dramatic arts in college. It would be very difficult to find an acting job, and you would most likely end up with a job that does not require a diploma. Just know that going to grad school will not guarantee you a high paying job.

Do you Need Grad School To Succeed In Your Field?

Check to see if the field you are interested in actually requires a degree. In many careers such as engineering, medicine, and law require a degree to find a good job. However, some fields such as marketing, construction etc. do not always require a degree, many times experience and good street smarts will allow you to excel in that field without a degree.

Lowest Paying Degree Jobs

The following will show you the lower paying jobs your will get from your degree:

  • Behavioral Science
  • Parks and Recreation/leisure studies
  • Radio and TV
  • Culinary Arts
  • Social Work
  • Animal Science

Highest Paying Degree Jobs

The following will list the higher paying jobs you can get from your graduate degree:

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Web site developer
  • MRI Technologists
  • Registered Nurse
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Radiation Therapists
  • Orthodontist
  • Pharmacists

One Year Salary Rule

To help decide if grad school is worth it, there is a rule of thumb that states the following. A student should calculate what their expected salary will be after graduation, then borrow no more then the amount of the first year salary. For example, if you anticipate that you will earn $38 000 in your first year, you should not borrow no more then $38 000.

Using this rule of thumb will allow you to pay off your student loan in 10 years if you contribute 10% of your paychecks towards the loan.

How Much Will Grad School Cost You?

We all know grad school is expensive, but you need to know exactly how much it is to help make your decision. Tuition varies by program, however the average cost for a masters degree ranges from $30 000 to $120 000, and the average cost of an MBA is $40 000. These costs vary based on the university, the course and the length of the program. The average student loan debt for someone who earns a degree is approximately $55 000 to $60 000.

These are just the figures for the tuition itself, you then have to take into consideration the costs for textbooks, as well as living expenses, which vary widely based on your location, as this all tacks on thousands of more dollars. While a student loan might be enough to cover your tuition, you need to find money to cover your living expenses. You might possibly have to take out another loan, or possibly work part time while you are in school.

Furthermore, it will take years to pay off your student loans. It takes a student on average 10-14 years to pay off a student loan. You will be shedding thousands off your income for a long time putting you in a financial hole and making it difficult to buy a house.

Now, this isn’t to say that you should not go to grad school, it is just very important to choose your career path that will land you a good job.

Grad School ROI Calculator

You can use this ROI Calculator to give you an estimate on your return of investment for going to grad school. To use this calculator you will need to consider the following:

  • an approximate figure on your first job’s salary
  • an estimate on how much you need to borrow to get your through grad school
  • the amount of interest on your loans (usually around 6%)
  • the amount of time it will take you to pay off your loans

Use Net Price Calculators

Many of the school websites will have a net price calculator advising you on how much you can possibly earn in scholarships and other financial aid. The calculation is based on various factors such as GPA, number of children in the household, and family income.

Apply for Scholarships And Grants

All students should be applying for a scholarship and others forms of financial aid. It is highly recommended to apply for a Pell Grant. Pell grants are available to students who are striving toward their first bachelor’s or professional degree.  Pell Grants can help you with a chunk of your tuition costs as you can receive up to $5775.

Click here for a helpful government resource that will inform you on all the available forms of financial aid available.

About The Author

Ben Todd

Ben was a seriously broke graduate student with bad credit who after finding himself rejected for any sort of credit card or loan for most of his adult life, finally decided to get his financial life in order. 'He spent several years reading as many financial advice books and blogs as he could.And suprisingly, Ben found he actually LIKED the topic of personal finance; after fixing his own finances, starting his own successful work at home website business, and using his earnings to get out of debt, created to help others do likewise!

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