Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)
PubPolPal

Let's Talk Debt

40 posts in this topic

So I haven't seen much of a discussion on this as it applies specifically to Public Policy graduate educations. How much debt have you gone into/ are you willing to go into to get one of these educations?  

As @d4r56 stated in another thread: 

"With $140k--150k for two years and not-so-great post-graduation salaries (even from schools like HKS), I'm not sure this is financially feasible without good graduate/teaching assistantships, work-study, etc. to defer the cost.Source: see page 4 of the "Employment Overview" PDF on this page: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/office-of-career-advancement/prospective-students/after-hks "

Is this something any of you have dealt with? Is, like, public sector debt relief a thing? Do I have to drive for Uber as a grad student? Just trying to get some perspective on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My very first thought is if you're seriously looking at $140-150K to take on as ed debt for a public policy degree.  Pause. You'll eventually take a class in cost benefit analysis and quickly realize what was likely a monumentally big over reach.  As a policy student if you find yourself taking on much more than call it about 80K in total ed debt, reconsider your school choice and lifestyle spending choices, the post graduate salaries won't support much more than that for all but a very lucky few who end up in lobbying or moving pretty high up the chain at a big name consulting firm.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one should take out $150,000 for a Master in Public Administration. Full stop.

In fact, I would be hesitant about taking out more than $50,000 in total debt. A MPA can lead to a good career, but it's unlikely to lead to great salaries early on. Now that we have a federal hiring freeze, this is doubly true. In the end, this is a public service degree. Don't assume business sector growth potential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I'm personally not comfortable taking on any more than $30,000 in loan debt. Ideally I won't take on any (I already have one offer for 90% tuition scholarship + stipend - waiting to hear from 4 other schools). When I was originally considering which MPA programs I would apply to, a major factor for me was whether the schools offered strong opportunities for funding (and were within my geographic region).  As long as you make funding a priority, I think it is certainly possible to avoid going deep into debt. 

Edited by caitiroth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thanks for starting this, @PubPolPal-- it's an important discussion to have. To expand on this: it looks like 27% of graduates (at HKS) go into the private sector and that the median salary in that sector is $125,000, which seems a lot more reasonable than the ~$60,000 you'd be making in the public sector or ~$70,000 in the nonprofit sector [clearly this can vary quite a bit depending on your particular circumstances.]

For those with any experience, is it difficult to find a job in the private sector with an MPP? What does the 'private sector' typically mean, other than consulting firms? I know it's sort of comparing apples to oranges, but is someone with an MBA really that much more qualified? My understanding is that an MPP program teaches you many of the same skills as an MBA program.

I would love to work for a nonprofit or in the public sector, but it'll really depend on how much debt I graduate with (assuming I would even be able to get a decent job in the private sector...)

Edited by d4r56

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently around $70,000 in debt, but with an interest rate of <.5%. As such, I am not that "scared" of the high debt I have accrued already, but I certainly would not go anywhere if I need to borrow more than $10-20,000. I have taken funding into account while applying (as such, HKS was quickly off the table) since I am actively pursuing a career in public service. If you are not, you may feel free to take some more risks, but be careful.

Speaking from nothing but personal opinion I find MBA to not be "that much more qualified" than many other masters (quant-MPP, Econ, engineering). I would assume the ease of finding a job in the private sector with an MPP relies upon the focus of that specific MPP, simply put. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty committed to working in the public sector and making relatively moderate income, so taking out anything more than $50,000 is off the table for me, except when I think about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

(If you don't know, if you make payments of 10% of income while working at a 501c(3) or government agency for 120 months, the remaining balance is forgiven. So, if you take out $150,000 at HKS and then make $50,000/year after graduating, you'll won't come close to even paying half of it back before you earn forgiveness.)

Of course, Donald Trump is President with a Republican congress, and certain lawmakers have signaled that PSLF could be on the chopping block. Obviously, who knows what will actually happen. 

This puts us all in a pickle. I would feel comfortable taking out more debt under a Clinton administration because she wasn't about to cut PSLF. But we live in this universe. I think I have to play it safe and assume that I'm going to have to pay back any debt I take out :/. Any of you also thinking about this?

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Let me ask you all a question. Unless you are independently wealthy/getting a HUGE scholarship, how are you NOT taking on loans that end up in triple digits?

Let me give you a scenario (a scenario for at least 1/3 of all students seeking their Masters, regardless of study):

~Assuming that you will NOT be working (aka full time student; also not being RA/TA because the gods wouldn't give you one)

~have to pay rent, spending money for living expenses.

~And let's say that the scholarship your school offers you is a small amount each year but nowhere near enough (because you clearly didn't make the necessary blood sacrifices to the gods).

~Sure there are lots groups and organizations throwing out money, but let's be real, $1000/year will only take you to the door of your classroom.

~Oh ya, add a 2 year program into this scenario because paying off a one year program is a completely different matter (a lot easier to manage). 

~I understand that the salaries people could make after graduation differ greatly due to... whatever reason. But let's assume that all salaries start at $50,000/year.

So basically, how does a normal human being finance an out-of-state, 2 years master's program, full time with/without a job that doesn't pay enough, cover rent, and pay for living expenses? And how would one do it by simply taking on a loan $20,000-$50,000?

I know I sound like a dick right now, but I feel like I'm missing some huge memo about financing my graduate education. I agree with all of you that having massive debt is a TERRIBLE idea, yet you all fail to mention how you're doing it by only taking on $20,000-$50,000 in debt. Chances are the school's full cost is going to be $40,000/year (on average) for public and around $60,000/year for private. It's like that scene in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" when they talk about blowing up the Death Star and a pilot complains that it would be impossible with the little means that they have and then some snub nosed brat named Luke chimes in, "It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters." (As you can clearly see, I prefer Star Wars over Star Trek).

If I'm wrong, I'll shut up. I apologize for my tone in advance.

Edited by parkjun888

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, parkjun888 said:

Let me ask you all a question. Unless you are independently wealthy/getting a HUGE scholarship, how are you NOT taking on loans that end up in triple digits?

Let me give you a scenario (a scenario for at least 1/3 of all students seeking their Masters, regardless of study):

~Assuming that you will NOT be working (aka full time student; also not being RA/TA because the gods wouldn't give you one)

~have to pay rent, spending money for living expenses.

~And let's say that the scholarship your school offers you is a small amount each year but nowhere near enough (because you clearly didn't make the necessary blood sacrifices to the gods).

~Sure there are lots groups and organizations throwing out money, but let's be real, $1000/year will only take you to the door of your classroom.

~Oh ya, add a 2 year program into this scenario because paying off a one year program is a completely different matter (a lot easier to manage). 

~I understand that the salaries people could make after graduation differ greatly due to... whatever reason. But let's assume that all salaries start at $50,000/year.

So basically, how does a normal human being finance an out-of-state, 2 years master's program, full time with/without a job that doesn't pay enough, cover rent, and pay for living expenses? And how would one do it by simply taking on a loan $20,000-$50,000?

I know I sound like a dick right now, but I feel like I'm missing some huge memo about financing my graduate education. I agree with all of you that having massive debt is a TERRIBLE idea, yet you all fail to mention how you're doing it by only taking on $20,000-$50,000 in debt. Chances are the school's full cost is going to be $40,000/year (on average) for public and around $60,000/year for private. It's like that scene in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" when they talk about blowing up the Death Star and a pilot complains that it would be impossible with the little means that they have and then some snub nosed brat named Luke chimes in, "It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters." (As you can clearly see, I prefer Star Wars over Star Trek).

If I'm wrong, I'll shut up. I apologize for my tone in advance.

 
5

@parkjun888 So far none of the schools I have applied to would even reach triple digits in debt, but this is also assuming I make at least 11k in part-time work a year and I use my savings of about 8k. I don't know how anyone could take on 100k of debt and not even consider trying to work while in the program, to minimize debt. 

 A couple of the schools are very close to the 100k mark, but these universities have offered enough grant and fellowship money to cover over half of the total cost. If I chose to go to a school in-state in California, tuition for the program is only 21k a year.  So far, I would be looking at about 40-50k of debt, but I am still seeking other ways to reduce that.  For one school, I called the admissions team, and I was able to increase my merit aid offer to more than double. 

Every program is different, and I think that your comment is an overstatement. I thought too when applying for my master's that there is no way that I would ever be able to afford it, but this application season proved me wrong. I was under the impression I would have to take out a minimum of 60k, and now I am sitting here with offers from decent universities with funding and even one program that is fully funded. There is still hope.  

 

But on the topic of realistic debt. Does anyone expect to take out more than 50k?

Edited by gradblues

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Parkjun888 I can't speak for the Americans, since in general my thought about you guys is "geez, how do they do it?" I'm from a country that will pretty much always fund my living expenses as long as I am in school (as well as insurance + flights to and from every semester) which leaves me needing to pay "only" tuition. As mentioned above, I can't really even afford that, so I am simply hoping for scholarships. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal belief is that you should not go into debt unless you are almost certain that you can pay it off with a certainty value of income (so the minimum you know, not think, you will get), and if you are comfortable with the actual amount of debt that you will be paying off. I use this student debt estimator to get a more realistic sense of what I will be paying and how much each month I will need to partition out.

Some schools actually pay their students' tuition (Princeton WWS) and some schools help you with student loan payments (HKS and Fletcher), and so there are some other resources that is available. I would say that not only would a fellowship help relieve some of the debt, you get connected to a more tight-knit network that is worth more than the actual amount. In addition, the teaching assistants/teaching fellows get a very strong connection to the professor they're doing it for, and so that's worth something also in addition to the financial benefits.

Overall, I would wipe the glitter and haze of "prestige" from the institution and see if the course curriculum and network is worth it for you. Proximity to power is higher at a prestigious school, but do you want that to be more than 40 percent of your decision? It very well may be, and we all have different preferences, so there's nothing wrong with taking social "prestige" and status over paying debt for decades--it just doesn't pass the cost-analysis benefit test for some people.

Good luck though. If you're in a minority group of some kind, use it to your advantage. You'd be surprised at what admissions and fellowship committees are looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, kbui said:

Overall, I would wipe the glitter and haze of "prestige" from the institution and see if the course curriculum and network is worth it for you.

Precisely. Make decisions based on financial reasoning and not "prestige." There's lots of ways to get there. You can:

1. Go to the best in-state option. There are plenty of good MPP/MPA programs at state schools all across the country (e.g. LBJ, Goldman, Evans, etc).

2. Apply to schools (e.g. Maxwell) that have a history of giving good financial support, even if they don't have the immediate institutional prestige.

3. Move to the city you want to be in (e.g. DC) and get a full-time job. Then complete your coursework part-time (e.g. at Trachtenberg or American). FWIW when I lived in DC and moved in public policy circles this was perhaps the most common pathway to graduate debt-free/with lower debt.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many people spend $50k or less on their public policy degrees - they can do this through merit aid (which is more common than you may think) and/or paying in-state tuition at a public university.  5 years ago, I ended up taking out just under $50k in loans for a dual degree (two years) at the Maxwell School with the help of significant merit aid.

Given the existing income-based repayment programs, theoretically you can take out any amount of federal loans (up to the cost of attendance), get a government job, and still not be destitute.  While I can't guarantee these programs will be in place or unchanged when you graduate, there hasn't been much talk of getting rid of them (Public Service Loan Forgiveness is another story).  I know several people who took out $100k+ in loans for their public policy degrees, and they are generally fine financially.  They make their income-based payments every month, so even though they are not necessarily making a dent in their loan balances (their balances may even be increasing as the interest accrues), they are not at risk of defaulting on their loans.  

But one thing I think a lot of us realized after we graduated is that public sector and nonprofit employers generally do not pay people more money because they attended Harvard instead of the University of Maryland or SUNY Albany.  You are very likely to start your job out of grad school and find yourself working with people from all types of academic backgrounds, and the high performers succeed and get promoted because of how they work, not where they studied.  Of the people I know with $100k+ in loans, I think they could easily be making the same amount of money without the six-figure degree.  Some of their peers did end up in high-paying consulting gigs, and that may very well be worth the cost of the degree.  However, I am of the mind that, if you want to go into consulting, you should just get an MBA.  If you want to go into government, you are not going to make substantially more money because you went to Harvard.

Bottom line is that if you really, really want to, you're not going to completely ruin your life by taking out $140-$150k in loans.  But it very likely will not be worth the investment, given that it is possible to spend a lot less on the same degree somewhere else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Avoid debt at any cost. I work in DC. A prestigious degree is not the ticket to success that you expect. Most of the important people I meet do not have prestigious degrees: they served in the army or Peace Corps, or worked for a campaign. Later in their career they earned a master's from some random school. 

Does a great degree help? Sure. But find a way to get it for an affordable price, or don't bother. It's better to spend a year or two working and improving your application than committing yourself to decades of debt because you think it'll get you somewhere. I have friends who are drowning in debt. It really negatively affects their quality of life, and limits their career choices. Don't do it. 

edit: to answer the question about how to make this happen. I only applied to schools that I knew I could afford (state schools), or which had a reputation for generous funding, or which would allow me to go to school part time while working. Between those I was able to cobble together some good options that would mean graduating without debt.

Edited by margota

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

19 hours ago, parkjun888 said:

So basically, how does a normal human being finance an out-of-state, 2 years master's program, full time with/without a job that doesn't pay enough, cover rent, and pay for living expenses? And how would one do it by simply taking on a loan $20,000-$50,000?

 

I mean, you can't do it, right? At least not at elite/prestigious/brand-name/hella expensive schools like Kennedy, Harris, Wagner, Sanford, etc. I applied to a few of theses programs with no intention of enrolling if I wasn't given significant funding. And I'm not nuts; I knew it was pretty unlikely that a program like HKS would give me enough financial aid to put me under $50,000 in debt. But who knows!

I think it's harder to justify taking out huge loans for a policy degree than other degrees. You need a JD to practice law. You don't need an MPP to work in policy. I'm interested in advocacy work, and I look at the people who have the jobs that I want to have in 10 or 20 years. Some have impressive degrees from impressive schools, and I'm sure the degree helped them. But many other folks don't have a brand-name MPP. Makes huge debt even more unappealing. 

I'd love to hear more people's philosophies around debt! If you think I'm way off, let me know :)

Edited by tinpants12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know what I consider a good amount for me and my situation, but I'm curious if anyone has actually found any statistics on the average aid and loans that public policy graduate students take out to fund their degrees.

I think another strong point is to try and limit your loans to tuition only if at all possible. Once you start adding on living costs and everything else, it quickly can reach a high level. For me this is an absolute necessity because otherwise there is no way I could afford a degree, and I know that this means that  I will have to work/choose an affordable location/budget, which is perfectly fine by me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

For those of us going back to school after some time in the workforce, I would keep in mind that if you convert your 401(k) to an IRA, you can use the funds to pay for tuition, books, supplies, and living expenses (including rent, if you are a full time student), without paying a penalty.  You will still have to pay income tax on the distributions, but since taxable income will likely be low while you are in school, that should be relatively minimal.

This is obviously not what I was hoping to use my retirement savings for as I have put it away over the past few years, but to me, this is preferable to going into massive debt to pay for school.  Will have time to build it back up over the years...

Edited by WallStreetConvert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, WallStreetConvert said:

For those of us going back to school after some time in the workforce, I would keep in mind that if you convert your 401(k) to an IRA, you can use the funds to pay for tuition, books, supplies, and living expenses (including rent, if you are a full time student), without paying a penalty.  You will still have to pay income tax on the distributions, but since taxable income will likely be low while you are in school, that should be relatively minimal.

This is obviously not what I was hoping to use my retirement savings for as I have put it away over the past few years, but to me, this is preferable to going into massive debt to pay for school.  Will have time to build it back up over the years...

This is super helpful to know, I'm going to investigate. I'm not sure how the calculation will come out -- whether it's better to take out money now from my IRA and not have to take out a loan and pay interest on it, or lose out on the compound interest of $10-15,000 (about what I think I'll need to bridge the gap till graduation) over decades. Hmmm. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 03/03/2017 at 8:17 AM, WallStreetConvert said:

For those of us going back to school after some time in the workforce, I would keep in mind that if you convert your 401(k) to an IRA, you can use the funds to pay for tuition, books, supplies, and living expenses (including rent, if you are a full time student), without paying a penalty.  You will still have to pay income tax on the distributions, but since taxable income will likely be low while you are in school, that should be relatively minimal.

This is obviously not what I was hoping to use my retirement savings for as I have put it away over the past few years, but to me, this is preferable to going into massive debt to pay for school.  Will have time to build it back up over the years...

This is definitely an option.  However, from a financial perspective I do not think it is the right one.  Given the benefits of student loans (income-based repayment, potential forgiveness in 10 or 25 years) and the fact that you can reasonably expect to get a better return from your IRA investments in the market compared with current student loan interest rates, you are potentially throwing away a lot of money.  The way I thought about it is, if I save money in my retirement fund, I will still have that money regardless of whether I get loan forgiveness or not, but if I use it to pay tuition/loans, that money is gone, regardless of whether I would be eligible for forgiveness or not.  If you draw down your retirement savings now, you'll have to build them back up later and make up for lost gains.  If you take out loans, the worst scenario is you'll have to pay them all back with interest (likely less interest than you are gaining in the market). 

It is unwise to take loans out with the expectation of them being forgiven.  However, it is also unwise to make financial decisions that totally ignore the likelihood you'd be eligible for forgiveness eventually, either in 10 or 25 years.  Yes, there might be a tax hit in 25 years, but you can take out a much smaller loan to pay the taxes - it can still be a massive benefit depending on how much gets forgiven.

The bottom line is, whether you take out loans or draw down your IRA, it is still going to cost you down the road.  The best option financially is to pay as little as possible for your degree in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My perspective on debt - 

1. If you need to take a loan, take one that you'd be able to pay off even if you returned to your home country post graduation (basically, always assume the worst case scenario). For me, that amount is a $15k loan that I plan on repaying in 5 years. (I will be taking a private education loan that is applicable for international students that require a co-signer who is a US citizen.) 

2. Minimise risks. Go to the school that will allow you to network (and work part time) with the organisations you'd like to work with post graduation. For me, that would require me to study in DC. (I've been offered admission with a 30% tuition waiver at McCourt, Georgetown and I intend on accepting the offer in the next few weeks). 

3. Don't be picky. You should be open to doing an entry-level job post an MPP. In the non profit sector, this would mean earning 45-60k per annum (starting salary). 

Basically, take as less debt as possible. My conversations with McCourt alum have reaffirmed my belief that a combination of minimal debt, great Quant skills, and working part time in DC in the organisations you'd like to work with post graduation make the investment in an MPP worth it. 

Would love to hear your thoughts on the same. 

Regards, 

Natasha Ahuja (from India) 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Current HKS student here. I was going through the same issues when I was applying for graduate school. Thankfully, I had no undergrad debt and I was VERY diligent about saving for school while I was working full-time. I saved about $40k total on a $50,000/year salary in a high-cost of living area. It was tough, but doable. 

I got a partial tuition scholarship at HKS, which ultimately enabled me to go there. I'm currently living with roommates and paying ~$800/month in rent (a steal in Cambridge). I'm working 15 hours a week at two different jobs, which brings in about $1,200 a month. I'm also planning to take advantage of HKS's loan repayment assistance program, where the school pays for a portion of your loans for up to 5 years post-graduation if you work in the public sector. I will graduate with a total of $20,000 in debt. 

That said, I would advise thinking very critically about what you want to do post-MPP before you take out loans. Do you want to work in state and local government, or at a small NGO? If so, I wouldn't advise taking out six figures of loan debt. 

  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I managed to graduate from SAIS with well below 100k debt, through a combination of scholarships, some meager savings, working part-time, and a little bit of help from my parents (flights home for holidays, money for a random medical bill I incurred, etc.). Guess what - it still sucks knowing that I'll be making a ~$500/month payment for the next 8.5 years of my life, even though I have a solid salary on the higher end of what someone can expect a year or two out of SAIS. That's about 6k/year I could be putting into a retirement account or using to save up for a down payment.

I have some friends who took on 6-figure debt loads, and it's a gigantic weight on their shoulders that will have major ramifications on their lives for decades to come. Think - living with roommates into your mid-30s, racking up credit card debt because you're short on cash when having to make that $900 payment each month (which basically just covers interest), having to make salary the #1 consideration in the job hunt (which sucks when you're getting a degree that qualifies you for some awesome but lower-paid jobs at non-profits and advocacy organizations), not being able to fly to friends' weddings or take vacations, etc.

Very few people emerge with no debt whatsoever, but if your only option is 100k+ in debt, I would unequivocally recommend walking away and working to make your application stronger for the next season. Quite frankly, a lot of these degrees accept way too many people as tuition fillers (yes, even at SAIS) and some of the people with 6-figure debt also have poorer career outcomes because they were the weaker candidates to begin with. This is not universal, but I've definitely noticed the correlation between people complaining about 150k in student debt and those who have pretty irrelevant jobs that probably pay less than $50k/yr (which isn't easy to live on in DC with no debt whatsoever).  

Edited by kb6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2017 at 4:54 PM, margota said:

Avoid debt at any cost. I work in DC. A prestigious degree is not the ticket to success that you expect. Most of the important people I meet do not have prestigious degrees: they served in the army or Peace Corps, or worked for a campaign. Later in their career they earned a master's from some random school. 

Does a great degree help? Sure. But find a way to get it for an affordable price, or don't bother. It's better to spend a year or two working and improving your application than committing yourself to decades of debt because you think it'll get you somewhere. I have friends who are drowning in debt. It really negatively affects their quality of life, and limits their career choices. Don't do it. 

edit: to answer the question about how to make this happen. I only applied to schools that I knew I could afford (state schools), or which had a reputation for generous funding, or which would allow me to go to school part time while working. Between those I was able to cobble together some good options that would mean graduating without debt.

Hear hear!!!

I work in DC policy circles as well. Those with money, power, and prestige - or even a decent paying upper-middle class - are not generally there because they went to a prestigious grad school. Far more relevant factors are, as you say, being a veteran or having worked for a successful political campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2017 at 0:07 AM, parkjun888 said:

Let me ask you all a question. Unless you are independently wealthy/getting a HUGE scholarship, how are you NOT taking on loans that end up in triple digits?

Let me give you a scenario (a scenario for at least 1/3 of all students seeking their Masters, regardless of study):

~Assuming that you will NOT be working (aka full time student; also not being RA/TA because the gods wouldn't give you one)

~have to pay rent, spending money for living expenses.

~And let's say that the scholarship your school offers you is a small amount each year but nowhere near enough (because you clearly didn't make the necessary blood sacrifices to the gods).

~Sure there are lots groups and organizations throwing out money, but let's be real, $1000/year will only take you to the door of your classroom.

~Oh ya, add a 2 year program into this scenario because paying off a one year program is a completely different matter (a lot easier to manage). 

~I understand that the salaries people could make after graduation differ greatly due to... whatever reason. But let's assume that all salaries start at $50,000/year.

So basically, how does a normal human being finance an out-of-state, 2 years master's program, full time with/without a job that doesn't pay enough, cover rent, and pay for living expenses? And how would one do it by simply taking on a loan $20,000-$50,000?

I know I sound like a dick right now, but I feel like I'm missing some huge memo about financing my graduate education. I agree with all of you that having massive debt is a TERRIBLE idea, yet you all fail to mention how you're doing it by only taking on $20,000-$50,000 in debt. Chances are the school's full cost is going to be $40,000/year (on average) for public and around $60,000/year for private. It's like that scene in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" when they talk about blowing up the Death Star and a pilot complains that it would be impossible with the little means that they have and then some snub nosed brat named Luke chimes in, "It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters." (As you can clearly see, I prefer Star Wars over Star Trek).

If I'm wrong, I'll shut up. I apologize for my tone in advance.

You are completely correct in your assessment. The inescapable conclusion is that the elite (public affairs) grad school market is completely out of synch with career outcomes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now