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They say the two biggest financial decisions a person ever makes are the purchase of a vehicle or a house. Well who ever said that obviously never contemplated grad school tuition, particularly that of well-ranked private university. Or out-of-state rates at a public university for that matter. In either case, it represents the single largest expense that I have ever made to-date. At $20K-$60K it is more than the new car I purchased together with my wife in 2002. It’s even more expensive than the cost of housing in some parts of this country.

Those figures give me pause. Am I really making the right choice here?

The more I contemplate this, the more I realize there are two fundamental questions that I have to answer. Should I actually go to grad school? And if yes, which one?

The answer to the first is complex. While I have not completely sold myself on the whole grad school thing, a case for it is slowly but surely unfolding. I am in position that requires a Masters to advance. Those with such degrees command higher incomes. My family is supportive. Heck my wife wants out of this place, ASAP. My job status is uncertain and if I stay in California, I might be unable to ever find work outside the state. My kids are still young enough to move relatively easily. I have almost no debt of any type and enough savings. I can swing $25K in loans if necessary. As for NYC, it is closer to family and has decent post graduation job prospects. Still I get that “are you nuts for moving in this economy” feeling. It’s hard to shake that. In the end though, I believe this question will be answered far easier than I made it out to be.

That leaves the second question. Which school should I attend? On this, I don’t even have half the information I need to make a proper decision. The biggest missing piece is of course financial; I have nothing to work with. Both schools are not done awarding funding opportunities, nor have I gotten anything back from the Federal Government. Beyond that are unresolved program-related questions and concerns. So each day I do a little research and hope for another clue.

One step at a time.

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One thing most people dont realize about financial aid is once you hit grad school the only thing you can get is loans and those are need based to a certain point.

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Though, I can't offer much advice, I appreciate your clear description of the issue at hand. I am in the same boat. I have a nice offer from a school in FL that has a great funding package but isn't the focus I really want and an offer in NYC that is really expensive. At what point is it not worth it?

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remind yourselves why you applied in the first place. School debt is the easiest type of debt to manage. Furthermore, it's an investment in yourself. The education you will get and the networks you will develope will guide the rest of your future in whatever work you do. Sometimes a name is just a name...but if that name raises just one more eyebrow that can get you that job...the debt is worth every penny.

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If you can get the low interest direct loans, with deferred payment and maybe interest too, then it'll be ok. Provided the degree really does have direct application, as opposed to a pure science or lib arts degree that is overcrowded with masters graduates already.

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I have a kid. I moved to go to grad school. The kid adjusted.

I want to be a prof and grad school is the only way to make it happen. It has been sometimes difficult but totally worth it. It is my dream.

Is this your dream?

You have to follow your dreams. You've got to live. And you are lucky to have the opportunity. And you set a good example for your kids if you follow your dreams.

To do this will take a lot of $$ and energy & faith, so if it's not your dream then prolly don't do it.

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