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100k debt for IR Masters worth it?


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Hey folks, 

Really excited about pursuing graduate study, but as results are coming in, I am concerned about lack of funding. Is it absolutely crazy to take on so much debt for a Masters? I can't seem to find a job in IR without a degree, and it's the move all my peers are making - on the other hand, people older and wiser than me are telling me to avoid it at all costs. 

Any and all advice appreciated! Thanks. 

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These two things are concerning. Why aren't you getting any scholarship money? These programs aren't super competitive, so as long as you're not a functional idiot, you should be able to. Take a look

@elmo_says Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's a lot easier to make it anywhere if you come from money. My issue with you is that you're perpetuating the mindset that gets people suckered into these pro

That's my story.  I finished my Fulbright and decided to come back home and try to make an impact in my state. About 8 years of policy work later (with some international experience in between) I

Over a decade ago when I was in high school looking at colleges, most of my peers were planning on taking out loans to be able to afford elite private universities.  My parents strongly discouraged that, and I ended up graduating debt free from undergrad (I chose a school that offered me significant scholarship money over a slightly higher ranked school that offered me basically nothing).  I'm so glad that I did that, especially since I ended up studying English literature and was never super motivated to seek out high powered private sector jobs.  I did take out some loans for grad school, but they are pretty manageable.

Student loans are not the worst type of debt, but it is still real debt.  $100k in loans, at current interest rates, will accrue $500-$580 in interest every single month.  That's what you have to pay before you even start to make a dent in the balance.  And then factor in you'll also want to be saving for retirement, saving for a home, and at some point graduating from living with roommates.  

Income-based repayment plans are awesome and I think they would be the way to go in this situation, but you need to be aware that you'll likely be paying back your loans for 25 years (Public Service Loan Forgiveness might be a possibility, but Congress is likely to get rid of it soon, and many IR jobs don't qualify anyway).  That's basically committing to setting aside 10-15% of your income (over poverty level) for the majority of your working life towards your student loans.  

And yes, that is for an investment towards your future.  But IR degrees are pretty generalist - you're not going there to get specific skills or a certification that is absolutely required to get a job in the field.  There isn't any rule that says you HAVE to get an IR masters to get a job in the field.  So an alternative is to think carefully about what you want to do in IR (nonprofit?  State Department?  International finance?) and map out all possible ways to achieve your career goals.  If taking out $100k in loans for a generalist IR degree is still the best way, then go for it.  But it may be that a more specific degree (finance?), applying to the Foreign Service, taking the UN exam, or signing up for the Peace Corps are more cost effective ways to achieve your goals.

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100k debt for IR Masters

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I can't seem to find a job in IR without a degree

These two things are concerning. Why aren't you getting any scholarship money? These programs aren't super competitive, so as long as you're not a functional idiot, you should be able to. Take a look at the results pages for the various schools, SAIS, SIPA, HKS, etc. - people are getting 50, 60, 70k. So it's possible. Why aren't you?

Like - and stay with me until the end of the post, because this next part is going to sting - when it comes to hypercompetitive fields, be it academia or IR, if you're failing, so to say, at the first hurdle, the field is probably not for you. IR may seem glamorous, but doing something you're not built for becomes really old really quickly. Career outcomes are path-dependent, which means that, if you're starting at a disadvantage, barring some deus ex machina shit, you're going to stay at a disadvantage - and in a hypercompetitive field, that disadvantage will quickly catch up to you and leave you high and dry. 100k in debt, btw, is one hell of a disadvantage. That'll preclude you from taking most interesting entry-level jobs and will trickle down to seemingly innocuous stuff like not being able to attend networking happy hours because you have to catch the last train to Largo - stuff that cumulatively makes a big difference.

All of this isn't to say that you'll never amount to anything, but rather to say that you should avoid starting at a disadvantage. There's lots of reasons why somebody doesn't get scholarship money, and most of them are fixable. Do you lack work experience? Do you need to retake the GRE? Are you not applying widely enough? Is your application not telling a coherent narrative for what you want to do in the field and why School X is the best place to prepare yourself for it? If you don't know the answer to these questions, find out. Go on LinkedIn and set up some informational interviews with people in the field. Pick something you don't know about and learn about it, ideally by doing it. Immerse yourself in the field as a professional, not a starry-eyed child.

A note on work experience in IR: as someone who got a job in IR out of UG, don't get a job in IR out of UG. The entry-level stuff is all bureaucratic support (so, not the people who get to even touch policy with a 3 foot pole). It's a good way to learn about how the sausage is made, but that's about it. If I were to do it again, I'd get a job in something competitive, like consulting, that will teach you grit and concise analysis while also paying well and looking good on a resume, or I'd move abroad and do something crazy, e.g. start a beach bar in Trinidad, and learn from the ground up. Or work at an NGO that does fieldwork on the actual ground. You can arrive at policy from any background: I know former engineers, MDs, stock traders, artists, activists and so on who have successful careers in IR. It's all about what skills and network you can bring to the table. All this bullshit about what degree you have and where it's from and how much it cost is so fucking secondary.

Edited by ExponentialDecay
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No. 

Because IR is a hypercompetitive, long-shot field (especially the Foreign Service or jobs of that nature), I would never advise people to get into that much debt for this degree. Here's a common scenario for people interested in IR:
- move to DC
- take entry-level job in DC (sometimes this comes before the first step, depends on the person). Note that "entry-level" can also mean "internship" (unpaid or paid) or "fellowship". But whatever the official title, it'll likely be either a short-term job, or a low paid one, or both.
- Because you have a low-paying job in DC, and DC is expensive, you'll fork over a fair amount of money towards rent with roommates, or to live far away from the center and have a long commute.
- And you still have to pay off the loans.

The above is totally doable for a lot of people when they're young. But as you get older, if you're interested in marriage/having kids/home ownership, that large debt + little savings is a big obstacle to overcome. I know many people around my age (and I graduated undergrad quite a long time ago) who are "stuck" from doing things they want because they can afford to live in DC and pay off their debt, but little else on top of that. Since many of these types of jobs are sort of tied to DC, moving is not a very easy option.

If you're getting absolutely no funding at all, improve your application (this also means "work experience") and try again next year. Apply for external fellowships too; Rangel, Pickering, Payne, the new State dept IT fellowship, Truman scholarship, etc. If you're convinced you must get an IR degree first, at least go to a cheaper school (I think this is still a terrible idea, but it's up to you).

I can only speak for the people who want to enter Foreign Service/State Dept, but I've found work experience is more important than a degree, by far. No experience + fancy IR degree is not going to vastly improve prospects. Take whatever low-paying or temporary, but relevant, job in the field you want first, do that for a year or two, then go to grad school.

Of course, if you're already well-connected, or have family that can pay your tuition or rent or whatever, that is different. But as a person from a very broke family with 0 connections who made it in, I wouldn't get that debt/degree for just a slightly bigger chance. I'm especially concerned that my school is accepting more people straight from undergrad with no experience.

Edited by ZebraFinch
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Like you, until I found this forum, I really thought nothing of forking over 100K to get one of these degrees. I just thought of it as a substantial investment in my long-term future that would come back to pay me double what I put in, in the next 10-12 years. After reading this forum and talking with others, I've come to realize rather disconcertingly this is simply not the case. I learned that an IR degree isn't quite the ticket to the promised land I thought it would be in the middle of completing applications,  although I considered not applying, I said fuck it and did it anyways. I got in to all the schools I applied for, including my "dream school", but with very little if any funding. 

I don't want to be left in penury to pursue a degree/career that I thought was real, but is most likely a mirage. I've been poor before, and it sucks big time. Especially in the DC area. I'm not going to fork over substantial sums of money to get a credential that will probably lead nowhere. I've considered giving up and pursuing a degree in business analytics (even though I'm awful at math) and maybe using that somehow as a segue into IR in the private sector or maybe intelligence. I'm going to continue to study and take the FSOT exam and see where that leads me.  I'm even considering saving up money and starting an Alpaca farm and using that to get a foot in the door to import-export. 

I certainly wouldn't advise anyone taking out even 60K in debt let alone 100K to get one of these degrees. Ideally, it seems the best way to go about it is somehow miraculously get an employer in the field that will help you pay to get one of these degrees.

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Thanks for all the measured and helpful responses, folks. I really appreciate the advice from each of you. 

ExponentialDecay, I'm wondering how someone could not be built for a career in IR, or what would place them at a disadvantage (outside of the extreme debt that you mentioned). Barring the chance that I am in fact a functional idiot, I feel fairly qualified: I have a fancy UG degree, speak three languages, have spent time abroad and in DC for work. What do you think sets one person up for success in IR, compared to others? Thanks for the time. 

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1 hour ago, hola2288 said:

Thanks for all the measured and helpful responses, folks. I really appreciate the advice from each of you. 

ExponentialDecay, I'm wondering how someone could not be built for a career in IR, or what would place them at a disadvantage (outside of the extreme debt that you mentioned). Barring the chance that I am in fact a functional idiot, I feel fairly qualified: I have a fancy UG degree, speak three languages, have spent time abroad and in DC for work. What do you think sets one person up for success in IR, compared to others? Thanks for the time. 

Hola2288--If you do have a fancy UG degree, speak several languages, and have worked in D.C., you should have a real-life network that knows you personally that can likely give you better answers than what you read on this board. Yes, what people have written above is good advice in general, but it's always best to get tailored advice from people you trust. 

Anyways, serious success in IR is all about the grind. Look at the people you admire and check out their resumes--especially their earliest positions. Model yourselves after these career paths, within reason. 

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7 minutes ago, devpolicy said:

Hola2288--If you do have a fancy UG degree, speak several languages, and have worked in D.C., you should have a real-life network that knows you personally that can likely give you better answers than what you read on this board. Yes, what people have written above is good advice in general, but it's always best to get tailored advice from people you trust. 

Anyways, serious success in IR is all about the grind. Look at the people you admire and check out their resumes--especially their earliest positions. Model yourselves after these career paths, within reason. 

Does this advice also apply to internationally focused MPP degrees? The place I may go to is quant-heavy and very strong on domestic policy as well, so the versatility makes me happy, while the debt obligation will like be around the OP's.

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6 minutes ago, lackey said:

Does this advice also apply to internationally focused MPP degrees? The place I may go to is quant-heavy and very strong on domestic policy as well, so the versatility makes me happy, while the debt obligation will like be around the OP's.

Yes, it applies equally for the MPPs. The curriculum for MPPs at say SIPA and the Masters in IR program at Columbia do not vary that widely. Also, if you took undergraduate economic courses, those are basically comparable with what you'll learn quant wise at most top MPP programs. The biggest benefit is that you'll get the chance to learn some programming languages, capitalize  on those opportunities. 

Harris is a good program--which is what I assume you're talking about, if relatively young (which can hurt you from a networking standpoint). They're very good at conflict work in developing settings, but not sure how strong their other stuff in IR is.

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5 minutes ago, devpolicy said:

Yes, it applies equally for the MPPs. The curriculum for MPPs at say SIPA and the Masters in IR program at Columbia do not vary that widely. Also, if you took undergraduate economic courses, those are basically comparable with what you'll learn quant wise at most top MPP programs. The biggest benefit is that you'll get the chance to learn some programming languages, capitalize  on those opportunities. 

Harris is a good program--which is what I assume you're talking about, if relatively young (which can hurt you from a networking standpoint). They're very good at conflict work in developing settings, but not sure how strong their other stuff in IR is.

I'm interested in being a generalist on international affairs while having a strong domestic issues background since I'm interested in Hill/executive branch work. I am referring to Harris and was worried about the networking, but on the other hand it's pretty incredible to see them expanding so quickly. They have a great Dean so it looks like things are changing for the better. I'm still waiting on one fully funded program and some schollys that could get me closer to that $60k range, which I think would make the MPP undeniably worth it for me at that point. :) 

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2 hours ago, hola2288 said:

how someone could not be built for a career in IR, or what would place them at a disadvantage

At the risk of causing more offense, it's whatever is keeping you from winning scholarship money in spite of such great priors. If I met you and knew your profile in more detail, I could probably tell you; as it stands - well. Are you bad at selling yourself? Do you have some critical flaw, like being difficult to get along with, or phoning it in at jobs (although tbh I am both of those things and I do okay) ? Are you networking? It could also be something outside of your control - maybe you're simply unlucky. I do know for a fact that the few truly entry-level IR jobs recruit at "fancy" US schools (though fancy is a stretchable concept), and if you have a good GPA from a good school and a good GRE, you're already in good standing to receive some small funding at some of your programs at least. 

I agree with @devpolicy that you should ask your real life network for advice. You never know - they may be able to offer more than advice, even. I disagree that IR is all about grit. There's a non-trivial element of luck involved as well. I struggle to consistently motivate myself to perform at the level where I need to be to successfully take advantage of those rare chances because I'm afraid that all my effort will be wasted on a chance that never comes, btw, which is a casualty to consider for y'all who are looking into the field.

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I think @MaxwellAlum's advice is spot on. Generally, yes, $100k in loans is a horrible idea. 

If you haven't done this yet, make sure you understand what paying off 100K loans looks like every month: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/loan-calculator.aspx 

100K over 10 years at 5.7% interest (which i think is about average interest for Dep of Ed loans for grad students) is $1,095 a month. That is insane. That was the price of rent in my bare bones apartment in DC. It sounds like you have work experience, but for anyone reading this who has not been financially independent before, this is a TON of money. It is really hard to make this work with a public service income, and you will feel it. Even if you pay it off over a longer period of time at a lower monthly rate (~$600), it is still really expensive!

Plus, I think it is important for people to have a financial safety net and start building it when they are young. Shit happens and you need to be able to pay for it. For example, dropping your phone in a pool, your computer crashing, wanting to visiting someone you love who is sick, your apartment flooding or getting broken into (get renters insurance PLEASE), medical issues of all shapes, severities and sizes, friends getting married and having babies in distant corners of the country/world. When I had just graduated from college I didn't realize how many things of this nature would happen, but unexpected expenses are a very predictable part of life. Plus, being able to travel for fun or engage in hobbies that bring you joy is pretty sweet. 

I would also encourage you to map out what you want to do and all possible paths to it. Talk to people who took untraditional paths to the career you want. And also, constantly ask yourself why you want it, because I think we can get caught in the sparkly exterior of our career dreams without prodding a bit to see what is actually behind it. Why do you want this career? What natural skills and strengths of yours does it engage? What about the day-to-day of this job appeals to you? What larger impact does it work towards? Think beyond the field but the actual position you want within that field or organization, because this significantly alters the type of path you should take to said career goal. 

Edited by gelatinskeleton
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10 minutes ago, gelatinskeleton said:

I think @MaxwellAlum's advice is spot on. Generally, yes, $100k in loans is a horrible idea. 

If you haven't done this yet, make sure you understand what paying off 100K loans looks like every month: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/loan-calculator.aspx 

100K over 10 years at 5.7% interest (which i think is about average interest for Dep of Ed loans for grad students) is $1,095 a month. That is insane. That was the price of rent in my bare bones apartment in DC. It sounds like you have work experience, but for anyone reading this who has not been financially independent before, this is a TON of money. It is really hard to make this work with a public service income, and you will feel it. Even if you pay it off over a longer period of time at a lower monthly rate (~$600), it is still really expensive!

Plus, I think it is important for people to have a financial safety net and start building it when they are young. Shit happens and you need to be able to pay for it. For example, dropping your phone in a pool, your computer crashing, wanting to visiting someone you love who is sick, your apartment flooding or getting broken into (get renters insurance PLEASE), medical issues of all shapes, severities and sizes, friends getting married and having babies in distant corners of the country/world. When I had just graduated from college I didn't realize how many things of this nature would happen, but unexpected expenses are a very predictable part of life. Plus, being able to travel for fun or engage in hobbies that bring you joy is pretty sweet. 

I would also encourage you to map out what you want to do and all possible paths to it. Talk to people who took untraditional paths to the career you want. And also, constantly ask yourself why you want it, because I think we can get caught in the sparkly exterior of our career dreams without prodding a bit to see what is actually behind it. Why do you want this career? What natural skills and strengths of yours does it engage? What about the day-to-day of this job appeals to you? What larger impact does it work towards? Think beyond the field but the actual position you want within that field or organization, because this significantly alters the type of path you should take to said career goal. 

This is pretty solid advice, but doesn't working in public service for 10 years change the calculus of this?

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12 minutes ago, lackey said:

This is pretty solid advice, but doesn't working in public service for 10 years change the calculus of this?

Don't bank on it. In my experience public services employees lol at people who are expecting PSLF to actually pay out. 

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5 minutes ago, lackey said:

Because the bills are still high or because Congress might withdraw it?

My understanding is that most positions within anything IR related in public sector don't even qualify for PSLF. 

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7 minutes ago, lackey said:

Because the bills are still high or because Congress might withdraw it?

 

8 minutes ago, Nico Corr said:

My understanding is that most positions within anything IR related in public sector don't even qualify for PSLF. 

The concern that I have most often heard expressed is that people will do IBR and not cover interest, their loans will balloon while they are anticipating PSLF, and due to either their misunderstanding of their eligibility or to Congress dropping the program they will be saddled with massive debt.

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4 minutes ago, Poli92 said:

 

The concern that I have most often heard expressed is that people will do IBR and not cover interest, their loans will balloon while they are anticipating PSLF, and due to either their misunderstanding of their eligibility or to Congress dropping the program they will be saddled with massive debt.

That's a fair concern. I'll keep my eye out if it comes to that...

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32 minutes ago, lackey said:

This is pretty solid advice, but doesn't working in public service for 10 years change the calculus of this?

Not so much in my opinion. You know how they say that you should never lend money to anyone unless you are ok with never seeing that money again? I think it applies here as well. Public service loan forgiveness is an AWESOME reward if you do end up working in public service for 10 years and everything goes according to plan, but you should not count on it. Every federal government employee that I have talked to about it has not qualified, but full disclosure, I've only talked to like 4 people about it. 

You still have to make payments for 10 years, which are arguably the most financially unstable years of your life. If you do income based repayment it may be manageable. However, I think if you CAN pay more of your loans but are paying the bare minimum in hopes that you will have a large chunk forgiven after ten years, the interest you accumulate + uncertainty around actually getting paid out = bad idea. 

I'm not sure what field you want to go into, but a secret about working for the federal government is that a lot of people who "work for the government" actually work for private contractors. Government jobs are hard to get, and these contractor jobs are in my opinion really great ways to work in your field despite this limit on fed jobs. In some cases, they are more interesting than actual government positions, which come with a heap of legal and bureaucratic responsibilities that do not appeal to everyone. Contractor jobs are often through private companies and won't qualify for loan forgiveness. I'm not sure what it's like within state or local government, but I feel fairly confident in this assessment for the fed/IR/international development world.

I think my biggest issue is that depending on PSLF limits your career decisions. 10 years is a long time and, as obvious as it may sound, your life is going to change. You may move somewhere and the only job you can find that pays the rent and that wont bore you to death is not in the public sphere. Your government job might get slashed and burned during budget cuts so you flee or get laid off and take the first job you can find, and it happens to be in the private sector. Even if you do that just temporarily, I believe that makes you unqualified for public service loan forgiveness (please correct me if I am wrong!!). You also may get a job offer doing something insanely awesome that will challenge you/expand your horizons/help you save 10 million starving children/allow you to live in your dream country -- but it might be in a private organization. 

Plus, policy change and bureaucracy. Programs can be canceled at any time and rules can change. I don't remember the details but my fed colleagues said that the process was tricky and they hadn't realized they were not qualifying for it. I'll see if I can find some more info on what exactly tripped them up. I would make sure you keep an eye out on all the rules and regulations on how to qualify, but don't plan your life around it. 

Edited by gelatinskeleton
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Re: PSLF  As someone who is cautiously hoping to receive forgiveness and been submitting my certification forms, I will say it is an awesome deal.  Paying 10% of your income over 10 years is significant (after 5 years of raises my husband and I are paying a combined $1,000 each month, and boy would we love to be able to do other things with that money), but the forgiveness is a massive benefit and fortunately tax free.  Laugh if you like, but my understanding is that there are people who have received forgiveness, just not many because of the intricacies of the repayment plans available in 2007 (if you think I'm being foolish, bear in mind the money I'd otherwise spend paying off my loans faster is going straight into my 401k, which is a much better bet than throwing money into loans that might be forgiven).  If you're starting now, the rules are pretty clear for someone working in government (nonprofits is a bit dicier), and if you pay close attention (don't rely on your servicer, know which repayment plans qualify and make sure you are on one of them), I don't think there's a huge risk of being denied.

For people considering grad school now, there is a very real possibility the program will be eliminated soon for new borrowers.  That being said, if you start grad school in the fall of 2018, you might still qualify.  The proposed House bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (the PROSPER Act) effectively eliminates the program for people who take out their first loans in July 2019, but if you start borrowing before then, you can keep taking out qualifying loans until 2024. (see https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/student-loan-ranger/articles/2017-12-13/potential-effects-of-prosper-act-on-student-loans )

There are definitely still risks that they will turn around and eliminate the program for everyone or otherwise change the terms I've described above.  But another major risk is that you'll finish grad school and realize you really want to work in the private sector, or for another non-qualifying organization like the UN, the World Bank or the IMF (surprisingly employment at international organizations does not qualify for PSLF).  That's why I would not recommend going into grad school counting on PSLF - grad school should open up career options, not limit them.

Edited by MaxwellAlum
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19 minutes ago, MaxwellAlum said:

Re: PSLF  As someone who is cautiously hoping to receive forgiveness and been submitting my certification forms, I will say it is an awesome deal.  Paying 10% of your income over 10 years is significant (after 5 years of raises my husband and I are paying a combined $1,000 each month, and boy would we love to be able to do other things with that money), but the forgiveness is a massive benefit and fortunately tax free.  Laugh if you like, but my understanding is that there are people who have received forgiveness, just not many because of the intricacies of the repayment plans available in 2007 (if you think I'm being foolish, bear in mind the money I'd otherwise spend paying off my loans faster is going straight into my 401k, which is a much better bet than throwing money into loans that might be forgiven).  If you're starting now, the rules are pretty clear for someone working in government (nonprofits is a bit dicier), and if you pay close attention (don't rely on your servicer, know which repayment plans qualify and make sure you are on one of them), I don't think there's a huge risk of being denied.

For people considering grad school now, there is a very real possibility the program will be eliminated soon for new borrowers.  That being said, if you start grad school in the fall of 2018, you might still qualify.  The proposed House bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (the PROSPER Act) effectively eliminates the program for people who take out their first loans in July 2019, but if you start borrowing before then, you can keep taking out qualifying loans until 2024. (see https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/student-loan-ranger/articles/2017-12-13/potential-effects-of-prosper-act-on-student-loans )

There are definitely still risks that they will turn around and eliminate the program for everyone or otherwise change the terms I've described above.  But another major risk is that you'll finish grad school and realize you really want to work in the private sector, or for another non-qualifying organization like the UN, the World Bank or the IMF (surprisingly employment at international organizations does not qualify for PSLF).  That's why I would not recommend going into grad school counting on PSLF - grad school should open up career options, not limit them.

Thank you! This is quite useful. The IO thing shocks me, but my heart's always been with US organizations anyway :).

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On 3/13/2018 at 9:22 AM, lackey said:

Thank you! This is quite useful. The IO thing shocks me, but my heart's always been with US organizations anyway :).

Glad to be of help!  I do just want to echo some of the points gelatinskeleton made.  When you are this early in your career, so much can change.  Of my cohort that did a dual MPA/IR degree several years ago, about half are working in something related to IR, and the other half are working on domestic and local policy.  A surprising number of us are in local government.  At least in my case, I made a choice to work in local government, despite having an offer to work in an international organization, because I realized I didn't want to live abroad again.  I think a lot of people who study IR realize later on that other sectors are a better fit for them, or they happen to find interesting positions in other sectors that pay better.   Of those working in IR, it's a mix of people working for USAID/State/Defense contractors (for profit and nonprofit), international orgs (World Bank, IADB), and US government (State, Treasury).  Some worked for a couple of years in IR-related jobs with the Feds, disliked their jobs, and left for non-IR related jobs in the private sector.  I believe a lot of those in the Federal government went into the master's program with a scholarship that required them to work with the Feds after graduation (and thus got support in securing a position).  Many people I know who wanted to work in the Federal government were very frustrated with USAJobs, and many were not able to get in.  Personally, I don't think you should count on getting a US government job in IR.  It may be other schools are better than Syracuse at placing folks, but my experience is that folks with a very narrow focus in their job search are likely to be frustrated.

Edited by MaxwellAlum
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41 minutes ago, subtle said:

Maybe this is a silly question, but what is a normal/"appropriate" amount of debt? My napkin math says that even with fully-funded tuition and a decent housing stipend, I'll still need about $13,000 a year to live on in a major city. Is ~$30,000 an "ok" amount of debt?

Seconding this question. I'm pretty excited to have a 60% funding offer from my top school and when I first received the offer I thought great, I'm all set. But after looking at the school's tuition + estimated costs I'll still need to take out around $70,000 in loans. That seems high to me, but this is the best offer I've gotten.

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