Jump to content

How do you deal with the fear about debt?


Recommended Posts

Long story short, I just calculated the amount I would have to take out in loans for tuition alone assuming a small scholarship and it's over 30k. Add loans for living expenses to that, even assuming I'm incredibly frugal and my partner is helping to support me, and I feel like I'm looking at 50k in debt for this degree. Feeling really down especially seeing as I already have over 40k in debt from my useless undergrad. This is what I want to do with my life and I don't want to get discouraged, but damn. I thought I was being smart by waiting a year and trying to get in-state tuition, but $50,000 is no joke. Is anyone else out there struggling with the price tag before even being admitted?

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, doctormelody said:

Long story short, I just calculated the amount I would have to take out in loans for tuition alone assuming a small scholarship and it's over 30k. Add loans for living expenses to that, even assuming I'm incredibly frugal and my partner is helping to support me, and I feel like I'm looking at 50k in debt for this degree. Feeling really down especially seeing as I already have over 40k in debt from my useless undergrad. This is what I want to do with my life and I don't want to get discouraged, but damn. I thought I was being smart by waiting a year and trying to get in-state tuition, but $50,000 is no joke. Is anyone else out there struggling with the price tag before even being admitted?

@doctormelody “This is what I want to do with my life and I don't want to get discouraged, but damn.“ The former part of that sentence is most important, saying this is what you want.  Money seldom fills the void of our inner desires.  If you want to go to school for social work, I would not let $50,000 in debt or any negative thoughts stop you.  Firstly, $50,000 isn’t really as vast as it seems because you probably have your entire life ahead of you. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, $50,000 would be like buying a nice, new car and making monthly payments.  As long as you work toward paying it off diligently, which can easily be done post-grad school using the minimalism approach, you’ll be fine.  Secondly, you never know how things can pan out: It very well could be that you have a rockstar first year and then qualify for a $20,000 endowed scholarship in your second year.  At the end of the day, you must have faith in yourself and that everything, somehow, some way will workout. 

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, harpert1 said:

@doctormelody “This is what I want to do with my life and I don't want to get discouraged, but damn.“ The former part of that sentence is most important, saying this is what you want.  Money seldom fills the void of our inner desires.  If you want to go to school for social work, I would not let $50,000 in debt or any negative thoughts stop you.  Firstly, $50,000 isn’t really as vast as it seems because you probably have your entire life ahead of you. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, $50,000 would be like buying a nice, new car and making monthly payments.  As long as you work toward paying it off diligently, which can easily be done post-grad school using the minimalism approach, you’ll be fine.  Secondly, you never know how things can pan out: It very well could be that you have a rockstar first year and then qualify for a $20,000 endowed scholarship in your second year.  At the end of the day, you must have faith in yourself and that everything, somehow, some way will workout. 

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

This is very inspiring, thank you. I just already have a lot of debt from my undergrad so it's really more like 95k and that would be without interest. I'm not the type of person that always has to have the newest, shiny thing, but I would like to have a house one day, y'know? At the same time, though, I've made no more than 12,000 a year since I graduated undergrad, so any salary bump would help, lol. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, doctormelody said:

This is very inspiring, thank you. I just already have a lot of debt from my undergrad so it's really more like 95k and that would be without interest. I'm not the type of person that always has to have the newest, shiny thing, but I would like to have a house one day, y'know? At the same time, though, I've made no more than 12,000 a year since I graduated undergrad, so any salary bump would help, lol. 

I understand. :)  The good thing, too, is that if you’re a first-time homebuyer you can qualify for an FHA loan where you only need 3.5% for down payment instead of the conventional 20-25%; and there’s the Public Service Loan forgiveness program which could wipe away your debt. Your day of goodness is coming!  And I have a feeling that you will get a salary bump pass $12k, probably even double or triple your salary. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, harpert1 said:

I understand. :)  The good thing, too, is that if you’re a first-time homebuyer you can qualify for an FHA loan where you only need 3.5% for down payment instead of the conventional 20-25%; and there’s the Public Service Loan forgiveness program which could wipe away your debt. Your day of goodness is coming!  And I have a feeling that you will get a salary bump pass $12k, probably even double or triple your salary. 

Hopefully at least that! Thank you for the positivity; it is much appreciated. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Doctormelody, glad to hear you are asking these questions before you have accumulated additional debt. 

I had the Post-9/11 GI Bill cover my MSW and living expenses, and for that I am grateful. I had several coworkers at the community mental health agency where I worked who took on loans to complete their MSW on top of the undergrad loans. Sounded like similar numbers to what you describe. They were rather frustrated about their financial situation, even 5 years post graduation. They were under the 10-year income-based repayment plan and couldn't qualify for the Public Service Loan forgiveness, despite working in community mental health. 

Their income did not support their goals like buying a home and having children. We are in Denver, which is a high cost-of-living area, so that may explain part of the problem but not all of it. The income-based repayment plan felt like a trap as they were essentially stuck in jobs that burned them out. They recommended not taking on this debt.

I recommend you do an honest assessment of your financial future before taking on debt for an MSW. Don't expect to get a fantastic scholarship or grant, a high-paying job, or qualify for a special loan forgiveness program. Figure things out based on median salaries, not the high end. New social work grads, and social workers in general, are commodities in the places that highly-educated people want to live. The MSW does not suddenly open a world of high-paying jobs to you and there is tough competition for entry-level social services positions. 

Sorry to be the dark cloud, but I think you need to hear this other perspective. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

As an FYI because someone I know just changed careers because they were denied, only 1% of those who applied for public service loan forgiveness were accepted, so I agree with @lincoln.hawks to not count on any program, etc. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/09/24/public-service-loan-forgiveness-rejected/#611c62b61824

Link to post
Share on other sites

@lincoln.hawks and @placeinspace, thank you for replying. I too read the article about only 1% of applications for PSLF being accepted and found it very sobering. 

@lincoln.hawks, do you mind if I ask why your coworkers did not qualify? Is it because you have to be on a standard repayment plan or something? I have income-based repayment now for my undergrad debt. My income is very low at the moment and I recently consolidated my loans so currently I pay $0 a month. I know that interest is accruing though. I just can’t afford to worry about it right now.

I definitely don’t expect PSLF to be a magic solution to all of my problems once I graduate, but I will admit to being slightly confused as to why so many people did not qualify. Hopefully it will improve in the coming years? I read that something like 28% of the applications were just incomplete, but that still leaves a significant portion of denials that can’t be chalked up to people just not filling out paperwork correctly.

@placeinspace, your friend changing careers because they were denied seems like an extreme example... surely it would make more sense to just reapply? Idk, maybe there’s something I’m missing here. It’s scary, for sure. I just don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t go into social work... I’m not a business-minded type person, and I have no desire to ever be anybody’s boss. I feel like at this point the jobs I’ve had are not gonna lead to anything that pays a living wage, so I almost feel like I have no choice but to go back to school. Idk though, maybe I’m wrong. I definitely want kids and a house someday, but I’m not gonna get there making 12k a year, either.

Edited by doctormelody
Link to post
Share on other sites

@doctormelody“The past is the worst predicament of future outcomes.”  I think it’s important to remember that every situation is dynamic and usually varies among different people.  As someone who studied economics in undergrad, I am a strong advocate for not incurring bad debt.  That said, there is a such thing as good debt; and one example of that can be furthering your education.  According to the Social Work Hiring Outlook, “The lowest-earning 10% of social workers earned less than $28,800”;  and this number jumps to $40,000 for those who have an MSW.  Thus, there is a really good chance that you could get a salary increase.  Just for the heck of this example let’s say that you’re making $30,000/year and after taxes that would be about $1,750/month.  If you kept your living expense in a similar predicament to what they are currently; saved a small portion of money each month; and paid back your loans you would be fine.  I think it’s great to rationalize your future financial status, but you should also envision a plan to get out of any burdens and just stick with it. Moreover, you would probably get a new job that pays better or even a promotion, as you would not become complacent. Also as a tangent, in addition to the 27% of public service loan applicants with incomplete information; 72% of applicants did not meet the requirements of the program (it was not that the money wasn’t there or anything nefarious).  If you stay on top of your payments, tracking/reporting, and also stay organized I think you’d be fine.  I just would hate to see you be discouraged in not doing something you’d probably be really good at and would enjoy, just because of money, at this fleeting stage of your life. 

Edited by harpert1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am very much in the same boat! I am so stressed about the amount of loans I'm going to have to potentially take out. My boyfriend is currently in medical school and will end up with about $200,000 in debt and so I want to add as little to that as I can. I want to go to Case Western so badly but its so incredibly expensive it's really worrying. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, harpert1 said:

@doctormelody“The past is the worst predicament of future outcomes.”  I think it’s important to remember that every situation is dynamic and usually varies among different people.  As someone who studied economics in undergrad, I am a strong advocate for not incurring bad debt.  That said, there is a such thing as good debt; and one example of that can be furthering your education.  According to the Social Work Hiring Outlook, “The lowest-earning 10% of social workers earned less than $28,800”;  and this number jumps to $40,000 for those who have an MSW.  Thus, there is a really good chance that you could get a salary increase.  Just for the heck of this example let’s say that you’re making $30,000/year and after taxes that would be about $1,750/month.  If you kept your living expense in a similar predicament to what they are currently; saved a small portion of money each month; and paid back your loans you would be fine.  I think it’s great to rationalize your future financial status, but you should also envision a plan to get out of any burdens and just stick with it. Moreover, you would probably get a new job that pays better or even a promotion, as you would not become complacent. Also as a tangent, in addition to the 27% of public service loan applicants with incomplete information; 72% of applicants did not meet the requirements of the program (it was not that the money wasn’t there or anything nefarious).  If you stay on top of your payments, tracking/reporting, and also stay organized I think you’d be fine.  I just would hate to see you be discouraged in not doing something you’d probably be really good at and would enjoy, just because of money, at this fleeting stage of your life. 

Thanks for the encouragement! You definitely bring up some good points. I guess I just wonder why so many people thought they would qualify but didn't? Like, did they just not keep up with the paperwork over that decade? It seems like it shouldn't be so complicated unless they don't actually want people to take advantage of it... but I guess that's just how stuff works when the government is involved.

@bloome, I definitely feel you on this, I have to consider my partner's future financial situation as well. The plan was always for him to help support me while I'm in grad school and for me to do the same thing down the line when/if he wants to go back to school, but I worry a lot that this won't be feasible if I'm saddled with an enormous amount of debt.

Edited by doctormelody
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, doctormelody said:

Thanks for the encouragement! You definitely bring up some good points. I guess I just wonder why so many people thought they would qualify but didn't? Like, did they just not keep up with the paperwork over that decade? It seems like it shouldn't be so complicated unless they don't actually want people to take advantage of it... but I guess that's just how stuff works when the government is involved.

@bloome, I definitely feel you on this, I have to consider my partner's future financial situation as well. The plan was always for him to help support me while I'm in grad school and for me to do the same thing down the line when/if he wants to go back to school, but I worry a lot that this won't be feasible if I'm saddled with an enormous amount of debt.

@doctormelody Lots of different reasons.  For example, some people were unaware that they had to make monthly payments for 10 years in addition to working a public service job for 10 years.  Some people did not stay on top of their creditors for reporting their payments made each month (and if you miss one payment, then you immediately cannot qualify). Some people thought they were in public service jobs but really their jobs did not meet the criteria.  All in all, this was a new program that was rolled out in a terrible way; transparency and clarity will more than likely be more upfront in the future. 

@bloome My partner is in law school and she has taken on a considerable amount of debt that I'm not happy about (lol) around $150,000 so I totally understand this predicament well.  I am usually a realist, but I am incredibly optimistic for everyone on this forum, for some reason, to get into great schools with great scholarships!

Edited by harpert1
Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, harpert1 said:

@doctormelody Lots of different reasons.  For example, some people were unaware that they had to make monthly payments for 10 years in addition to working a public service job for 10 years.  Some people did not stay on top of their creditors for reporting their payments made each month (and if you miss one payment, then you immediately cannot qualify). Some people thought they were in public service jobs but really their jobs did not meet the criteria.  All in all, this was a new program that was rolled out in a terrible way; transparency and clarity will more than likely be more upfront in the future. 

@bloome My partner is in law school and she has taken on a considerable amount of debt that I'm not happy about (lol) around $150,000 so I totally understand this predicament well.  I am usually a realist, but I am incredibly optimistic for everyone on this forum, for some reason, to get into great schools with great scholarships!

Gotcha, that makes sense.

That is a lot of debt but hopefully she will make good money when she’s done! I am hopeful too, I’m just also anxious, haha. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/9/2019 at 7:52 PM, bloome said:

I am very much in the same boat! I am so stressed about the amount of loans I'm going to have to potentially take out. My boyfriend is currently in medical school and will end up with about $200,000 in debt and so I want to add as little to that as I can. I want to go to Case Western so badly but its so incredibly expensive it's really worrying. 

$1400 per credit hour sounds insane for an MSW that is not from an Ivy League. Have you checked out Cleveland State's program? https://catalog.csuohio.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=26&poid=5872&returnto=1991
Likely not as strong as Case Western's, but close to 1/3 the cost.
 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, lincoln.hawks said:

$1400 per credit hour sounds insane for an MSW that is not from an Ivy League. Have you checked out Cleveland State's program? https://catalog.csuohio.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=26&poid=5872&returnto=1991
Likely not as strong as Case Western's, but close to 1/3 the cost.
 

Would you recommend it even if it was from an Ivy League school? There are only two Ivy League schools that have MSW programs, and Case Western is higher-ranked than Penn. Not disagreeing with you about the cost being absurd, the Ivy League comment just kinda threw me. I got into Columbia last year and everyone told me it wasn’t worth it because of the price. I saw someone saying on here that they kinda coast on their name and I pretty much agree with that. 

Edited by doctormelody
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, lincoln.hawks said:

$1400 per credit hour sounds insane for an MSW that is not from an Ivy League. Have you checked out Cleveland State's program? https://catalog.csuohio.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=26&poid=5872&returnto=1991
Likely not as strong as Case Western's, but close to 1/3 the cost.
 

I did consider Cleveland State but they just don't have the types of programs other schools like Case/Pitt/OSU do that I applied to. Case in particular is my top choice because they have a health track program for social workers who want to work in hospitals (which i do), they have study abroad options for the health track, they're the first social work school meaning I get a MSSA instead of a MSW, and I could also continue to live with my boyfriend. These are the extra things that make Case important to me, I just need to decide if its worth all that extra money. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, bloome said:

I did consider Cleveland State but they just don't have the types of programs other schools like Case/Pitt/OSU do that I applied to. Case in particular is my top choice because they have a health track program for social workers who want to work in hospitals (which i do), they have study abroad options for the health track, they're the first social work school meaning I get a MSSA instead of a MSW, and I could also continue to live with my boyfriend. These are the extra things that make Case important to me, I just need to decide if its worth all that extra money. 

Did you ever get your financial info from Pitt? I got the details of my merit award yesterday and it was really disappointing - only $4,000 a year. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/20/2019 at 11:06 AM, doctormelody said:

Did you ever get your financial info from Pitt? I got the details of my merit award yesterday and it was really disappointing - only $4,000 a year. 

Aw no I did not, did you get it through the mail? We're having a major snow storm right now so it could be a little delayed. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, bloome said:

Aw no I did not, did you get it through the mail? We're having a major snow storm right now so it could be a little delayed. 

Yes. Honestly not to worry you but I feel like maybe you should contact them because you already received your letter of admission with all the info about the statistics course and the enrollment deadline, right? The info about my merit award was in that letter, which was oddly long but then there were only like three sheets of paper in a giant envelope, lol.

Stay safe in the snowstorm and I hope you hear back about finances from more schools soon!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/19/2019 at 7:25 PM, doctormelody said:

Would you recommend it even if it was from an Ivy League school? There are only two Ivy League schools that have MSW programs, and Case Western is higher-ranked than Penn. Not disagreeing with you about the cost being absurd, the Ivy League comment just kinda threw me. I got into Columbia last year and everyone told me it wasn’t worth it because of the price. I saw someone saying on here that they kinda coast on their name and I pretty much agree with that. 

I would not recommend spending $1400 a credit hour for an MSW from any school unless cost is not an issue to you are looking to leverage their name in an area where the name is more important than the education. If you were to say, look for a position on a major museum's or foundation's board, a degree from Columbia may help. Social Work just doesn't have the return on investment. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, lincoln.hawks said:

I would not recommend spending $1400 a credit hour for an MSW from any school unless cost is not an issue to you are looking to leverage their name in an area where the name is more important than the education. If you were to say, look for a position on a major museum's or foundation's board, a degree from Columbia may help. Social Work just doesn't have the return on investment. 

Gotcha. I agree.

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
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.