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doctormelody

Should I attend this fall or wait (another) year and apply for a more affordable program?

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Hi hello it's me, creator of a million and one threads, haha. Sorry to post again but I really need some advice. I was accepted to Pitt yesterday (yay!!) and I really want to go. However, I'm worried about the amount of debt I will have to take on in addition to the debt I already have from undergrad. This is my second cycle applying, and I have a strong desire to start grad school this year. I feel like I'm ready and I don't see the point of waiting any longer (it's already been almost four years since I graduated from undergrad). However, I can't stop comparing the tuition at Pitt (22k) with the tuition at the top-ranked program in my (former) home state (12k) and feeling upset by it. I feel like I should have applied to the program in my home state before and essentially the only reason I didn't is because my partner refused to consider living in that city. I was fine with this at the time because I really wanted to move out of the state, but now I feel like maybe we made a mistake by moving here. Additionally, there is a small possibility that my partner may soon have a job opportunity in or around our former town, which is a reasonable distance from the city in which the other MSW program is located. A lot of people commute between the two, and I would consider this as well if the opportunity presented itself.

I guess my question is... am I being an idiot by not considering the much more affordable (lower-ranked but still respected) program? The big issue is that I would have to wait another year to apply. The deadline is too soon to ask my recommenders to write me another letter and if I applied now I wouldn't qualify for in-state tuition, which would sort of defeat the purpose. There are definitely pros and cons to both - I don't love the city of Pittsburgh, and I miss aspects of my hometown, such as the natural beauty of the area and being close to family. However, decent jobs are pretty hard to come by in that area and it would be so embarrassing to move back after all this. I also don't want to wait an additional year to start grad school, and I don't want to put myself and my recommenders through through the process of applying for the third year in a row! There's also no guarantee that I would get in, and if I didn't I'd be in a much worse position than I am now. But the tuition... I'm so conflicted! Please help!

Edited by doctormelody

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I think it is a decision you have to make for yourself. Ask yourself though if putting it off will solve the debt issue if you don't end up moving back or will you just have an extra year to worry about money at a lower pay rate (not to mention another year if the stressful waiting for admission letters( If you do move back you could always apply for a transfer to the other school.

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23 minutes ago, ErinCM said:

I think it is a decision you have to make for yourself. Ask yourself though if putting it off will solve the debt issue if you don't end up moving back or will you just have an extra year to worry about money at a lower pay rate (not to mention another year if the stressful waiting for admission letters( If you do move back you could always apply for a transfer to the other school.

Hey, thanks for replying! I'm kinda confused, are you saying I should consider attending Pitt and then applying as a transfer to the school in my home state? That wouldn't make sense because I have established residency here and so I wouldn't qualify for in-state tuition, which would make the other program less affordable than Pitt. I'm confused by what you mean when you mention putting it off as well... if we don't move home before August, I'll almost certainly be going to Pitt. I suppose I could request a deferral, but again, there wouldn't be much point seeing as I would then have to pay out-of-state tuition if I applied to the school in my home state. Does that make sense? Sorry if I worded that confusingly.

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I am confused by what you are saying maybe because I'm Canadian and we have a different system here. My advice though was to accept your admission offer rather than putting it off. I know you are worried about debt, but waiting another year won't change your financial situation much and at least when you finish school you will likely get a higher paying job which will make it easier to pay off your loans. If you decide to move back to your hometown you can apply to transfer schools then, but don't put off something that you want to do on a maybe. Does that make more sense?

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10 minutes ago, ErinCM said:

I am confused by what you are saying maybe because I'm Canadian and we have a different system here. My advice though was to accept your admission offer rather than putting it off. I know you are worried about debt, but waiting another year won't change your financial situation much and at least when you finish school you will likely get a higher paying job which will make it easier to pay off your loans. If you decide to move back to your hometown you can apply to transfer schools then, but don't put off something that you want to do on a maybe. Does that make more sense?

I'm sorry, I think I explained it super confusingly! Thank you so much for the advice. The issue is that my program doesn't begin until August, which is when I would be moving, so I can't apply as a transfer because if we move back I would never actually attend Pitt. In order to apply as a transfer I'd have to commit to staying here another year, which would defeat the point of applying to the other school because then I wouldn't get in-state tuition.

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2 hours ago, ErinCM said:

I think it is a decision you have to make for yourself. Ask yourself though if putting it off will solve the debt issue if you don't end up moving back or will you just have an extra year to worry about money at a lower pay rate (not to mention another year if the stressful waiting for admission letters( If you do move back you could always apply for a transfer to the other school. 

I second this. I'll add that perhaps you and your partner can sit down and weigh the pros and cons of both options and come to a decision with the greatest benefit.

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2 hours ago, Noegenesis said:

I second this. I'll add that perhaps you and your partner can sit down and weigh the pros and cons of both options and come to a decision with the greatest benefit.

Thank you for replying. I guess there’s no real clear answer to this dilemma. Would knowing the numbers help anyone to have a stronger opinion? If I go to Pitt I’ll probably end up with about 85-100k of total debt vs. around 70k for the other school.

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5 hours ago, doctormelody said:

Thank you for replying. I guess there’s no real clear answer to this dilemma. Would knowing the numbers help anyone to have a stronger opinion? If I go to Pitt I’ll probably end up with about 85-100k of total debt vs. around 70k for the other school.

Cost of living, salary upon graduation, current salary, living expenses...those are all factors that need to be considered.

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32 minutes ago, Noegenesis said:

Cost of living, salary upon graduation, current salary, living expenses...those are all factors that need to be considered.

Do you mean cost of living for each school or cost of living when I graduate? If you mean cost of living when I graduate that’s impossible to know because we don’t know where we want to settle down yet. Cost of living is cheaper in my home state for groceries/gas/etc but for rent it’s probably about the same.

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Also my current salary is too low to merit mention here but but fwiw everyone in my life seems to think I am significantly underachieving in this realm, so take that as you will.

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I think you should go for it. However, I agree on it being a decision you just have to make yourself. Talk to your partner about it and think of you. Congratulations on your admission!

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2 minutes ago, cfeg24 said:

I think you should go for it. However, I agree on it being a decision you just have to make yourself. Talk to your partner about it and think of you. Congratulations on your admission!

Thank you! That’s what I’m leaning toward. I really appreciate everyone’s replies!

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