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Loans cover Tuition and Rent (don't know what to do about Books, Gas, Food)

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If all goes well, I'll be a graduate student in Fall 2019 -- I'm hoping to get accepted, but then comes the issue of surviving 2 years of not working.  Here are some of my parameters:

  1. Federal Stafford Loans will cover Tuition and Rent ($20,500 per year for 2 years)
  2. Hoping to be full time student (2 days internships / 3 days classes)
  3. Receiving help from family is not an option
  4. I've been working for a decade in between Undergrad and Graduate School
  5. I have some savings, but not enough to cover my deficit

Questions:

  1. For a full-time student, how feasible is it to work part time?  Is it worth it?
  2. If scholarships fall through, are additional loans the best option?
  3. How long can I subsist on cans of beans and ramen before my health is compromised?

This is all very exciting and terrifying at the same time.  I would appreciate any and all advice.
Thank you.

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Based on your name, I'm assuming it's an MSW program. I know many people who have worked full-time while pursuing an MSW. Even full-time, masters level degrees usually allow for time to work. PhDs are usually tougher because of all the added research requirements and funding is usually tied to working as an RA or TA. I would also try to limit the loans as much as possible (I know they are hard to remove altogether) because loan interest can rack up quickly and MSWs aren't always the highest earners. PSLF is a crapshoot given how many people have been denied for it thus far, and you don't want your overall quality of life to suffer afterwards because of heavy student loan payments. 

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Depending on where in the world your program is and your specific financial needs, going to school full time may not be the best choice.  Yes that would be ideal because you'd finished faster, get licensed faster, and be a full fledged professional faster.  However there are plenty of MSW students who go 3/4 time or 1/2 time and things still work out for well for them in the end.  I say this not to be discouraging, but more to say that this is also a great option if necessary.

However, there are many MSW students who do attend full time and work part or full time.  If you're able to find a job in the field that offers tuition reimbursement and/or funds for books that will reduce loans that you need.  It may also help to look at where you can cut or reduce expenses.  What can you live without for 2 years?  Subscription tv service?  Dining out?  A gym membership?  Can you switch to a cheaper auto insurance company?  Maybe take a roommate?  

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Posted (edited)

I worked full time during my (also full-time) master's program, but I was alone in a new city in a long-distance relationship, so I wasn't worried about offending friends and family by only concentrating on school for a short time. I wouldn't say "it really isn't that difficult" as BTF seems to think, but it wasn't impossible (for me).

Edited by Levon3

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Despite my work, I ended up having to take out additional loans, and I'm still paying them off. I'm not sure whether I'd do it again tbh. I think the advice to go 3/4 or 1/2 time and just take longer may be good advice. I also ate a lot of lentil soup. You can add various on-sale veggies and stuff to it and change it up flavor-wise.

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I'm in a similar boat.  One of the two acceptances I have so far has nominated me for a nice fellowship with restrictions on outside work.  My dilemma is that I went through a divorce about two years ago from which I basically took nothing.  I was lucky enough to get a job since that included fully furnished housing and meals, but now, at 46, I find myself about to relocate to a graduate program with nothing but books, clothes, two cats and my car.  However, with still paying off debt from my marriage and being well past the point where I would ask family for help, I don't have a pool of resources outside of myself to lean on.

That being said, getting into this program is my dream after the first half of my life where I already raised a family and had a mortgage.  I'm fully prepared to spend the money on myself to achieve a goal that may not be possible otherwise.  Although I know the adage is don't go to grad school if you have to pay for it, I've already decided to take advantage of some of my loan availability at least the first semester/year in order to help cover some expenses if I need to.  

I think it's just subjective on whether or not it can or should be justified.  I'm fully aware of what it means to take on some loans and am prepared to deal with that decision when all is said and done.  HTH

 

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Thank you all for the feedback.  I got accepted into my program and I start in the fall.  This topic has become a lot more serious.

On 3/8/2019 at 4:40 AM, BTF said:

Get a full or part time job during school, it really isn’t that difficult to manage your time accordingly. 

To BTF

  1. I'll be on campus or at an unpaid field placement 8a-5p Mon-Fri (I might be able to work on weekends, but would like to study during the week)
  2. The managers at my current job are willing to take me as a contractor during winter and fall breaks (as long as work is available)
  3. I've signed up for Lyft (as a backup plan if my refrigerator runs empty)
On 3/8/2019 at 5:58 AM, PsyDGrad90 said:

Based on your name, I'm assuming it's an MSW program. I know many people who have worked full-time while pursuing an MSW. Even full-time, masters level degrees usually allow for time to work. PhDs are usually tougher because of all the added research requirements and funding is usually tied to working as an RA or TA. I would also try to limit the loans as much as possible (I know they are hard to remove altogether) because loan interest can rack up quickly and MSWs aren't always the highest earners. PSLF is a crapshoot given how many people have been denied for it thus far, and you don't want your overall quality of life to suffer afterwards because of heavy student loan payments. 

To PsyDGrad90:

  1. I'm 34 now and I'll just have finished paying off my undergraduate loans a month before grad school starts (haha)
  2. I'm switching careers (tech/media -> Social Work) and I think I want to start this transition as quickly as possible
  3. I'm not even hoping Loan Forgiveness, but thanks for bringing it up
  4. I'm not so much worried about paying back loans or the relatively low pay in social work in the future (I've already accepted that), I'm just trying to not to add financial pressures during school (I just want to stay focused on my studies and field practicum)
On 3/8/2019 at 12:44 PM, MarineBluePsy said:

Depending on where in the world your program is and your specific financial needs, going to school full time may not be the best choice.  Yes that would be ideal because you'd finished faster, get licensed faster, and be a full fledged professional faster.  However there are plenty of MSW students who go 3/4 time or 1/2 time and things still work out for well for them in the end.  I say this not to be discouraging, but more to say that this is also a great option if necessary.

However, there are many MSW students who do attend full time and work part or full time.  If you're able to find a job in the field that offers tuition reimbursement and/or funds for books that will reduce loans that you need.  It may also help to look at where you can cut or reduce expenses.  What can you live without for 2 years?  Subscription tv service?  Dining out?  A gym membership?  Can you switch to a cheaper auto insurance company?  Maybe take a roommate?  

To MarineBluePsy:

  1. I'm already curtailing any unnecessary purchases (but how ascetic could I be?)
  2. I still want health insurance, but that's going to be the biggest potential cost savings (but I want health insurance, haha)
  3. And you're right...saving money is WAY easier than earning money
On 3/12/2019 at 6:37 AM, Levon3 said:

Despite my work, I ended up having to take out additional loans, and I'm still paying them off. I'm not sure whether I'd do it again tbh. I think the advice to go 3/4 or 1/2 time and just take longer may be good advice. I also ate a lot of lentil soup. You can add various on-sale veggies and stuff to it and change it up flavor-wise.

To Levon3:

  1. I'm currently experimenting on affordable nutritious food
    1. A lot of crock-pot meals with potatoes or other veggies (mainly for dinner)
    2. Protein shakes for lunch (it's literally $0.80 per "lunch", but is soul-crushing)
    3. A lot of tuna sandwiches
On 3/12/2019 at 10:30 AM, JennyGoat said:

I'm in a similar boat.  One of the two acceptances I have so far has nominated me for a nice fellowship with restrictions on outside work.  My dilemma is that I went through a divorce about two years ago from which I basically took nothing.  I was lucky enough to get a job since that included fully furnished housing and meals, but now, at 46, I find myself about to relocate to a graduate program with nothing but books, clothes, two cats and my car.  However, with still paying off debt from my marriage and being well past the point where I would ask family for help, I don't have a pool of resources outside of myself to lean on.

That being said, getting into this program is my dream after the first half of my life where I already raised a family and had a mortgage.  I'm fully prepared to spend the money on myself to achieve a goal that may not be possible otherwise.  Although I know the adage is don't go to grad school if you have to pay for it, I've already decided to take advantage of some of my loan availability at least the first semester/year in order to help cover some expenses if I need to.  

I think it's just subjective on whether or not it can or should be justified.  I'm fully aware of what it means to take on some loans and am prepared to deal with that decision when all is said and done.  HTH

 

To JennyGoat:

  1. Our boats might even be more similar
    1. My family's not in a place to help (I'm not asking and they couldn't anyway); I'm on my own also.
    2. I have one cat (I just got him last year), but he's been okay with affordable kibble and litter, so he's not that big of a burden.  (I'm starting to appreciate this guy)
    3. I'm 34 (younger, but had to deal with feeling that I was changing directions late and had to learn how to stop comparing my life stage with my friends)
    4. I'm sorry to hear about your divorce and the hardships associated with it.  If it helps sharing 'war stories', last year, I had what was most likely a nervous breakdown as a result of years of unresolved burnout.  I'm in a much healthier place right now, and I'm way healthier in a lot of ways than I was before, but the breakdown itself was a costly and VERY humbling experience 
  2. This past weekend, I've been getting more confirmation that this program and this career path is the right thing for me at this time and that's been helping me worry less about the hardships to come.
  3. I hope you can make your decisions (whatever it may be) with confidence knowing that it's getting you closer to your dream.  Working in a field that lined up with my interests and values was something that I placed on the back-burner, because I saw financial security as being more important -- and it ultimately wore me out. 
  4. Good luck with everything and say hello to your cats for me.

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