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Is taking an intenational student loan a horrible idea


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Trying to consider all my options for school. Right now, it seems like my program does not offer assistantships to newly enrolled students and as we all know, school is expensive. I have been considering taking out a loan and I am wondering how much of a bad idea this is.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello, @ibsby98! First of all, good luck in your grad school journey. 

I hope this does not sound discouraging, but I personally do not think that paying for grad school out of your own pocket is a good idea, unless you are in a field where you can hope to find a lucrative industry job that pays for the investment you made. (And taking a loan basically means paying for the school out of your own pocket.)

Few fields promise a future with good opportunities to make money (though Human-Computer Interaction may indeed be one of those fields, of course), and if you're going into academia, there is rather high chance of ending up unemployed or employed without tenure and its associated benefits - and in that case the pay sucks regardless of field. That is why, I think, it is more advisable to try to get into a fully-funded program. 

In your case, you did not mention whether you are planning to apply for a loan in your home country or in the US (where I assume you're going to grad school). I think there are additional risks associated with taking a loan if you're an international student. For example, if you are from an underdeveloped country with more financial volatility and a weak currency, it is a really bad idea to apply for a loan. If you take a loan from your home country, the money you get may actually be too little when converted into US dollars. Conversely, if you get a loan from a US source, but then go back to your home country to work, your salary may be paid in the local currency and you may end up not being able to pay off your loan which is in US dollars. 

So the issue is complicated and I would recommend that you think it through before you take action. Also, depending on the situation, it might even be a better idea to apply again next year but this time target schools that have more funding. You may think losing one year is a big loss, but if it is going to save you from a huge financial burden, it might actually be a gain.

Best wishes to you!

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