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SAIS vs. KSG: Deadlocked and Need Help!

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Hi all,

So SAIS gave me a 2/3 funding fellowship but it is tied to area studies that is not my first choice. BUT...I still think I can do what I want to do at SAIS. The econ training will be really helpful for me. Plus, they guaranteed an assistantship and summer internship.

Still, I feel like KSG is the best program for what I want to do (international education policy). They have great resources, great alumni and a great ed school.

What concerns me is that either way I am going to end up in debt. 50K at SAIS, 100+K at KSG.

Personally, I think I'd be happier in Boston than DC.

HELP! I've run this through too many times in my head.


--is 50K still too much debt, particularly for an international student who may work outside the US?

--would i get the same sort of training that I want in program development and evaluation (public policy) at SAIS? It seems like they are very focused on macro-level trade and monetary-type studies.

--i'm not super-psyched about studying a language I didn't sign up to study at SAIS, but the funding is tied to the languages in that area.

All input very appreciated. good luck to everyone!

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"is 50K still too much debt, particularly for an international student who may work outside the US?"

Totally matters the salary you expect to make post-graduation.

I plan to make around $50,000/yr, and work for the federal govt (good loan repayment programs), so I'm not crying about a $90,000 debt post GPPI. But if your field only pays 30-40,000/yr, you might need to really evaluate things closely...

Remember, this is an investment, not an immediate gratification degree. That name will be on your resume/cv forever, so make it count!


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I'd be quite worried about 100K in debt. That's a house in some places! I would definitely consider what your salary might be and take that into consideration when deciding how much debt is acceptable. Personally, I'd go for the cheaper option because 50K is a lot and 100K is crazy. The payments on 100K at a decent interest rate will probably be in the vicinity of $700/month assuming a 20 year repayment. Will you be making enough in your job to afford that on top of rent and other living expenses? If it involves a bit of penny-pinching, that's fine. But if you'd have to rely on subsidized housing or food banks to make ends meet after graduation, I would be wary of taking out that much in loans.

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If you are not crazy about doing economics or monetary policy, then there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to go to SAIS. That is there biggest strength, by far. Go to KSG, once you get past the 40 or 50 k indebtedness mark, it doesn't really matter anyway. Just consolidate for 30 yrs and pay the 300 or so a month and be a Harvard graduate.

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what other people have said is true: debt matters but the degree to which it matters depends upon the context in which you anticipate finding yourself...for some people, the debt is worth the prestige and for others...not so much. From my perspective (and this is perhaps just from talking with IR people and having worked at an agency in DC for a while), SAIS is equally good and perhaps better than KSG. While KSG has the Harvard name (and this certainly carries great weight), SAIS is top-notch as well and doesn't quite have the same reputation for a professoriate full of former political appointees teaching courses. The SAIS name is pretty golden in DC if you're interested in working there.

On another note, I would argue that DC is a better city to live in but that's probably just me.

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