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Hi All,

I'm sure many of you beginning your graduate level studies in architecture this coming fall are starting to crunch some numbers while trying to make a decision on where to go. I'm hoping that we can have an open discussion on here about the costs of obtaining an M.arch and how we are making our decisions.

I was accepted to Clemson University and given a full year of advanced standing - placing me in the 2 year track. However, I was given no form of financial assistance from the department and will be out of state. Roughly 17 grand in tuition a year. In total, with living expenses, studio expenditures, etc..i'm figuring I wil be in the hole about 55 grand. Maybe less, depending on my income during this summer and next.

I have a more "affordable" option, SUNY Buffalo, where I was given a full tuition waiver, but would have to take 3 years due to my background and the program structure. Even with the free tuition, once the extra year of living expenses and one lost year of income are taken into account, there is a negligible difference.

Clemson is my top choice for many reasons, not the least of which is that the majority of my family is located in South Carolina.

Having no undergraduate debt due to generous parents, working part time most semesters/full time every summer, and a merit scholarship through the honors college I have budgeted between 50-60 grand for a good graduate school. This was the limit I set. If I couldn't do the degree for this amount of loan money then I would re-evaluate my options/life plans. Payments after school could range anywhere from 450-600 a month depending on the life of the loan and interest rates...

Although there are many other factors that are making an impact on my decision - what is the general consensus on 55 grand of debt for an M.Arch degree? How much debt are you all willing to take on to complete this degree?

I have had many friends make questionable choices by paying full price at UPenn, Columbia, and Cornell....over 100grand in debt afterwards (what do these schools do with their 2-10 billion dollar endowments????). I'm not suggesting that it was the wrong decision for THEM, but I think in a forum like this, there is great merit in discussing our financial futures. So, lets have at it...post your thoughts/situation below!

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Hi, kjsmith.

I'm in the same exact boat (although mine may be a bit more extreme). I was accepted to Pratt with no funding. I'm waiting to hear back from City College which would be my more "affordable" option, but I'm really set on Pratt. I, too, was fortunate enough to have parents who paid for my undergrad (out-of-state at Clemson, coincidentally), so these will be the first student loans I'll be taking on.

I know at Pratt you can apply for funding and assistantships after the first year based on your grades and portfolio. I'm sure this is the case at almost any school, but obviously the selectivity process will vary. One thing that I do remember from Clemson is that all of the first and second year undergrad studios had Graduate Assistants (approx. 8 studios total.) Possibly something for you to look into. Also, the library and print facilities were all manned by students (great jobs that allow you to get some of that last minute studying in for your arch. theory exam :D ).

I can assure you that I'll be checking every nook and cranny for every penny I can find. I refuse to settle on a school only because it's more "affordable." If I can make it work at Pratt, that is where I'll be.

Any suggestions???

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Unfortunately I was not offered a GA position with Clemson, however, they said it could still be a possibility - dependent on how many accepted students decide to enroll (although, they did not tell me my place on the ranking list...so it is probably not going to happen). I inquired about a GA position after I was offered a tuition waiver at SUNY Buffalo. It is very awkward asking a department for financial assistance when not offered initially and required a delicately worded email, but it was worth finding out.

Pratt's graduate tuition is surprisingly affordable for a private school, but once living expenses and everything else gets factored in I imagine it would cost north of 35g each year, right? Were you given advanced placement, or will you need to spend 3 years at Pratt? CCNY seems like a great alternative especially if you are in state.

Are you concerned about being approved for GradPlus loans? This is a bit of a concern for me as a have no co-signer (not that I would want one) and will need to exceed the $20,500 given in gvt. loans....

At the end of the day, I decided to opt for an interesting life vs. a well paid career in finance, engineering or law...and I think I just have to come to terms with the fact that it will cost me. At the same time, I have other priorities such as starting a family (someday), owning a home (someday), etc...which is where my 50-60 grand cap comes into play. If these things are important, it is definitely better to plan for them now rather than 150 grand in debt later. But, everyone has different priorities and different reasons for why they do what they do. All I know is that I refuse to be a financial martyr to my profession. IMO, happy architects = good architects and anyone who says any different probably graduated from Princeton.

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  • 3 months later...

Unfortunately I was not offered a GA position with Clemson, however, they said it could still be a possibility - dependent on how many accepted students decide to enroll (although, they did not tell me my place on the ranking list...so it is probably not going to happen). I inquired about a GA position after I was offered a tuition waiver at SUNY Buffalo. It is very awkward asking a department for financial assistance when not offered initially and required a delicately worded email, but it was worth finding out.

Pratt's graduate tuition is surprisingly affordable for a private school, but once living expenses and everything else gets factored in I imagine it would cost north of 35g each year, right? Were you given advanced placement, or will you need to spend 3 years at Pratt? CCNY seems like a great alternative especially if you are in state.

Are you concerned about being approved for GradPlus loans? This is a bit of a concern for me as a have no co-signer (not that I would want one) and will need to exceed the $20,500 given in gvt. loans....

At the end of the day, I decided to opt for an interesting life vs. a well paid career in finance, engineering or law...and I think I just have to come to terms with the fact that it will cost me. At the same time, I have other priorities such as starting a family (someday), owning a home (someday), etc...which is where my 50-60 grand cap comes into play. If these things are important, it is definitely better to plan for them now rather than 150 grand in debt later. But, everyone has different priorities and different reasons for why they do what they do. All I know is that I refuse to be a financial martyr to my profession. IMO, happy architects = good architects and anyone who says any different probably graduated from Princeton.

kjsmith,

What did you end up deciding?

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