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to pay or not to pay?


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I finish my MA this semester, and I didn't apply widely this year. My fiancé has a job here, not great, but steady, and I pretty much chose my MA program to be near him and was lucky that they gave me funding. I'm not thrilled with the program or the area, but I've gotten used to it after two years. Of the local universities, my MA institution accepted me--but waitlisted me for funding. I checked with the grad sec yesterday; there are four people ahead of me :( funding isn't looking likely this year. She said maybe next year, but there's no way to know for sure.

The problem is this: I'm in my 30s, it's taken me 10 years to get to this point (long story), and my student loans are...maxed. Even if the department offers me an adjunct gig with partial tuition remission, which they do for those not fully funded, I can manage maybe a year...and that's living really close to ramen for dinner every night, even *with* fiancé's job. If they don't fund me next year, I can't continue, period--not even *with* the adjunct gig. I really hate the idea of starting a program and having to drop out.

I could wait a year, reapply to a wider selection of schools, and hope for funding somewhere. Without the guaranteed gig from my MA institution, though, I'm going to be cobbling together a patchwork of community college adjunct positions that will have me driving 80 miles or so in three directions, and the price of gas may well be more than I'll make. Not to mention repaying the student loans. I'm pretty sure I can't get enough classes to improve on the ramen situation, with near-doom hovering over every day a bill comes due. (Story of my life. Higher education was supposed to help that problem. Huh.)

My other option is to take the acceptance at my uni, start my PhD, adjunct, pay partial tuition, and use up the rest of my loan eligibility--and apply everywhere for next year, hoping for funding *somewhere* just in case my uni doesn't give me funding to stay in the program. (I have no idea what I'll do at the end of my PhD when I'll need to pay for interview travel, but that's four+ years away, and who knows what will happen--maybe my fiancé will win the lottery :/ .) I would, however, feel absolutely horrible asking my letter of rec writers to write for me to transfer *out* of the program they got me into. I've never felt really at home there and would *much* prefer to get my PhD somewhere else--which of course I can't say, but maybe the financial difficulty is enough to explain it? I don't know.

I'm kind of terrified at this point. I know for a fact my fiancé doesn't make enough money to support both of us if I can't get enough money coming in from adjuncting. It sucks to be this close to my dream of getting a PhD and be stuck in a situation that may mean my dreams are over.

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I am also terrified at the moment. I'm not even sure I'm going for my PhD at the moment because of relationships and money. Since you did not enjoy your MA institution, I would opt out of their PhD program and apply to just adjunct. is that a possibility? Then you can stay in the department, keep good connections, and apply to more PhD programs next year. I recommend not going into a PhD program without good funding. If it is a year by year basis, you will be stressed each year and you don't need that for a PhD, especially at a place that you are not truly happy at.

Another thing to consider is whether you really want the PhD or not. Is your fiance willing to relocate for you?

Good luck.

Edited by gurlsaved
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