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Debt freakout

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Is anyone else having an (admittedly delayed) freakout about the amount of debt they are about to sign themselves away to? I was lucky to receive some funding from some schools and think I know what my decision is, but am still finding myself staring at the spreadsheet that shows I will need $60k in loans over the next two years. Anyone have any words of advice? $500/month in student loan repayments for 10 years sounds absolutely terrifying to me...will it be worth it?

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I totally know how you feel and let me just saying I'm looking about double that.

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I am potentially looking at double that as well.

I am in the frightening situation that moving for a year might have affected my in-state tuition status, and thus have raised my fees to out-of-state, while at the same time - if I indeed have to pay out of state tuition - losing me an in-state scholarship I was nominated for. This thing could cost me 80k + the 40k which I would have had to borrow anyway.

I only found out about it last week. And in a couple of days I will hear the outcome. But it has left me in a pretty stressed out state. Both alternatives; being in debt for the rest of my life, or moving back, waiting until I have in-state status again, and then applying again, are nightmare scenarios...

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I can relate, my friend, I can relate indeed. I have the added cost of my daughter as well. I had to sit down and do a TON of calculations to even see if it's possible for me to pull this off.

Worst case, I'm looking at about 115k of debt after my Master's, and another 45k on top of that after a Ph.D (kids are expensive!!!).

Almost everyone thinks I'm crazy, I'm leaving a $50k/yr job to do this. The problem is, that $50k/yr is about the top of the income potential in my current field (secretarial). Calculations for $160k of debt scare the bejesus out of me, even divvied over 25 years and/or with income-based repayment, but the income potential of the field I'm going to is ~$150k at the top. It's gonna hurt, a LOT, but I'll get there. I have 7 years of education (2 Master's, 5 Ph.D) to get everything lined up job-wise to make this happen.

More importantly, though, I'll be doing something I love doing, and not 'settling' just because of challenging life circumstances. I couldn't live with myself if I just sat around and did nothing with my life.

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I also, perhaps only to keep my self sane, subscribe to the thought that "it is only money!"

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If you want to look at some resources for looking at your debt in a way that will hopefully help you not freak out, you can check out an earlier thread I think both MPA/MPP and MIA/MIR degrees involve a LOT of debt, so it should be useful.

For me, when I first faced the fact that I am going to be taking on a massive amount of debt (out of state first year= $90-100K total) for my degree I totally freaked out. Once I sat down and ran the numbers and looked at my take-home pay under the various plans (and also how much I'd pay before having my debt wiped out by the PSLF program) I felt a lot better about it.

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Is anyone else having an (admittedly delayed) freakout about the amount of debt they are about to sign themselves away to? I was lucky to receive some funding from some schools and think I know what my decision is, but am still finding myself staring at the spreadsheet that shows I will need $60k in loans over the next two years. Anyone have any words of advice? $500/month in student loan repayments for 10 years sounds absolutely terrifying to me...will it be worth it?

Is there anyway you can do PT like 2 classes instead of 3 (including the summer) and work, putting at least 25 - 50% of your paycheck towards tuition costs? That way it will at least cushion your fall? At AU 3 classes is a semester is on track to graduate. So if you do two each semester and summer you are still on track to grad in 2 years.

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I am leaning towards the CMU Dc program, so there really isn't a way to do part-time - they front load the first year with all of your core classes, then the 2nd year you take a few electives in DC and do an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship, admittedly, will very likely be paid but I'm not banking on it being more than $10-$15k (just to be safe). So even with IBR payments, I'm looking at approx. $500 per month in loan repayments after graduation. I don't know about anyone else, but I've been working for 4 years now and still don't put that much away in savings per month.. so where the hell is it going to come from then? I think that is what worries me. And having to pay student loans for up to 10 years .. and how that could screw me over since in 10 years ideally I'd be settled somewhere thinking about/having kids. Paying off loans while having children, a mortgage etc.. it just feels really really scary. Am I being a baby about this?

And also PSLF is a great thing, but keep in mind it's just a law, it could get repealed at any time... (though knock on wood that's not the case, of course)

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The debt felt really scary to me, too. Up until a week or two ago, I just wasn't comfortable taking out this much money in loans. While PSLF and IBR are great, I'm not relying on those for my piece of mind. My piece of mind comes from knowing I do not make a whole lotta money right now and still manage to do SO MUCH with it. If reading about how someone else makes it work won't ease your mind, then ignore the below.

Right now, I bring home about $35,000/yr. I only put away $50/month in savings. yeah, its crap, but its something and I transfer in additional money whenever it looks like I've got some extra floating around. I pay $250/month on my undergrad loans. In the last 14 months or so, I've made trips to Boston, Pittsburgh, D.C., wine country in Canada, and Denver. I have a gym membership, I go out, I don't always have self-control when I'm shopping, and for awhile I had cable (cut that crap out, useless!). Occasionally, I have large expenses like car repairs. There is a lot of stuff I spend money on that I do NOT need to, I just figure I'm young and should be enjoying myself to some extent. So if I have all of this disposable income now, then when I'm making at least $15,000 more a year I'm sure I can easily handle doubling my student loan payments. Thats only $3,000 more, so then I can put the other $12,000 into savings (because honestly, I'm pretty happy with the way I live and will continue in a similar manner).

Without grad school, stepping up the ladder is going to be really difficult. So this is 100% the right decision for me. Hopefully this helps you?

Edited by K.Ash

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I am in the same boat as everybody here.

I got accepted to three schools. One offered about 3/4 tuition, one offered a little more than a third, and my dream school, Columbia, offered none.

I really want to go to Columbia but it would be as you say, at least $80,000 in debt.....:(

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I ultimately decided against going into debt. I have free options at other places (free as in fully funded) and gave up my dream school. Now, I should mention that the school I'm choosing is usually considered not as good as the school that gave me a partial scholarship (JHU SAIS), but I feel that I will still be able to make the best of it. Since I have recently been thinking of going into academia or at least doing a PhD, being debt-free is going to be a huge plus. Also, I'm young and I truly believe I will be able to make the best out of every opportunity offered. Was it super hard? Yes, but ultimately I believe that being debt-free is more important to me personally and the difference in quality does not justify the difference in cost/debt (80k tops). That said, I am really loan- and debt-averse, so this is just my personal experience. It might be much different for other people.

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I am in the same boat as everybody here.

I got accepted to three schools. One offered about 3/4 tuition, one offered a little more than a third, and my dream school, Columbia, offered none.

I really want to go to Columbia but it would be as you say, at least $80,000 in debt..... :(

Hey Eclectic,

I'm in the same position and am 90% sure I'm going with SIPA MPA-DP. Not an easy decision, though.

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Hey Eclectic,

I'm in the same position and am 90% sure I'm going with SIPA MPA-DP. Not an easy decision, though.

Nice, it is actually refreshing to see some people just going for it.

I really want to also do the MPA-DP, and we may have met this past Tuesday at the Admitted Day. Awesome program huh? I like that it is a small intimate program within the behemoth that is SIPA. I think this helps to avoid the stereotypical problems of SIPA being impersonal, too big, etc.

How are you justifying the whole debt thing. I feel like I am going back and forth every hour, haha;).

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When I first found out that I didn't get any funding at any program I applied to, I seriously considered deferring and trying again for funding.

However, so far the only job I've been able to land is a terrible retail job where I earn minimum wage.

The idea of retaking the GRE, re-applying, and waiting again, wasting another year scrambling for some sort of job and hoping that a school gives me $10k worth of money toward a $50k program just didn't make sense to me.

I figure that once I've moved to DC I can look for a job, get on track toward my MA, and then if I land a decent job then I can go part-time and make a living instead of just subsisting on loans.

It's a personal choice and it's not for everyone. If you have better options it might be wiser to wait.

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Michigan (full tuition) or Harvard (no money)? I want to PMF with a social services agency / Department post-grad, then move back to New Orleans a few years later.

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If you want to PMF, then I think you should take a hard look at both school's track record with preparing/supporting PMF applicants. I think that elite schools like HKS might have the edge because they know how to prepare PMF applicants, and have a lot of PMF alumni to network you with for tips. OTOH, they might limit that support to a chosen few. I'd do more research considering how specialized your career plan is. Another thing to consider is that if you don't have any finaid from HKS then you're looking at what, $100K in loans? Which means, do you think that Harvard will make enough of a difference in your post-graduate pay scale that you can afford the loan payments vs graduating debt free?

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Ummm Michigan! I know Harvard is amazing, but IMO getting a full ride at Umich is much more competitive than HKS admission. They want you, and it's a great program. They sent seven people this year; just go into the program with the attitude that you'll be one of the seven.

https://www.pmf.opm.gov/FinalistSortBySchool.aspx

And don't forgot, Michigan's cohorts are about 100, HKS is significantly larger. So think in terms of PMF/cohort size.

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Hi all-

I gave up a full ride at TAMU and opted for SAIS, my dream school. I am looking at maybe $60k in loans. It was extremely hard to give up a full ride and living stipend (even though this is not a top program) just because the debt is some what overwhelming and the fact that I am certain I could have landed a pretty decent job in a big four after graduation. The school has a great transfer pricing program and network, but that is definitely not what I am going to school for.

I guess I am in a different situation because I landed a great job (pay wise) right after under grad. Right now I make about $62k and put $1000 aside on a monthly basis (assuming I don't travel or go in a crazy shopping spree). Once I graduate I expect to make at least 10K more and that is only if I choose to stay with my current employer, so I know it is totally doable.

I still can't believe I am giving up my salary....It was hard for me to make such a decision, but I am certain it will pay off in the near future.

Best of luck to all!

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As a undergraduate I was given full financial aid so I do not know how taking out loans work. I want to attend SAIS but the only form of financial aid given to me is 20K in federal loans per year. According to SAIS, that leaves another 40K unaccounted for that includes living costs. I assume I have to take private loans to cover that remainder 40K but will banks give me the money to cover my living expenses or do they only cover the tuition? I would think it would not matter if I was living on a campus and have to pay SAIS for housing but SAIS does not have that option.

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As a undergraduate I was given full financial aid so I do not know how taking out loans work. I want to attend SAIS but the only form of financial aid given to me is 20K in federal loans per year. According to SAIS, that leaves another 40K unaccounted for that includes living costs. I assume I have to take private loans to cover that remainder 40K but will banks give me the money to cover my living expenses or do they only cover the tuition? I would think it would not matter if I was living on a campus and have to pay SAIS for housing but SAIS does not have that option.

Look into Graduate PLUS loans

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/admissions/tuition-financial-aid/federal-loans.htm

http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/PlusLoansGradProfstudents.jsp

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Pretty freaked out about the SIPA debt load, but at the same time, remaining optimistic. It was the only school I applied to and I didn't necessarily expect to get in, and I wanted it really badly, so I'm definitely going. Just going to work my tail off year one in hopes of securing as much funding as possible for year 2. That and pursue some higher-paying career paths upon graduation.

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Pretty freaked out about the SIPA debt load, but at the same time, remaining optimistic. It was the only school I applied to and I didn't necessarily expect to get in, and I wanted it really badly, so I'm definitely going. Just going to work my tail off year one in hopes of securing as much funding as possible for year 2. That and pursue some higher-paying career paths upon graduation.

I am in the same boat. Attending SIPA this fall and taking out some serious loans. The MPA-DP program is a perfect fit for me, so I chose to take a risk monetarily instead of choosing a cheaper, less aligned option.

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