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Likely to find $$ if defer for a year? (Must decide today!)


marzaja
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Grad school is expensive -- we all know that.  I got into my dream program (horrah!) without any funding (boo!). Thus, I'm battling with the decision to accept and take out $150k in loans, or defer for a year and apply to fellowships/scholarships.  However, is there actually a lot of money out there, and is it likely that I'll be able to offset a significant portion of the cost? Should I just go and hope I land a job afterward that can help me pay this down quickly?

 

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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My gut reaction is that $150k is a ton of money, and unless you are really, absolutely certain that going to this school will guarantee that you'll be able to pay it off, then you shouldn't go into that much debt to get the degree. The interest rate on federal DirectLoans is about 8%, so if you amortize that over 30 years, your monthly payment will be about $1,100 a month, and you don't want to be burdened with that, particularly since public administration can be low paying when one starts out.  

 

With regard to outside funding, there isn't a lot out there, and competition for it is fierce. I would not count on being able to fund your graduate studies through outside funding. I know it happens sometimes with the sciences, where professors or graduate students can get grant funding to support their research and work, but it happens infrequently in the humanities. I'm not sure about MPA programs specifically, but I would guess that outside funding is rare and that most students who are funded get that funding through their programs during the admission process.

 

I'm sorry that I can't be more rosy in my outlook. I think it's great that you got in to your dream program, but there's no denying that they've also put you in a tough spot. Your heart, I'm sure, really wants to dive right into it, while your head seems to be asking some very difficult and important questions. I don't envy you your choice.

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I'm a bit late on this, but the other thing to consider is reapplying to this school and others next year if you are able to fill that year with activites that boost your application.  Examples: getting more work experience, volunteering for something related to your field, retaking the GRE and getting better scores, etc. You might then get more funding.  $150k is just so much, I would be very hesitant taking out that much in debt.  I would also communicate your dilemma to this school... who knows, maybe they'll offer you more funding once it's clear that they'll lose you (that really depends on the school though).  And perhaps ask if there will be second round funding available in the next months as students who declined offers free up those funds. 

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Hey - this is a tough one.

I think the answer depends on a few points that we don't know (but you might!):

1 - Would they keep the place for you for next year if you postpone?

2 - The ability to make money while pursuing the degree. (do they hire RAs? TAs? How much do they pay them? You can take part time jobs etc.) Try to estimate how much you will be able to make.

3 - Expenses: Will you be able to live at your parents'? Will you spend on rent? How much? Other expenses?

4 - The likelihood you will be able to secure a scholarship for next year: Are you a foreign applicant (opens a few scholarship options, closes some). Are there any scholarships from other places? I'd speak with current students in the program to find out what the options are.

5 - How much will you make after grad-school? If you were going to a law-school and expect to make 160/year after that it's one story. If you'll be in a lab,it will be hard to return the money. Estimate realistically your earning potential for the years following graduation.

Good luck...

Lital

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Going based on your profile information, you're entering an MPA program.  So the answer to that is no, there actually is not a lot of money out there for professional master's programs.  The few scholarships that are open to professional master's students are extremely competitive.

Not sure that you should borrow $150K either.  Most MPA graduates don't make enough money to repay that, although some may get close.

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