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Advice on Taking out Loans


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So to make a long story short - I was very excited about applying to graduate school (felt that it would be a good "fit" for me) - however, the last few weeks, I have become more uneasy and more uneasy about my decision. I happened to turn down a mediocre job offer for grad school, and lots of people are telling me I am making a great decision by going to a top notch program for my field (friends, professors, family) --- yet, the financial aspect is freaking me out.

I have a lot of student debt from undergrad thanks to no help whatsoever by my family to help me go. Plus, I would be adding another 20K+ for grad school. Yes, I know thats relatively cheap for grad school...but I am thinking I am going to be around 70K in the hole, by the time I finish (that's undergrad + grad). Yes, I know this is a lot of debt. My parents and I have discussed it and they said they would be willing to help me pay some of it in the next 5 years. So am I crazy for going to grad school? Bad decision? A lot of professors are telling me not to worry and that I will work it out in the future, but the big unknown is killing me.

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What field? What is your future earning potential?

Grad school isn't always the answer - I think a lot of people foolishly borrow a ton of money to get a degree that doesn't earn them a whole lot more money. On the other hand, if it is a ticket into a good paying job that you enjoy, then 20k is a relatively small amount to pay. You'll just have to get used to living on nothing to get those loans paid off. :D

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I need a Master's for my field. I want to work as either an analyst for European Union affairs in Agricultural and Trade politics or go on and get a PhD in my field.

Basically, I cannot earn anything with my degrees as of now (I have a BA in Foreign Affairs and English Lit). To do anything in IR or Politics, you either need hardcore experience or a Masters/PhD.

However, I have calculated this... (about right???)

Future Earnings as a Professor: maybe 100K a year

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I'm not familiar with UK pay or your specific field, but your $100,000 salary estimate seems high to me. In Canada, there are a lot of assistant professorships going for $50,000 or so. According to government disclosure, a lot of the tenured profs in my department are making over $70,000. But to get close to $100,000, you need to make full professor, which may not happen for many years, if ever. Add in 2 or 3 years (or 4 or 5) on the job market, and it could be a long time before you're making the money necessary to pay off your debt. Your discipline/area may pay better. If you've done your homework, great, if you haven't yet, take a look and make sure.

ETA a link that bears me out, but lacks specifics.

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... ion/Salary

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Ballpark estimates: $70k at 7% interest over a 10-year term leads to payments of about $800 a month. Extending the term to 20 years would put the payments at about $530.

Will your first job out of school pay you enough to allow you to keep up with those?

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