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Advice on affordable grad programs-- Utah State?

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Hi everyone!  I'm new to the forum and this is my first post.

I graduated from college in May and I'm seriously considering getting an SLP master's.  I'm working right now to save money, but, according to my calculations, the closest program to me (University of Washington) would force me to rack up 40k+ of debt.  I would prefer to limit my debt to 20k if possible, especially since I would love to work in a high-need public school district that isn't necessarily the best paying.

Here's a bit more about me:

  • graduated in May from Yale University with a BA in linguistics (so I'd need to do a post-bac for most schools)
  • college GPA is 3.93, magna cum laude, phi beta kappa (okay I'll stop with the Greek and Latin now)
  • resident of Washington state
  • haven't taken the GRE yet
  • currently working as a paraeducator in a public school in a self-contained special education classroom
  • would love to work in public schools somewhere in the western half of the US (or Canada if I could somehow get a visa)
  • have a special interest in AAC (from my experiences working with kids on AAC devices, PECS, etc.) and autism
  • am definitely not looking to start school full-time until at least 2018-19, if not later

I've been looking at schools in the Western Regional Graduate Program, because they offer in-state tuition to Washington residents and most of the schools in Washington have pretty high in-state tuition compared to those in states like Utah and Idaho.  I've focused on Utah State University because the school:

  • offers an online post-bac (which would allow me to keep working during the day and earning money)
  • lets Washington state residents pay in-state tuition
  • has a low cost of living (very low when compared to Seattle)
  • seems to be in a beautiful area of the country (other than air pollution, which I can live with)
  • has various grants, assistantships, and scholarships listed on their website-- I'm especially interested in the URLEND-Autism program which has a $7500 stipend
  • seems to be reasonably reputable (good enough to be employed in public schools) 

I also looked at University of Utah, but it seemed to be somewhat more expensive and listed less funding sources.  I bet people will ask, so no, I'm not Mormon, and I'm pretty liberal politically, but I've had lots of Mormon friends and don't think Utah would be too challenging in that respect.  I'd love to hear from you if you have experience with USU, know about potential funding/loan forgiveness programs I might qualify for, or generally have any advice for me.  Thank you!

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Utah State is in Logan. I have been there many times. It is located in the Cache Valley and the mountains to the east are pretty all the way to Bear Lake. The valley itself is OK, not gorgeous, but not ugly either. Lots of farms. Gets very hot for a couple of weeks in the summer (over 100 degrees) and there is an inversion in the winter that creates a very cold, grey area. As you are from WA state, you know how the western part of the state is prone to that. It seems that the snow does not melt, and stays on the ground until it begins to warm up in the spring. It is not like the Denver area at all, where the snow melts after a couple of days. I'm not Mormon, but the area has a high percentage of Mormons or former Mormons. Many things are closed on Sundays, or they were a few years ago. I never noticed or felt there was a problem. I really know nothing about Utah State. If you are a party person, this is not the town to be in. I don't believe I ever saw a bar there, and to buy beer, wine or alcohol in Utah, you used to have to go to the state liquor store. Don't know if Logan has one. The whole valley's population is about 100,000. Logan itself is about 30,000.

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@cowgirlsdontcry Thanks for the reply!  I am definitely not a party person and don't drink (not for moral or religious reasons, I just don't enjoy it).  I also went to school in Connecticut where the winters are often considered miserable (though perhaps not as much the winters in that area of Utah), and I'm not particularly bothered by it.  I'm generally an introvert and spend a lot of my time playing with my dog and reading.  Maybe this is a weirdly specific question, but do you know if Logan is generally bikeable (other than when there's snow on the ground)?  I much prefer biking to driving, but I know there are a lot of places where biking everywhere is not really feasible.

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There are some bike paths, but I don't know if you would consider it bikeable. One does see the Mormon missionaries biking around town, but not others really. I spent the school year 14-15 at UMass in Amherst. It was the coldest winter on record and I nearly froze. Utah is a much drier climate than the northeast, so in that respect the weather isn't as bad. But, it's still pretty miserable in the winter. I dislike having no sunshine.

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Logan is definitely bikeable. I can't say from personal experience but several of my cohort (I just finished at usu) would bike all the time even to campus. It gets hot and cold, there's lots of outdoorsy stuff which I'm not huge into but I did a few hikes. Supposedly there's one bar but I'm one of them Mormons so that didn't matter. The others would go down to salt lake if they wanted that. We all got along great, but for a couple it was a slight culture shock. 

Program wise I'm not sure how much funding there was. Several had assistantships and I was offered a small scholarship after the first summer. But if you qualify for that regional state agreement that helps so much. Many students came for that. 

For more specifics on usu feel free to pm me. 

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