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Rude awakening?? Re: college


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Please note...I have middle school aged kids ;).

 

Today our local university had an open house at their vet school. We usually go as it's a great experience, & this year was no different. It's such a neat outreach they do.

 

Each year we do try to talk to a student or two & get some feedback from them about their experience & such.

 

This year, the guy we got to talking with gave us some figures that shocked us.

 

He said he accumulated no debt for his undergraduate degree. He went on scholarship. Nice. 4 years, debt free. If he had needed loans, gov't loans for undergrad are around 2.x% interest.

 

However, he did require loans for his 4-yr vet school program. He graduates in 2016 & said he will have  ~$200,000 in student loans at 6.x% interest when he leaves. Graduate school loans are that much higher. He states the program is 3 years classroom, 1 year lab/field, with an optional 5th year internship that 60% of students take b/c they don't feel prepared once they finish their classroom studies. I didn't catch whether his loans were for 4 years or if he was also doing the 5th.

 

We also talked about the size of his class (80-small class size) & the increasing number of vet schools around the country. He anticipated a starting annual salary of 40-55k/year if he's lucky.

 

He also talked about how during school they are encouraged to specialize. Vet medicine is going the way of human medicine as in....refer everything to a specialist. Of course, to specialize is additional years beyond the 4 undergrad, 4 grad, & 1 internship. 

 

We had a great conversation with him & there was so much more to it than this...but these are some college & career numbers that just...shocked me. Is this typical???? I might be freaking out a little bit here. These kids go to school with stars in their eyes & come out in a hole so deep...with a salary that can support a person, but not support a family & pay back loans. Is this the actual state of affairs???? Or is this just one person's story?

 

I guess I just need a reality check...is this the reality of higher education???? If it is, I'm pretty terrified.

 

ETA: He mentioned the loans are accumulating interest right now. The payments are deferred until 6 mos post-graduation, but interest is accruing from the start. How are people supposed to get off the ground?!?! This sounds like a set-up for failure :(.

 

Also ETA: This guy is paying in-state tuition at a state-school. So, the least expensive option possible for him.

 

 

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Yes, it is that way in some fields.  Naturally it depends on what you study and where. In some fields you can work as a lab or teaching assistant for a stipend and free or reduced tuition and get by without large loans.

 

In other fields, on-campus work like that isn't available and/or the depth of study is such that it's tough to hold down part-time work.  We know of a local vet who worked as a veterinary surgical assistant on an emergency basis during school, and she still came out with loans, although not as bad as you cite.  She said that she had almost zero free time though, and thankfully her husband is a teacher so he kept the household running and they had basic expenses covered by his salary.

 

IMHO the key is to plan for a low-cost undergraduate if finances are tight and if graduate studies are required that you're going to have to pay for.  We had a discussion on the college board about law school.  Law school in my state at a state school runs at least $90,000 for tuition, fees, and books.  An MBA is about $50,000.  All at state schools, assuming in-state tuition.  If you are tight financially and enter graduate studies with debt from your undergraduate, you can see how it piles up.

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It is terrifying.

 

To balance this, I'll share a really nice anecdote from a lovely young woman working at the Honey Dew Donut shop while waiting for my kid's robotics competition to finish.  I said that's why I was killing a bit of time, and she mentioned that there was a great summer robotics program for high school students  that she'd attended at that university.  So I asked if she'd gone into robotics, and she said no, she'd been a psychology major.  I said 'oh no, and you're working at the donut shop'?  She laughed and said she'd had $15,000 in debt from school, and she was taking a year (or two?) off to work (and was also volunteering in her field), and she'd paid all but $1,000 back already, and she'd been accepted into a graduate program in the fall for social work, which was paid for (nice to hear of a graduate program outside of hard sciences that isn't $$$ - like the vet one).

 

Anyway, it was really nice to hear from a young person who managed to get through the process without a mountain of debt!

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Still completely sick to my stomach about all this (my son will be in 8th grade next year and these past two weeks are the first time I've discovered this terrible truth.)

 

Has someone run the numbers somewhere to see if the jobs requiring such expensive educations are still worth it? In the past, a college degree earned you a significantly higher salary over your lifetime, especially those for doctors and lawyers.

 

Is that still true? Or with all that debt, does an IT person, for instance, with a modest 4 year college education up bringing home more money than a lawyer?

 

It's not always about money, I know. Some people are called to be doctors (for example), it's just in their blood. But for people who are looking to make a good living throughout their lives, is spending $50k or $90k the way to go?

 

And, at what cost? Delayed marriage, delayed home ownership, delayed children. Is it worth it for most people? It used to be, but is it still? Like, if you delay homeownership until you're 40, then you have that 30 year mortgage until you're 70. Some people are pretty frail at 70. What if you can't make a full salary then but are still paying off a mortgage because it took you 20 years to pay off your original college loans?

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I can tell you that my graduate degree in Computer Information Systems got me nothing but debt. It was a huge mistake. There are ways to get through school with little debt and/or great jobs, but it's hard. I think college isn't always the ways to go. It really depends on the person and what they want to do. This is really hard for me to say or accept since I have always been on the pro-college bandwagon. Unfortunately, it's the reality. My husband has a GED and I have a Masters. He made double my salary, and I finally just quit last year to stay home and homeschool. I'm now a part time realtor just to pay my student loans off.

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Still completely sick to my stomach about all this (my son will be in 8th grade next year and these past two weeks are the first time I've discovered this terrible truth.)

 

Has someone run the numbers somewhere to see if the jobs requiring such expensive educations are still worth it? In the past, a college degree earned you a significantly higher salary over your lifetime, especially those for doctors and lawyers.

 

Is that still true? Or with all that debt, does an IT person, for instance, with a modest 4 year college education up bringing home more money than a lawyer?

 

It's not always about money, I know. Some people are called to be doctors (for example), it's just in their blood. But for people who are looking to make a good living throughout their lives, is spending $50k or $90k the way to go?

 

And, at what cost? Delayed marriage, delayed home ownership, delayed children. Is it worth it for most people? It used to be, but is it still? Like, if you delay homeownership until you're 40, then you have that 30 year mortgage until you're 70. Some people are pretty frail at 70. What if you can't make a full salary then but are still paying off a mortgage because it took you 20 years to pay off your original college loans?

 

There are a number of past threads on the high school and college boards on college costs and debt. And a number of studies with statistics showing exactly some of these issues you mentioned (such as, high debt = delayed life choices of marriage/family/home owning). While some people are in these situations, it's not as bad a

 

It is really important to start researching and discussing with your teen all during high school, to be able to make the decisions that best fit your family's finances, possible impacts of future debt amounts, possibility of merit aid and how to earn it (even while in high school), career options/alternatives, and financial aid and the scholarship process. (Here's a helpful thread to get you start learning about the scholarship process: "Preparing for College, What Scholarships/Grants to Apply for?")

 

There are lots more linked threads in post #1 and post #5 of the pinned thread at the top of the high school board: "Transcripts, Credits, GPA/Grading, Accreditation, College-Prep/Applications, Scholarships/Financial Aid, Career Exploration -- links to past threads here!"

 

 

A few quick responses about UNDERGRAD degrees, to some of the concerns you raised:

 

- Rule of thumb (and yes, there are exceptions, such as a medical degree): don't go into total college debt for more than what you'll make as an entry level worker once you graduate. Example: if you graduate with a degree in Journalism, starting salary runs approx. $25K a year; so don't borrow more than $25K total -- what your student could make in a year and pay off the debt, if living at home with parents for 1-2 years after college graduation.

 

- If you go into debt for college, be sure to FINISH your degree; 6 months after you stop taking classes, whether because of graduation or dropping out, federal student loan repayments start and do not stop. Many students quit college after 1-2 years -- and now have debt to pay off, no degree to help them get a higher-paying job, and overall have a MUCH harder financial time getting back into school and finishing that Bachelor's degree. And declaring bankruptcy does not release a student from having to pay back student loans.

 

- Avoid unsubsidized loans (these start accruing interest from the moment you take out the loan); interest on subsidized loans does not start accruing until the loan repayments start.

 

- Research the career field for projected future outlook (i.e., will there be jobs in that field when you graduate); the US Bureau of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook shows both projected future outlook, and what type of growth that industry is experiencing. Example: lawyers = glutted profession right now; on the other hand, it's much quicker and cheaper to get a degree as a paralegal, which is a higher-growth occupation and does not have all the overhead costs that a lawyer in a firm has.

 

- A high-paying profession may not really make as much as you'd think; consider a related occupation that provides more salary at less cost. Example: medical degree requires a huge amount of college loans, and upon graduation there are the costs for having an office and malpractice insurance, which when all combined typically drops a new doctor to a salary of about $35-45K/year. Very similar with lawyers, too. The take-away? Consider a related occupation that doesn't have the high associated costs -- physician assistant, for example does almost everything a doctor does, but it requires less schooling (so the degree costs less), and doesn't have the malpractice insurance and office costs to carry, so the salary is all take-home… Another less expensive option is to earn your medical degree in a foreign country.

 

- Consider whether college is the best way to reach your career goal; look at alternatives to 4-year college. And if a university is the best way to reach the goal, look into alternatives for funding -- some great ideas in this past thread: "s/o: Cautionary Tale/High College Costs -- a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!". That thread includes some of these options for a lower-cost Bachelor's degree:

 

* no-tuition colleges

* college exchange programs (go out of state for in-state cost at participating school)

* earning a degree overseas

* knock out college credits during high school through dual enrollment, CLEP, DANTE, or high AP test scores, reducing time (and cost) at the 4-year university

* knock out 2 years of gen. ed. requirements at a low-cost Community College, then transfer and finish the Bachelor's, only needing 2 years at the higher-cost 4-year school

* earn a 2-year AAS (Applied Associate's degree) at a lower-cost Community College in an occupation that puts you to work at a higher salary; work/earn/save, then go to the 4-year college several years later for the Bachelor's degree

* tuition reimbursement scholarships and programs (work a few years after college graduation for the company that paid towards your tuition)

* college at home in half the time for less money through a careful selection at CLEP, DANTE, and distance courses (College Plus, or other similar company, or DIY)

 

 

Yes, it is more expensive to go to college, and the job market after college is not so friendly to recent graduates; but as long as you do your research, look for options and alternatives, and make sound financial decisions as a family to not get in over your heads, you'll be okay. :) BEST of luck as you move into the high school stage, which includes looking ahead to college and beyond! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Generally, professional grad degrees are $$$$$ with $0 aid. And, they are specific training for one career. And if that one career doesn't work out, or pays a pittance, so that you go looking any income-producing employment, you are overqualified and turned down.

 

If you have wealthy family members willing to contribute $$ to education, tell them to sock it away during undergrad, and "find" it during grad school. Friends of mine who successfully gained professional degrees AND are financially secure, did it with the help of inherited money.

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First, let's separate undergraduate debt from graduate/professional school debt.

 

There are many, many ways to minimize undergraduate debt. The topic is discussed almost daily here and on the college subforum. If you put on your hipwaders and big girl pants and carry around a sack of salt (;)), venture onto College Comfidential to read financial aid threads.

 

Look for inexpensive schools, look for schools at which your student's stats are above the 75% level for admitted students, look for schools that meet financial need without loans, run all the Net Price Calculators every.single.year (don't assume the numbers will remain the same year-to-year), look outside your geographic area, dig down into websites for AP/CLEP/dual enrollment transfer credit, consider transferring from a community college to a university (look for articulation agreements to ensure credits transfer!), and so on.

 

Graduate and professional schools are vastly different. There are very few merit scholarships for professional schools (medicine, vet, dentistry, architecture, business, law). If you want to attend one of those schools, you should try to graduate college without any debt. You may need to work full time for a few years (business schools prefer this, actually).

 

Graduate merit scholarships, often called assistantships, are very common in some fields and not as common in others. They can be extremely competitive! They tend to be more available for PhDs than for Masters. You might be teaching or doing research for a supervising professor. Your tuition is usually paid and you also may receive a stipend large enough to live frugally.

 

(Sorry if disjointed--tending to a teen w a tummy issue.)

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When I was working as a lawyer, a paralegal who was considering law school told me he looked carefully at the math and decided that he was better off financially staying a paralegal.  One of the secretaries also had this opinion, though in her case it also was because she wanted more limited hours so she could be with her family.

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Graduate school was 100% funded by an employer for myself and DH. Many large companies and gov't employers fund employee higher ed. In public health, communications, etc. This type of funding is far less common for professional schools (save MBAs) but it can be done.

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Here is an article about vet school debt at UMN which is one of the most expensive in the country. http://www.startribune.com/local/275017651.html

 

Notice how they mention this OOS student was paying triple what they would have in state somewhere like Georgia or NC State.

 

Anyway, I think it is possible to do but you have to be savvy... especially in a relatively low paying field like vet. medicine.

 

 

 

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He said he accumulated no debt for his undergraduate degree. He went on scholarship. Nice. 4 years, debt free. If he had needed loans, gov't loans for undergrad are around 2.x% interest.

 

 

Loan interest rates change.  My DD, currently in undergrad, has loans with varying interest rates.  Her Perkins loans are 5%.  Some of her subsidized loans are 3.9% and the unsubsidized are over 5%.  My DS's financial aid offers for next year show an anticipated interest rate over 4.5% for undergrad subsidized loans.

 

Here's a link to an article about the increase in interest rates for next year.

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When I was working as a lawyer, a paralegal who was considering law school told me he looked carefully at the math and decided that he was better off financially staying a paralegal.  One of the secretaries also had this opinion, though in her case it also was because she wanted more limited hours so she could be with her family.

 

I graduated from law school 185k in debt (13 years ago -- you can imagine the cost today). My children are allowed to be anything but lawyers. :) 

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If one wants to see the current unemployment rates and income data - google gave me this quick chart (as of Apr 2, 2015):

 

http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

 

And this one is as of Feb 12, 2015:

 

http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat07.htm

 

Remember, what's in the news is gloom and doom as that sells stories, but the vast majority of kids I know do just fine heading to college and out into a career.  Definitely stay away from high debt, but moderate debt (< 50K) seems to work out without many issues.  It IS worth it to research career choices too IMO, but in general "a" degree is needed for many jobs, so even getting "a" degree seems to help most.

 

My vet doesn't recommend kids head into a vet career.  He says the field is really saturated right now.  However, he didn't stop his own daughter from doing just that as she really, really wanted to.  We all have to look at what's out there and make our decisions.

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These days, I wouldn't go to law school if I had to go into significant debt to do it.  The people I know coming out of law school today are getting jobs that a paralegal could fill.  It's kind of scary.

 

One woman I know did law school and is working at kind of podunk jobs, BUT she's doing ok because she had a job at the university while in law school and got most of her tuition paid that way.  She doesn't have debt from it (and her husband paid her living expenses while she was in school).

 

The reason it might make sense to go to med school is because drs can get jobs.  There is enough limitation of the number of students med schools will accept that there are still jobs open (so I've heard -- no current stats on that).  But my gut sense is this is still true, because people I know coming out of med school are getting good jobs.  Even when they aren't the best and brightest of their class.  (Does make me wonder about going to see a dr, though).

 

But one might accumulate a lot less debt becoming a PA or something of that nature. 

 

And don't take the advice of anyone in a cushy job who tells your kid to take out the loans because they'll certainly be able to pay them back later.  That's advice from someone who HAS a job in the field.  You need to figure out how likely that is before taking on massive debt.

 

Course, if it's something the student loves and they can't imagine doing anything else --  If they're fully prepared to have that loan as an expense for years, then I wouldn't be so quick to talk them out of it.  But I'd definitely look around for creative ways to do it, rather than just borrow the money like the schools tell you to do.

 

 

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These days, I wouldn't go to law school if I had to go into significant debt to do it.  The people I know coming out of law school today are getting jobs that a paralegal could fill.  It's kind of scary.

 

One woman I know did law school and is working at kind of podunk jobs, BUT she's doing ok because she had a job at the university while in law school and got most of her tuition paid that way.  She doesn't have debt from it (and her husband paid her living expenses while she was in school).

 

The reason it might make sense to go to med school is because drs can get jobs.  There is enough limitation of the number of students med schools will accept that there are still jobs open (so I've heard -- no current stats on that).  But my gut sense is this is still true, because people I know coming out of med school are getting good jobs.  Even when they aren't the best and brightest of their class.  (Does make me wonder about going to see a dr, though).

 

But one might accumulate a lot less debt becoming a PA or something of that nature. 

 

And don't take the advice of anyone in a cushy job who tells your kid to take out the loans because they'll certainly be able to pay them back later.  That's advice from someone who HAS a job in the field.  You need to figure out how likely that is before taking on massive debt.

 

Course, if it's something the student loves and they can't imagine doing anything else --  If they're fully prepared to have that loan as an expense for years, then I wouldn't be so quick to talk them out of it.  But I'd definitely look around for creative ways to do it, rather than just borrow the money like the schools tell you to do.

 

I dunno.  DD has a friend whose father is a doctor.  They are still paying off his debt.  He wound up going into the military reserves while he was still under the age cutoff because they needed the health insurance-they couldn't afford it out of pocket.

 

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Th old, traditional route of finding promising career success via law or medical school degrees isn't what it used to be.  While at the same time the costs of those degrees have gone up significantly.  I know quite a few in these fields, especially, law, doing other things to make a living now.  And those jobs don't require law degrees.  For example, a coworker does software programming which he's basically learning on the job after graduating from law school.  He also has an MBA which he is not really benefiting from either.  I've also heard of doctors deciding it just isn't worth it anymore with mounting malpractice insurance costs and reduced billing rates for services rendered.  Medical doctors in many other countries were never as highly paid as those in the US.  Now that is starting to change for US physicians.  Many are forced to book ridiculous amounts of patients per day (double/triple booked) and work extra long hours.  

 

However, as other have mentioned there still are specialty areas in the medical field which can do better.  Specialty nurses (e.g. Nurse Anesthetist), NPs, PAs, Physical, Occupational Therapists, etc... can still have decent paying careers.  I've actually heard of medical doctors deciding to become nurses for this very reason - less overhead and headaches with better potential earnings.  Of course, if becoming a physician is a student's passion then money is less relevant as long as they count the cost.

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Another good route to go for graduate school is to look for sponsorships through the military or the Department of Defense.  I have a friend who is going through the  SMART Program at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) here in Monterey, CA.  It is fully funded 'including' living expenses with a guaranteed job upon graduation.  Because we live right next to the Navy school we have many friends who attend and basically all of them are being paid to get their degrees (Masters, PhD's).  Of course, it is competitive and they are typically high achievers.  But still, it is something to consider.

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This is why we need to completely rethink the automatic conclusion that college is a must have, especially for a student right out of highschool. Read Real Education by Charles Murray for a great, and very frank, discussion about why college is *not* for everyone. 

 

Our oldest son will graduate from William and Mary Law school next month, and even though it is less expensive than many and a state school--and he had about 50% scholarship, he will have a huge loan to pay off. Jobs for lawyers are very few and far between. Thankfully, he knew all this when he went in and was sure that he wanted to practice law to serve and work hard, not to be well off!  Because it is not going to be an easy career. 

 

My husband has only a high school diploma and has had to work hard (in construction field) but he always has a job and is making more now than many lawyers, so there are plenty of career paths for non-college grads.  Becoming your own boss, working in the food industry, etc. The main thing is that we need to well-educate our children for either path!  We knew way back that we couldn't afford to pay for college for our kids, so we tried to prepare them to make a living with their hands, or the brains, whatever their circumstances would call for.  

 

I just want to encourage you to be excited about education, and be motivated to develop their minds, because that is needed whether they will be a mother, or a lawyer! :)  Plus, if they are motivated and independent thinkers, and they want a college degree, where there's 'a will there's a way!' (as the old saying goes)

 

Blessings in your endeavors from a long time homeschooler, who can now look back and realize the power of thinking outside the school box. :)

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All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

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All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

This setup is pretty specific for science and engineering and still typical there, but it has never been the norm in other fields.

 

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All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

Generally speaking, these kinds of assistantships are not available now, nor ever were in the professional schools:  Law, Medicine, Vet, Architecture, Business, and I'm sure I'm missing a few.  They still exist for the "research" graduate students, STEM or otherwise.

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Generally speaking, these kinds of assistantships are not available now, nor ever were in the professional schools: Law, Medicine, Vet, Architecture, Business, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. They still exist for the "research" graduate students, STEM or otherwise.

Thanks for explaining that.

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Generally speaking, these kinds of assistantships are not available now, nor ever were in the professional schools:  Law, Medicine, Vet, Architecture, Business, and I'm sure I'm missing a few.  They still exist for the "research" graduate students, STEM or otherwise.

 

This is what I've seen as well.  However, I work in a STEM profession.  So that may limit my view of others gaining paid graduate assistantships.  There is another group which I've seen in this area that is kind of a crossover area between STEM and business.  For example, my BIL works for a public utility company in Finance.  They are paying for his masters in Business Analytics which is a growing field that shares common STEM type courses with the new field of 'Data Science.'    

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I have had multiple friends go to medical school through the military. One now works as a NICU surgeon, another is less than a year from a specialized veterinary medicine degree (that I completely do not understand). Both the females had most all of college paid for including graduate work if they agreed to give the military one year for every year that was paid for. That means both of them are going to be in their mid to late thirties before they get to completely own their lives, the Fed has moved them all over since they were about 18, and they really do not get much of any say in the matter (though one did veto going to Guantanamo successfully). However, neither have much, if any, student debt.

 

The singular male that I know who took this route has been much less happy. He feels as though he was taken advantage of. Both females completely tout the program as very difficult, but essential for them to being successful. One has three children and a stay at home husband. The other never wanted kids, but her husband works and transfers with her. A very supportive spouse is definitely a necessity.

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All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

I was offered assistantships for MA/PhD in Communications from Penn State and Wake Forest.  This was in the early 90's.  I don't recall if Georgetown had a program, but for Wake, I just had to apply (because the program director got to choose who received the assistantships, and he liked me...not in a creepy way, he liked my work as a student and as an asst. coach).  I know in Communications and PoliSci, that these programs still exist -- but it's usually based upon factors other than your application, or GRE tests.  And, I'm not sure it's 100% funded any longer (as the 4yr MA/PhD at Penn State was, or the MA at Wake was).  In my case, it was because I was a National Debater (top 75), and had a lot of success coaching young, inexperienced students.  It was based upon some unique qualifications. My grades, my dual major, recommendations, and test scores were icing on the cake (no, I probably wouldn't have qualified for the assistantship without the regular requirements, but I definitely would not have received one without my debate/coaching experience).

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Yes, I used to wonder about this, too:

 

All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

My oldest was at first planning to go to grad school to study French at Middlebury and was hoping to get this paid for with scholarships and assistantships. When he started thinking about law school he said that he would inevitably leave there with a big student loan to pay off. "Why?" I asked. He said that, for one reason, professional degrees* are more costly and give little in the way of scholarships. Since, in the past, the graduate expected to be able to make lots of money, they didn't need to be enticed to get the degree!  Unfortunately, now the job market for lawyers has dried up, and there are way too many lawyers coming out of the schools for what's there. One has to be truly dedicated to the law and willing to work hard for low to average pay, if they are going for law nowadays.

 

*I'm editing to explain what I mean by "professional degrees." These are the type which lead to a career as a doctor or lawyer. Assistantships are given for the more "academic degrees" (like philosophy, language, etc.).

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Our son has a assistantship in English at a state university. So, they are available. Our daughter is looking at a grad degree in Psychology and Counseling, and she has a good chance of an assistantship, also.

 

All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

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DS is a senior this year.  He has been taking dual credit courses at a local  community college.  He will have 21 college credits when he graduates high school.  The community college offers a scholarship for dual credit, so we've done that debt free.  He has decided to stay at the community college and finish his associate's degree because it is so cheap. He is also getting a part time job after graudation and we are encouraging him to save a large portion of his paycheck to help offset college later. Because we live in a very rural area, he would have to stay in a dorm if he goes to a 4 year university. So there is extra money to add to his tuition. He is planning to get his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and then become a police officer.  My hope is that he can graduate college 100% debt free.  We are also encouraging him to continue working part time even when he is at the university so that he can put it towards college.

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Since this thread is heading into ideas for alternatives for funding college, and because my above post was so long that this link got lost in it, I'm reposting this separately. :) While the focus is on funding Bachelor rather than graduate degrees, lots of out-of-the-box and alternative ideas for funding college in this past thread:

 

"s/o: Cautionary Tale/High College Costs -- a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!"

 

Also, this thread on the scholarship process (for incoming freshmen): "Preparing for college, what scholarships/grants to apply for?"

 

BEST of luck, everyone in the paper money chase! ;) Warmest regards, Lori D.

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All of the comments about debt from grad school surprised me. Everyone I knew in grad school had assistantships, meaning we were paid to go to grad school - enough to pay tuition and basic living expenses. Are these kinds of assistantships only available in science and engineering, or are they less available than 20 years ago?

 

And these aren't generally available in fields with a terminal master's degree. I suspect there are many of us out there still paying off those degrees.

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Please forgive me, but what is a 'terminal masters'?

 

A field where the highest degree available or necessary for the job is a master's degree rather than a PhD. Thus the degree field possibilities "terminate" after the master's degree. This is true for business (MBA), teaching, and counseling, among other fields. You don't go for a PhD in Education unless you want to become a principal (and not often even then), curriculum writer & developer, or teach in the Colleges of Education, for example. Otherwise teachers end their education at the master's degree level and enter the classroom. There is virtually no funding at all, save loans, for these graduate degrees. On the plus side though, you are usually only looking at 2 years of schooling instead of 4+.

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We had a great conversation with him & there was so much more to it than this...but these are some college & career numbers that just...shocked me. Is this typical???? I might be freaking out a little bit here. These kids go to school with stars in their eyes & come out in a hole so deep...with a salary that can support a person, but not support a family & pay back loans. Is this the actual state of affairs???? Or is this just one person's story?

 

I guess I just need a reality check...is this the reality of higher education???? If it is, I'm pretty terrified.

 

 

It is certainly the reality of the person you spoke with and he's not the only one in vet medicine who feels that way. I would not jump from that story to generalize though that college is without value or the road to debt for all students. The research is pretty clear and consistent in finding that higher education is a good investment and that on average college graduates have much higher lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Of course some fields pay much better than others.

 

As a counterpoint to this story, I personally know quite a few young people who have done very well with higher education including many who went to college on full merit scholarships and graduated with no debt. Some went directly into careers and others to graduate school. As others have said professional school (law, medicine, vet medicine) tends to be very expensive. In many fields graduate students receive free tuition and a modest living stipend that allows them to live like students so taking out debt is not the norm.

 

 

 

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I wanted to comment about med school and having the military pay for med school.

 

Background: I decided to go to med school after briefly working as an engineer and I decided to go the military route.

 

The upside (obviously) is no student loan debt.

 

The downsides are less obvious and not well known. The major downside (that I didn't realize when I went this route) is that the military essentially controls what residency you do and when and where you do it.

 

If you want to do primary care, this is not a major issue. The military needs primary care and authorizes many training slots for primary care. Plus, in the civilian world, primary care is relatively low status and low pay but jobs are plentiful and nobody really cares too much where you trained so long as you are credentialed.

 

If you find your heart's desire is to do pediatric nephrology, you have a major problem.

 

Many folks go to med school thinking they will do one thing and ultimately choose another specialty entirely. It is hard to project far into the future when you are only 20 or 21.

 

Even pretty mainstream residencies like anesthesia can be much harder to get in the military than civilian side because the military has decided they don't need as many, etc.

 

Another issue is the couples match. If you meet and marry your spouse at med school (very common; that's where I found mine) and they are not military then chances are good you will be separated for your residency (meaning three or four years). They may well be several states away and you won't be flying out to see them while you are working your 80 hr weeks.

 

At this point, I have stayed in past my original commitment so obviously it's not all bad. We know people who are $300k in debt from their med school and I am glad I'm not in those shoes. But it has not been easy and if I had it to do over I don't think I would. On the other hand, my husband (who got out as soon as his payback was done because otherwise he was up for deployment #3) feels strongly it was worth it. So clearly opinions vary.

 

One "third way" to consider: go to a relatively cheap state school (Texas springs to mind) and take loans. Then once you have secured the residency training you desire, join the military under one of the loan repayment programs. Although often not as generous as joining on the front end (through USUHS or HPSP) it allows you more say in your training.

 

I would not do ROTC if I knew I wanted to go to med school. You have to get their permission to apply and it can make life lots more complicated.

 

Sorry that's long and please excuse typos (I'm of course killing some time while pulling call). Hope it's helpful to someone.

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I'm not sure how you would classify what my brother did.  He went to dental school prior to joining the Air Force.  He joined the Air Force. I don't remember how long he was in the AF.  He is 14 yrs older than me and he joined when I was still pretty young.   I remember he flew home from Yokoto when I got married.  (We actually had to change our wedding date b/c it was the only week he could come home.)  When he resigned his commission, he went to orthodontics school which was paid for (was it by the GI bill??  I really don't know how that all works.)   I'd have to ask him the nitty gritty details.  I just know that by doing all of the above, his debt was nothing compared to what it would have been if he hadn't taken that route.  

 

It makes me wonder if it was similar to the "third way" that MyHandsAreFull described.

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These days, I wouldn't go to law school if I had to go into significant debt to do it.  The people I know coming out of law school today are getting jobs that a paralegal could fill.  It's kind of scary.

It depends on which law school. We live next door to a top 5 law school and none of the students I know have had any trouble getting an amazing job in whatever city they wish to live in.

 

Emily

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8, that does sound like one of the loan repayment plans. One of my dental buddies tells me the military is a good option for dentists because it is fairly easy to get a paid 1-2 yr residency in the military. But that's really out of my area. If someone has a specific question about it then PM me and I will ask around.

 

One "fourth option" I did not mention but you did is the GI bill. If a person goes the HPSP route (meaning military scholarship for med school) but does not get selected for the residency they want, they could simply do an internship (but no residency) then their (usually four years) payback and get out and pursue a civilian residency. Often civilian residency is so poorly paid it's difficult to make it in a major city on the salary. A person who is eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill ("new GI Bill) can use their benefits to fund living expenses under a special, not widely known "apprenticeship" category that will pay an E-4's housing allowance (but obviously no tuition since there is none). This maneuver was not possible with the old Montgomery GI Bill.

 

I know a guy who did a fellowship in Boston this way and it netted him around $3k a month. This meant his wife could continue to stay home with their children. Obviously it will be less in a low COLA area.

 

ETA: please note the military is practically the last place in the US where you can practice medicine as a regular job with only an internship. They try to discourage it but they cannot force you to accept a residency you don't want. They can, however, force you to do an internship you don't want.

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It's too bad OP spoke with a future vet.  The future for those professionals is particularly bleak (as described in a recent NY Times article), maybe even worse than law school grads if that's possible.

 

If your kids have their heart set on being vets, you'll want them to get there the cheapest way possible.  If they can't get into a state school, then should probably reconsider altogether.  

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It's too bad OP spoke with a future vet.  The future for those professionals is particularly bleak (as described in a recent NY Times article), maybe even worse than law school grads if that's possible.

 

Another option might be to work for a vet as a veterinarian techologist or technician. The pay is not the best ($30K/year), BUT only requires a 2-year Associate's degree, AND projected to be a lot of jobs out there. In addition, having the vet tech degree may open doors later for decreasing debt for a future vet degree, or "cash in" experience for credits toward a vet degree, etc.

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8, that does sound like one of the loan repayment plans. One of my dental buddies tells me the military is a good option for dentists because it is fairly easy to get a paid 1-2 yr residency in the military. But that's really out of my area. If someone has a specific question about it then PM me and I will ask around.

 

One "fourth option" I did not mention but you did is the GI bill. If a person goes the HPSP route (meaning military scholarship for med school) but does not get selected for the residency they want, they could simply do an internship (but no residency) then their (usually four years) payback and get out and pursue a civilian residency. Often civilian residency is so poorly paid it's difficult to make it in a major city on the salary. A person who is eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill ("new GI Bill) can use their benefits to fund living expenses under a special, not widely known "apprenticeship" category that will pay an E-4's housing allowance (but obviously no tuition since there is none). This maneuver was not possible with the old Montgomery GI Bill.

 

I know a guy who did a fellowship in Boston this way and it netted him around $3k a month. This meant his wife could continue to stay home with their children. Obviously it will be less in a low COLA area.

 

ETA: please note the military is practically the last place in the US where you can practice medicine as a regular job with only an internship. They try to discourage it but they cannot force you to accept a residency you don't want. They can, however, force you to do an internship you don't want.

 

 

Is this in any way related to the ROTC?

 

My DD would not quality for ROTC Scholarship because of her eye sight.

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MyHandsAreFull, on 15 Apr 2015 - 05:24 AM, said:snapback.png

… One "fourth option" … is the GI bill...

 

… A person who is eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill ("new GI Bill) can use their benefits to fund living expenses under a special, not widely known "apprenticeship" category that will pay an E-4's housing allowance (but obviously no tuition since there is none). This maneuver was not possible with the old Montgomery GI Bill.

 

Is this in any way related to the ROTC?

 

My DD would not quality for ROTC Scholarship because of her eye sight.

 

No, an ROTC Scholarship is completely different from the GI Bill. An ROTC Scholarship is money provided to attend college before entering and serving you time with the military. It enables the student to enter the military as an officer, and with a college degree. It is a "pre" military service scholarship, that must be applied for and maintained just as any college student must apply for and keep up requirements in order to renew the scholarship each year. The amount will vary depending on the school.

 

The GI Bill is a benefit provided for men and women who have fulfilled their requirements for military enlistment and service. It is a "post" (or "during") military service benefit, and it can be used by the person who did the actual service time, OR, by that person's spouse and/or children. So, using the GI Bill comes in one of two ways:

 

1. the young adult enlists and serves and meets the requisites to receive the GI Bill

2. a parent who served and earned the GI Bill and did not use the benefit for him/herself can transfer the benefit to spouse and/or children

 

 

A completely different option:

If your student would not qualify to serve in the military due to eyesight or other reason, your student could try for a SMART scholarship, a type of work-for-tuition scholarship. The Federal Gov't scholarships some of the student's tuition (for a degree in a STEM field), and in exchange, upon college graduation the student works as a *civilian* in a research capacity for the U.S. Military in the STEM field. The student is not required to enlist or serve in the military with this option.

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