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How to avoid debt in graduate school

Thursday, September 17, 2015
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How to avoid debt in graduate school
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These days, it seems like debt after graduate school is fairly common. However, it doesn't have to be. While many students pursue higher education to get a more rewarding career, alongside that higher degree comes repayment of loans. Many students have to finance graduate school on their own without assistance from their parents which can be a tough burden to bear, especially if their initial job doesn't come with a high salary. So what are students eager to attend graduate school to do? Consider these tips.

"The highest salaries for 2014 graduates of MBA programs at Harvard and Stanford were $300,000."

1. Look into a variety of programs
Some students assume that their initial salary after graduation will pay off their loans. This isn't always the case. Regardless of whether you're considering law school or a psychology program, find out the average salary of a person who has graduated from that particular program. You might be surprised to find out how degrees from some schools tend to pay off better than others. For example, the highest salaries for 2014 graduates of MBA programs at Harvard Business School and Stanford University's School of Business were $300,000. On the other hand, the lowest salaries from other business schools were around $24,000 a year. Find out the most recent salaries of graduate students to determine whether the money you're investing will be worth it.

2. Find out the details of every loan you consider
At first, certain loans may seem like a great deal. However, two to four years later, they might not seem as spectacular. If you're considering loan options, it's important to do the math. Look into different programs and find out exactly what interest rates each will have over time. Learn about different repayment schedules and expected loan fees for late payments. See if you can find a lender with a borrower-benefit program, which basically allows students to pay the initial loan cost without interest if he or she pays on time for a specific number of times. 

Debt can be a serious burden on any graduate. Debt can be a serious burden on any graduate.

3. Look into companies that comp the bill
Sometimes students work while attending graduate school. While this can seem like a lot on someone's plate, it often is a good idea. Many times employers will offer to pay for all or some portion of tuition if the education benefits the employer. Many companies believe that if an employee is willing to stay with them after graduation, paying tuition is simply a smart investment. 

4. Research different scholarships
Many students only apply for loans and scholarships through their school of choice. This is the wrong move. Instead, look into different grant and scholarship programs that are available for graduate students outside of your school. Talk to your local bank as well as friends and family who've gone through graduate school. They may have helpful suggestions from their own experience and advice on what not to do. Looking into a variety of resources can also help you find what works best for you given your current financial state, assets and location. Most likely, you'll find better grants and scholarships this way than you would by simply going through your school.


By Monique Smith

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