Saturday, April 19, 2008

Attending grad school without going broke

The heat is on to jumpstart my grad school savings. I recently got my financial aid letter and realized that my $1,000 a month savings goal is going to fall drastically short of the actual cost of attending grad school without incurring any more student loan debt.

Now, I realize that student loan debt is not all bad, but I already have $8,000 of student loan debt from my undergraduate studies and I’m not interested in getting any more, especially because the loans that were offered were unsubsidized loans with about 6.8-8.5% interest. It might be worth it if I was going into a high-paying field, but teaching? C’mon!

After doing the math, I realized I’ll need to save at least $2,356 for the next 6 months to cover the estimated annual budget. GULP.

Here’s the breakdown:

Estimated Budget

Registration fees and health insurance $9,645
Books and supplies $1,881
Living expenses $18,411

Total: $29,937

Fellowship ($7,000)
Current savings ($3,000)
*Federal Perkins Loan ($1,800)
**Teach Grant ($4,000)

Total Needed to save $14,137

Total to save each month (6) $2,356

* Interest is 5% and I don’t have to pay interest until 9 months after I graduate.
**This program is new so the details are still fuzzy. I’m 95% sure that I’ll qualify for this federal grant.

Seems nearly impossible for me to accomplish, but I’m sure with a little creativity and hard-work, it can be done. The question is, how does one go about saving $2,400 a month on a small salary?

I'm already living at home to minimize my expenses. It may not be a glamorous life but Grams likes the company and I can save the majority of what I earn. I'm also considering taking on a part-time job for the next couple of months to increase my income. I get home fairly early from my "day job" so I have a good chunk of time in the evenings to take on something extra.

Most of the budget isn't tuition; it's mainly just living expenses. If worse comes to worse, I suppose we could live in a tiny room...but I don't think my boyfriend or the cats would appreciate it. I'd like to avoid eating PB&J and ramen for the next 2 years and avoid a lot of the stress that comes from being dead broke.

Of course, the wheels in my head are spinning trying to come up with more ways to avoid getting into debt again. I’m determined to avoid making the same mistakes I made the first time around. And you know, as I come up with my brilliant schemes, I’ll be posting them here.

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Anonymous said...

I really admire your determination to try to find an alternative to more student loans. I took student loans without really thinking about it and 6 years after graduation I still owe $40,000! It sucks!

I would look into a combination of the part-time job and trying to reduce your spending from the estimated budget. For example, maybe you can get used books on and find a nice subletted apartment for less.

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