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My Master's Degree Wasn't Worth It: Students Tell Their Stories

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by overedge, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    In the US, you don't have to prove that you're credit worthy to get government backed student loans. As another poster said, this is because historically, it was a good bet for lending institutions to give loans to students, as they'd get that money back in most cases, and for the rest, they'd cover via the interest charged to all lendees.

    In addition, the government backed students loans are guaranteed by the US government. Private student loans are not, but things like the Stafford are.

    US students cannot use federal financial aid to pay for degrees they get abroad. However, they can use private student loans to do so. And as you said, the cost of foreign masters degrees is significantly less than those from a US university. For example, I looked at a specific masters in the US. The unis around me offer it for about $80,000 total tuition, not including living expenses. If I did it from the U of Leicester in the UK, even paying international student rates, it would cost me $10,000 total tuition.

    Both his bachelors and his masters are from schools with poor reps in the NY area. I'm sure that's not helping him.

    As has been said, you've hit the nail on the head. Debt of this size requires private student loans. Private student loans require a co-signer, which will normally be your parents. If you die, and don't pay this debt off, your co-signers are responsible for it. In fact, a lot of financial advisors advise parents who co-sign to take out life insurance on their student, in an amount that would cover this debt should the student die.
  2. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    They *really* are not.
  3. ross_hy

    ross_hy Active Member

    I definitely see every side of this. I don't know if my MBA will ever pay for itself in my field (retail), but it does have two upsides. One, it didn't cost me anything; I'm very fortunate that my mom worked for the school. Second, it allowed me to respectfully get out of my first post-undergrad job that I hated.

    I would definitely recommend to anyone in undergrad to use internships and part-time jobs to help decide what you want to do after you graduate. whether it's a career or further study. I wish I had done more of the same. Some job paths are so hard to break into even if you have education and experience in other fields; it seems like undergrad internships would be a great way to get your foot in the door. I've said in other threads that I want to be a retail buyer but since I don't have a fashion-related degree or corporate office experience, it's been really hard to get noticed. I've seen online programs I could do, but I really don't want to go $30K in debt to do it, especially when they're only AA or BA programs.
  4. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    So his claim that he was overqualified is perhaps a bit overstated? :saint:
  5. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    You don't need to have majored in anything specific to become a buyer. So maybe an undergrad certificate in a related field would be enough to nudge your resume in that direction. It'd certainly cost a lot less than $30k.

    The Fashion Institute of Technology, which is a highly respected fashion school, offers both credit and non-credit certificates online, related to different aspects of fashion. They also offer classes which you can take on their own and add to your resume. What I like about them is that you don't need a ton of classes to get a certificate, and even if you're out of state, their tuition is fairly reasonable.
  6. mrr50

    mrr50 Well-Known Member

    I need to explain myself a little more. My Master's was earned 34 years ago in physiological chemistry(think Krebs cycle etc.) my bachelor's was in clinical dietetics. The hospital decided I was going to be the metabolic unit dietitian therefore, the masters. I enjoyed doing it, but would have been quite happy to remain in the position I had. The most amusing part of my story is that the masters degree program i took, no longer exists.

    The reason I wanted to explain things a little more it that it appears my story is not fitting today's master's degree problem.
  7. professordeb

    professordeb Well-Known Member

    You are absolutely correct and I don't know why on earth I typed that in except to say my SIL lives in Moncton NB. Thanks for the wake-up call. My daughter would never let me live that down if she had read such :D
  8. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    I believe that exceptions can be made when the circumstances are extremely extenuating - such as being completely paralyzed in a car accident. There used to be a system in place for getting a loan forgiven in Canada, but I don't think it is in place anymore.

    Some efforts are being made to include student loans in bankruptcy - or so says Suzie Orman. But in my experience part of the problem is that *some* students don't see student loans as legitimate debt in that they don't think they should pay it back unless they get the job and salary they believe they should get from their education. Of course, it doesn't help that student loans are so easy to get.
  9. cmchan

    cmchan New Member

    Do you have retail/factory level experiences? If not, it will be very difficult as you will start out as an assistant with very low pay. You do not have to go to school for this, although it will be harder. But as far as I know, most people that works in this field started out this way, designers excluded. There are specific reasons for this as you will need the experiences to do the job, majority of the experiences are "as things happen" you learn the mistakes. You can PM me if you have specific questions, I been in this field for few years. I am pretty much the exception though, didn't graduate in this field but just stumble in worked from the bottom up.
  10. NinjaTurtles

    NinjaTurtles Teenage Mutant

    Community counseling woman really only has herself to blame; a little research into the industry would have alerted her to a better path for being in the "counseling" (or mental health) professional. I can appreciate that the many different types of degrees out there for counseling can be confusing, but it's pretty foolish to take on debt without having good working knowledge about the field you're tying to get into.
  11. modern_muslimah

    modern_muslimah Thinking of witty user title and coming up blank

    I'm not sure about Canada, but before the law was changed to exclude student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy, the number of students who were abusing bankruptcy laws to get out paying their student loan debt despite having adequate means to pay them was minuscule. I haven't met anyone who thinks that they shouldn't pay back their student loan debt because they don't have a job making $100,000 or higher. Still, it's very difficult to pay back tens of thousands of dollars of debt if the only job you can get pays minimum wage or is part time. For people in this situation, there are hardship deferments that postpone payments until a time when a student is financially able to pay back the debt. People know they will have to pay their debt back. It's one of the reason why young people like my niece are postponing college. As for certain student loans being easy to get, I think other posters have already pointed out the reasoning for this: it's assumed that students will be able to get employment to be able to pay the debt back. Of course, the current recession is making it harder for graduates to get employment or employment that pays enough to start paying off the loan right away.
  12. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    For students going to U.S. professional school (e.g. veterinary, medical, law), getting a Federal Stafford Loan is the most sensible way to pay the $20K+ (in-state) or $40K+ (out-of-state) tuition per year. These students cannot work during school due to the full-time course load. To get the loan, all one has to do is fill out a FAFSA form and send the result to one's school. The school sends out a financial loan eligibilty email to the student, he or she accepts or declines the loan offer(s), and voila, the school gets the tuition money from the government each term and the student begins a life of massive debt. The student has to pay interest during the four years in school, and has 6 months after graduation to start making payments per several payment plans. Hopefully these students do have a realistic chance of getting gainfully employed at a decent salary!!!

    The only fully funded professional school option I know of is to commit to work for the military after graduation. I believe there is a four year commitment required. And then there's the loan forgiveness program, which allows students who've made 120 monthly loan payments post graduation and who work in a public service job to "forgive" their remaining debt after 10 years.
  13. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

  14. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    According to this article in salon.com, Students loans: The next housing bubble", in this example of funding law school,

    If this is true, then a school could make a student eligible for all kinds of money without needing to go for private loans.

    The main author of the study cited is the Director of the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, Richard Vedder, who's also an adjust scholar for the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.
  15. altai_rose

    altai_rose Well-Known Member

    Nope, there's also my program (Medical scientist training program) for combined MD/PhD. Fully funded tuition + stipend for living expenses. Well, in the US, most (all?) PhD programs in biological sciences are completely funded with stipends.
  16. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

  17. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Correct. "Stipend for living expenses" is definitely right, though. You don't get a lot of money, but you also won't go into debt.

    Although, the postdocs get paid less than I do, and I am a tech with only a BA. I won't get the degree at the end, but eh, I'm lazy. :p My boss finally got a salary higher than Alf, an engineer with a BS, when he became a PI and got an NIH grant when he was nearly 40. It isn't exactly lucrative, but at least you won't be drowning in debt. Unless you decided to get a master's before your PhD, in a separate program. :lol:
  18. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

    That would depend on people's spending habits ;). Several students in my Applied Maths Masters program lived off campus, instead of our grad dorm and that meant they had to pay more their house shares/apartments and they had to own a car. I know at least two of them took out $5,000 loans (per year) mostly because they didn't want the stress of living from paycheck to paycheck. Of course $10,000 for a Masters degree is a reasonable amount, but it still seemed like an unnecessary expense that could have been avoided.
  19. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Between grants and stipends one of my friends made so much while she was getting her PhD (medicinal chemistry) that her post doc pays her HALF of what she got here, and now she live in a more expensive city. Post docs get screwed, I'm so glad my husband found a 'real' job and got to skip that!

    My husband was on a decent stipend or grant (he lost his stipend when he got his grant, his advisor wasn't as generous with the money as the friend above) when he got his PhD- as much as I made at my first job. I got my Master's degree when he finished- paid cash, and figured with his new salary, if we didn't change our living expenses we wouldn't notice the money flying out the door because of the increase in income (I kept working full time.) Plan worked and I was able to get a new job with the Master's (I literally had the degree conferred the day I started the job, they wouldn't have considered me without the degree) and the increase in salary will pay off the master's in two years (assuming I don't also increase my spending, which probably won't happen as we are tired of student living.)
  20. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    We don't have a grad dorm here, so everybody's screwed. :lol:
  21. altai_rose

    altai_rose Well-Known Member

    Well, personally, I feel rich on my stipend. :lol:

    IMO, don't go into academia/science if money is a major motivator for you. Or else you'll spend your grad school/post-doc (*ahem* postdoc in my lab, I'm looking at you)/junior faculty years constantly complaining about how much money your friends make, how little they work, what cars they all drive, blah blah blah...
  22. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    Right, I was referring to professional schools like vet school, medical school, and law school. Students in PhD science programs have access to many funding options, but professional school students do not.
  23. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Well, most can survive on it. My retirement fund is looking better than theirs though. :lol: And it depends on your needs. One of the grads here has extensive medical issues and is "accident prone" and we saved cans and bottles for her to recycle. It would be her grocery money. :eek: And she still lives almost paycheck to paycheck. Another grad student is basically a single mom with two kids, so the stipend doesn't go as far for her as it does most other students. :eek: She tried cleaning houses part time for more money, but doing anything on the side is disallowed by the school.

    But yes, academia and science are extremely poor fields to go into if you value your financial status. Definitely go to medical school instead. The upfront cost is high, but at least your salary potential is a lot higher!