An advanced degree can open new opportunities, increase your salary, and advance your career. But big value can come with a bigger price tag. The cost for professional or advanced degrees ranges from $25,000 to $200,000 depending on the program you pursue. Here are a few things to consider before going back to school.
Paying for grad school
Many of the same rules apply to financing a grad school degree as an undergrad degree. Don’t max out what you can take for loans and try to start paying off the loans you take while in school. Most grad school programs, including evening programs, offer scholarships and grants based on entrance exam scores, as well as how competitive your profile is. Exhaust all possible subsidies before taking the student loan route. Then, review the federal loan programs since their terms are more favorable for in-school students. When all scholarships, grants, and federal loan options have been exhausted, then use private loans to bridge any gaps.
If you are taking evening classes, you still have the advantage of receiving a salary while attending school. Ask your employer what programs they have in place for continuing education. Even if it only covers a few grand, that makes a big difference over the life of your education. If you are going back to school for a career change, target companies that have tuition reimbursement programs after graduation.
Do your research
In certain industries such as law, medicine, and finance, advanced degrees are required to get ahead. Certain fields, such as IT, can boost their career with certifications. While these classes don’t offer credit, it can give you a sample of the program to help you evaluate where you want to attend. Know what your career plan needs specific to your industry.
Many universities will offer MOOCS (Massive open online courses), or simply the opportunity to sit in a class, as a way to sample their courses and get a feel of the classroom. Attend open houses and see if you can meet with alums of the programs you are interested in. Many grad school programs have developed unique networking events for prospective students to meet with admissions’ staff, alumni, and current students to get their questions answered. Whether you are going back to school full time or taking evening classes, know what will work for your learning goals and ability. And, be sure to discuss the commitment with your spouse and/or family. It’s not just a huge financial investment, but also a large time commitment. Sacrifices will need to be made while you’re in the program.
Selecting your program
Top schools are competitive, expensive, and are often considered a guaranteed job to desirable companies. A recent Washington Post article spoke with recruiters from the likes of American Express and Whole Foods, and found that where you went to school can get you an interview, the deciding factor for many recruiters is fit.
Approaching an advanced degree with the knowledge of what you want and researching the best program for you, will help you excel in your career. Just don’t forget to give Purefy a call after graduation about those high-priced student loans that you need to refinance.